Shirley Conran thought life was too short to stuff a mushroom but when the Seville oranges appear in the shops I have a bit of crisis – to buy or not to buy? There is no doubt that making marmalade is a time consuming and messy job and at the time of maximum mess the thought ‘why not buy it? the shops have so much they sell it’ is very much at the front of my mind.
This year, as in most years, I bought even though I knew that life was far too busy to make marmalade in the near future. But one of the good things about Seville oranges is that they can be frozen until there is sufficient time to make marmalade so in previous years I have popped the whole lot in the freezer for a month or so. I didn’t freeze them this year but put them in our new cold food store and the weather has been so icy recently they probably have been frozen. When I got them out to make the marmalade they seemed perfect.
Part of the fun of cooking is reading round the subject and I spent some time enjoying a coffee and reading different recipes to decide whether to hand cut all the rind as I did last year or whether to try the liquidiser attachment on my ancient Kenwood chef. Next decision soak over night and then boil the pulp, rind and water or try the slow cooker. I decided to live life on the edge and if I was trying a new method of fruit preparation I should try a new method of cooking so Kenwood and slow cooker out and off I set.
Roughly chopping the oranges (once juiced and then pips and pith were removed) and popping it in the Kenwood was easy. Next I loaded the prepared rind,juice, pips and pith tied up firmly in butter muslin, and water into the slow cooker put it on and went outside to finish cutting the willow.
Four hours later when I came back into the house there was a beautiful, tangy citrus aroma filling the kitchen. Next the easy bit remove the jelly bag and squeezing out all the lovely pectin laden juice. Important next step (which I often forget) is to weigh the empty preserving pan before adding the fruit so when you add the boiled fruit and weigh you can calculate how much sugar is needed. Rule of thumb is add 1lb of sugar for every 1lb of fruit.
The marmalade has been boiled and bottled in clean warm jars so it’s just a matter of patience waiting for it to cool ready for breakfast tomorrow, Having had a few tastes during the ‘test for setting’ process I know that life is not too short to make marmalade and it is certainly not too short to eat it,