What better way to shake off January's gloom than to make marmalade? Seville oranges, unbelievably bitter and fit for little else but cooking up with sugar, are in the shops now. No apologies for lots of orange pictures - I'm thinking sunshine and soaring spirits.I have great fun juicing, paring and slicing. I add lemons and water and put the pan over a low light. As it warms the house becomes imbued with the tang of Sevilles. Christmas may have its own scents and flavours; a jam pan of marmalade oranges is January for me.Simmer for a long time - slowly to release pectin and soften the bitter peels. (Make a face like a cat's arse when you have a bite to see if they are tender enough) Eeeurgh! Add sugar ('Silver Spoon') and feel particularly proud that it is sugar produced by British Farmers in East Anglia. Toss in a small knob of butter, turn up the light and we're off.....Have more great fun dissolving and stirring, making whirls and vortexes. Enjoy the dancing light through fragrant steam. Great stuff. Remember I am making marmalade so put a stop to all that arty stuff and get the pan-ful boiling ferociously.
The next 20 minutes or so are always pretty stressful. Will it? Won't it? Set that is - will I end up with syrup or toffee? These days it's generally OK but there are always those moments of doubt. This season my 5.5lbs of oranges have yielded nearly 18lbs of marmalade. I'm quite satisfied with the way it has set but if somebody can tell me how to get the peel to distribute itself evenly throughout the jar without a long session poking with a chopstick I would be happier still.
Any suggestions? A reward of toast and marmalade for the best suggestion.