Scraping the bottom of the jar to get out the last of my marmalade, I decided this weekend to make my own. (I think subliminally I have also been reading a lot of jam recipes, presumably to preserve the last of the summer fruits in the Northern hemisphere). I used Delia Smith’s recipe for traditional Seville orange marmalade with a few brave changes – using 50% brown and 50% white sugar and also a whole lot less sugar than her recipe calls for, which was still a terrifying large amount.
I’d seen/read/heard that the worse thing that can happen to jam is that it doesn’t set, so I also added some extra peel from some oranges I ate, and while I think the sugar part worked out just fine, the extra peel added so much pectin to my mix that the consistency was too firm. The brown sugar makes a dark marmalade with a strong molasses flavour – perhaps that’s why I could get away with using less – but I think maybe 50/50 was too strong and next time I’ll try 25% brown 75% white.
The good thing is that making your own jam is straightforward and fun enough to want to try it again, and guess what friends and family will be getting as gifts soon?
- 900g oranges – Seville would be perfect for their intensely sharp flavour but I made it with naval and that turned out fine
- 1 lemon
- 500g soft brown sugar
- 500g white sugar
You will also need:
- A large, heavy-based saucepan
- 6 x 350g jam jars
- Add the juice of the oranges and lemon to 2.25l water
- Scrape out the insides of the cut fruit and add the pips, the pith and everything else into the centre of the cheesecloth. Leave nothing behind – the pith and pips contain all the precious pectin that will help the jam to set
- Cut the remaining peel into thin strips and add to the juice and water. Don’t worry about the excess pith on the rind, it will boil off
- Tie up the cheesecloth tightly and pop that into the pot
- Bring to the boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 hours
- In the meantime chill some saucers in the fridge
- Once the peel is soft, remove the cheesecloth bag and allow to cool. Make sure the peel is soft enough so you can rub it to nothing between your fingers and before you add the sugar. Adding sugar arrests the softening of the peel and you don’t want tough rind in your marmalade
- Add the sugar to the pan and stir gently over low heat to ensure all the crystals have dissolved
- Once the bag is cool enough to squeeze, turn the heat to high and squeeze the contents in the cheesecloth bag. You can do this with two saucers if it’s still too hot. This part is messy, sticky and intensely satisfying as you watch the almost jelly-like goo that contains the pectin ooze out
- Stir into the mixture
- Once the mixture comes to a rapid, rolling boil, start timing. 15 minutes to start. After 15 minutes spoon a little of the marmalade on to one of the cold saucers from the fridge, and let it cool back in the fridge. Once it has cooled, you can see if your marmalade has ‘set’ by pushing the mixture with your little finger: if it has a really crinkly skin, it is set. If not, continue to boil the marmalade and give it the same test at about 10-minute intervals until it does set.
- After that remove the pan from the heat (if there’s a lot of scum, most of it can be dispersed by stirring in half a teaspoon of butter, and the rest can be spooned off)
- Leave the marmalade to settle for 20 minutes. This will allow any floating rind to settle
- In the meantime, the jars should be sterilised – washed, dried and heated in a moderate oven for 5 minutes
- Pour the marmalade, with the aid of a funnel or a ladle, into the jars, cover with waxed discs and seal while still hot
- Label when cold and store in a dry, cool, dark place