Thursday, January 25, 2007
....middle name - 'Squirrel?'
I don't hoard things like bits of string and general tat (at least I don't think I do...) but I do like a shelf groaning under the weight of jams, jellies and produce, our own vegetables for use over the non-productive winter months and a freezer full of meat and fishes....
The marmalade production line has cranked into action - Seville oranges squeezed 'til the pips squeaked, then de-pithed and shredded. A couple of lemons are added for good measure. Then into the pan with a measure of water for an hour and a bit's gentle simmer - to soften the peel and to let the bagged pips and pith release their pectin. The smell of bitter orange fills the kitchen. This is the smell of January. Marmalade is a seasonal thing.
Later - probably the next morning - sugar is added and dissolved. Over a furious heat the pan eventually reaches a 'rolling boil' - the liquid foams up the sides, spitting and bubbling. It seems to take for ever to get the stuff to reach setting point - always a tense 'will it? won't it' situation for me. But eventually that little spoonful on the chilled saucer wrinkles and we have marmalade. Phew.
Get the lids on quick! Stand back and admire our labours - inhale even more of that sweet, tangy citrus smell. Print up the labels - get the glue pot out and the labels on and we have the finished product. 24 jars of Seville Orange Marmalade.
Then for me - almost the best bit - stacking the shelves. Then standing back to admire our handiwork.
And there it is: Marmalade 2006 - 4 jars yet to eat, 24 jars Marmalade 2007!!!!, Raspberry Jam, Raspberry Jelly, Blackcurrant, Redcurrant and Whitecurrant Jellies, Tomato Chutney, Pickled Damsons, Sloe Gin.....neatly lined up, jars shining, contents waiting for a slice of toast, of ham, cheese, game pie, whatever - the hungry future.