â€œOh bliss â€“ youâ€™ve got the first of the new seasons Seville orange marmalade alreadyâ€ chirps one of our lovely customers clutching a jar of traditional Seville orange in one hand and ginger marmalade in the other. â€œLife is far too short to make my own, have you made any with whiskey or treacle? – my gran used to add those at the end.â€
I, on the other hand love making marmalade, I find the chopping, juicing and slicing deliciously relaxing and then thereâ€™s the anticipation – somehow each batch is slightly different, itâ€™s definitely a â€˜high stool jobâ€™, turn on the radio â€“ an afternoon play, Womanâ€™s hour or something soothing and ethereal from Lyric FM.
And, lest there be any misunderstanding, marmalade making is not just a womanâ€™s preserve, several men of my acquaintance hold very strong views on how to make the best marmalade. Having said that, there is indeed quite a revival in homemade marmalade making, I have only just heard about the UK Marmalade Awards on 25th and 26th February. Apparently this is the 7th year in a row and there are a variety of categories including Novice, International, Heritage and this years Mystery category â€“ marmalade made for the Monarch to celebrate the Jubilee year. All over the UK there is a frenzy of marmalade making in preparation for the event held at Dalemain Mansion in Cumbria. Last year they had over 1,100 entries from as far afield as Australia and the Virgin Islands and this year already theyâ€™ve received jars of glistening marmalade from Italy, New Zealand, the Philippines and Alaska â€“ how fun is that.
There will also be a Marmalade Concert, a Marmalade Church Service and an array of activities with a citrus twist â€“ the mind boggles!
One can make marmalade all year round from a variety of citrus fruit; however the â€˜properâ€™ oranges for authentic marmalade are the bitter sweet oranges from Seville and Malaga that are in season for just a few short weeks at this time of the year.
They are in the shops and Farmers Markets at present â€“ I buy organic fruit from Caitriona Daunt who has a stall both at Mahon Point and Midleton Farmers Markets and can be contacted at 086 3623918.
Itâ€™s too late this year but how about launch the Irish Artisan Marmalade Awards next year!
Meanwhile here are 10 tips to help you to make a mighty pot of marmalade.
- Choose perfect citrus fruit, preferably organic and give them a good scrub in warm water.
- Choose a wide shallow stainless steel saucepan or preserving pan
- The pectin is in the pith and pips, tie them both into a little muslin bag, soak overnight with peel.
- Next cook the peel with the bag of pips until the liquid has reduced by between 1/3 and Â½ the original volume. Check that the peel is really soft. The sugar has a hardening effect if added before the peel is tender. (No amount of boiling will soften it later)
- Heat the granulated sugar in a bowl in the oven 180Â°C/350Â°F/Mark 4 for 15 â€“ 20 minutes. Hot sugar dissolves faster and the result is a more aromatic marmalade.
- Stir well until all sugar is dissolved, then boil, uncovered on a high heat until setting point is reached. Stir regularly.
- Sterilize the jars and lids in an oven 180Â°C/350Â°F/Mark 4 for approximately 10 minutes.
- Chill a plate in the fridge to test for a set, put a spoonful of marmalade on the cold saucer, cool for a few seconds â€“ press with your index finger. If it wrinkles even slightly, it will set.
- Turn off the heat, skim of any scum that rises to the top and discard. Leave the marmalade to cool for 8 â€“ 10 minutes in the saucepan before potting otherwise the peel may float to the top of the pot.
- Fill into the sterilized jars, cover each pot with a disc of wax paper (waxed side down), cover and seal immediately.
Aliciaâ€™s Chorizo con Marmalada de Sevilla
When Alicia Rios came to the school to teach a Tapas course with me she created this unlikely but delicious tapa using our Seville orange marmalade â€“ perfect for easy entertaining â€“ your guests will need paper napkins!
225g (8ozs) Chorizo sausage
110g (4ozs) Seville orange marmalade (see recipe)
Chop the peel in the marmalade into shorter chunks. Cut the chorizo into slices, top each slice with a little Seville orange marmalade.
Serve as is or on little rounds of bread.
Traditional Seville Orange Marmalade
Seville and Malaga oranges come into the shops after Christmas and are around for 4-5 weeks.
Makes approx. 7 lbs (3.2kg)
2 lbs (900g) Seville oranges
4 pints (2.3L) water
4 lbs (1.8kg) granulated sugar
Wash the fruit, cut in half and squeeze out the juice. Remove the membrane with a spoon, put with the pips and tie them in a piece of muslin. Slice the peel finely or coarsely, depending on how you like your marmalade. Put the peel, orange and lemon juice, bag of pips and water into a non-reactive bowl or saucepan overnight.
Next day, bring everything to the boil and simmer gently for about 2 hours until the peel is really soft and the liquid is reduced by half. Squeeze all the liquid from the bag of pips and remove it.
Add the warmed sugar and stir until all the sugar has been dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a full rolling boil rapidly until setting point is reached 5-10 minutes approx. Test for a set, either with a sugar thermometer (it should register 220F), or with a saucer. Put a little marmalade on a cold saucer and cool for a few minutes. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it’s done.
Allow marmalade to sit in the saucepan for 15 minutes before bottling to prevent the peel from floating. Pot into hot sterilized jars. Cover immediately and store in a cool dry dark place.
N.B. The peel must be absolutely soft before the sugar is added, otherwise when the sugar is added it will become very hard and no amount of boiling will soften it.
Irish Whiskey Marmalade
Add 6 tablespoons) of Irish whiskey to the cooking marmalade just before potting.
Dark Seville Orange Marmalade
Add 2 tablespoons of treacle to the marmalade just before potting up.
6 â€“ 8 pots
1kg (2.4lb) un-waxed lemons
2kgs (4.5lb) granulated sugar
Scrub the skin of the lemons in warm water with a soft brush. Put into a deep stainless steel saucepan with 2.5 litres of water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 2 hours and then remove and continue to cook until the lemons are soft and tender and the liquid is reduced to 1.5 litres.
Remove the lemons and allow to cool. Heat the sugar in a moderate oven 180Â°C/350Â°F/Mark 4 for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut the lemons in half, save the pips and tie with the soft membrane in a little muslin bag. Slice the peel and put into a stainless steel saucepan with all the juice, liquid and the bag of pips. Put back on the heat, bring to the boil and cook to a setting point. Test for a set in the usual way.
Allow to cool in the saucepan for 15 minutes. Pot into sterilised jars, cool and store in a dark dry cupboard.
5 large Seville oranges (1kg)
3 litres (5 pints) water
1.5kg (3lbs) Bramley cooking apples
2.7kg (6lbs) sugar
1 â€“ 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
50g (2oz) chopped crystallised ginger, optional
Cut the orange in half around the equator, squeeze the juice and put in a large stainless steel saucepan, save the pips. Remove the membrane from the oranges, tie the pips and membrane into a little muslin bag, add to the juice. Slice the peel thinly and add with the water to the pips and juice. Leave overnight. Next day bring to the boil, cover and cook until the peel is almost tender, remove lid and reduce liquid until between 1/3 and Â½ of the original volume.
Meanwhile, peel, core and chop the apples and cook with 4 tablespoons of water on a low heat until soft and pulpy, add the grated ginger when the peel is soft and the liquid reduced, add the apple and ginger mixture and the warm sugar. Bring back to the boil for 10 minutes approximately – stir in chopped crystallised ginger allow to cook for a further10 minutes until it reaches setting point. Pour into sterilized jars. Cover immediately â€“ cook and store in a cool dry cupboard.
Seville OrangeÂ Marmalade Tart
8ozs (225g) plain flour
5ozs (140g) butter
2 teaspoons castor sugar
1 egg yolk
4ozs (110g) butter
4ozs (110g) castor sugar
2ozs (55g) ground almonds
1 large egg, beaten
4 tablespoons Seville orange marmalade
Set the oven to 200C (400F/regulo 6)
Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and rub in butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.Â Stir in the sugar; beat the egg yolk with 2 teaspoons of cold water.Â Use to bind the pastry, adding a little more water if necessary to form a soft but not sticky dough.Â Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.Â Â Â Roll out on a lightly floured surface and use to line an 8 inch (20.5cm) loose bottomed, fluted flan ring.Â Â Prick the base lightly with a fork, cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper.Â Fill with baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes.Â Remove from the oven and discard the paper and beans.
Meanwhile prepare the filling.Â Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy, then beat in the ground almonds and egg.Â Warm and then sieve the marmalade.Â Reserve the liquid, stir rind into mixture and beat well until thoroughly mixed.
Turn the prepared filling into the pastry case.Â Smooth over the top.Â Â Reduce the oven temperature to 180C (350F/regulo 4) and bake the flan for 15 minutes or until golden brown.Â Glaze with reserved marmalade.Â Â This tart is delicious hot or cold.Â Serve with softly whipped cream.
Prospective bloggers or food writers shouldnâ€™t miss Hugo Arnoldâ€™s one day Food Writing Course at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday 25th February. Hugo has published eleven cookery books and regularly contributes to several newspapers and magazines; there will also be practical advice and tips on how to get published. Phone 021 4646785 to book
The first national â€œFoodie Forumâ€ will be held at GMIT (Galway Mayo Institute of Technology) on Thursday 2 February. Open both to the public and industry colleagues, visit http://tiny.cc/foodieforum for more information.
Check out Sheridans Cheese Mongers January sale in Dublin, Galway and Waterford â€“ 50% off a selection of Munster, Pont lâ€™Eveque, Camembert, Reblochon and Mont dâ€™Or â€“ www.sheridanscheesemongers.com