I think most of us have some sort of a fetish or other, be it shoes, handbags, shopping or watches and so on. Me? I love cookbooks. Love em! I read them like most people read novels and at any given time you will find at least two next to my bed, on my desk and of course in my kitchen. When bookstores have massive sales I make a beeline for the cookbook section and then spend ages deciding which one’s I absolutely have to have, because let’s face it…the cost of books…makes me ill. Just like our bloody petrol price!
Some of my most prized possessions are the cookbooks that I inherited from my late dad. When I page through some of them and come across splashes of something that he was chopping or using while cooking, I still get very emotional. Those are the recipes that I tried first from those books, because they were the ones he was playing with. I never ever follow a recipe to the T. I’ll read it and then play around with the ingredients and flavours to put my spin on it and I know he used to do exactly the same thing.
When I started this little adventure, it was with marmalade and the recipe that I had adapted and made my own had come from one of his books titled “Clearly Delicious” by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz. It’s an illustrated guide to preserving, pickling and bottling.
So I thought I would share one of those recipes with you, should you feel so inclined to make your own marmalade. I’ve selected a really easy one with minimal ingredients, so it’s pretty cost effective too.
You will need:
9 large lemons
3.5 litres of water
What you do:
Unless you pick the lemons from a tree, soak them in warm water first to remove the wax.
Pare the zest from the lemons and slice into thin strips.
Roughly chop the flesh.
Keep all the pips and any juice. THIS IS VITAL. If you don’t have any pips, your marmalade is not going to set and you will have a gloopy syrup. All the pectin is in the pips.
Put the pips on a square of muslin and tie up tightly into a bag with a long piece of string.
Put the chopped flesh, and any juice, with the sliced zest into a pot. Try and use a pot with a good solid base.
Tie the muslin bag to the pot handle, so that it rests on the fruit.
Pour in the water and bring to the boil.
Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until the zest is very soft. The mixture should have reduced by about a third. REMEMBER, the wider your pot, the faster the liquid will evaporate, so keep an eye on it. If any scum comes to the surface, just skim it off. Lift the bag out of the pot and squeeze all the juice back into the pot.
Discard the bag.
Measure the juice.
For each 600 ml juice, weigh 450 g sugar. DON’T THUMB-SUCK!!!!
Warm the sugar. By warming the sugar first, it helps it dissolve faster. If you don’t know how…Put the oven onto it’s lowest setting, and put the sugar in an ovenproof bowl. Warm the sugar in the oven for about 15 minutes.
Pour the juice back into the pot and add the sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Boil rapidly WITHOUT stirring for about 15 minutes, or until it reaches setting point.
I highly recommend a sugar thermometer…it takes the guessing out of the equation.
Pour into warmed sterilised jars, to within 3 mm of the tops. To sterilise jars: fill them with hot water. Empty and place in the microwave. Nuke on high for two minutes. I place the lids in boiling water. Fill immediately. Dry the lids with a CLEAN cloth and seal immediately.
I store my marmalade in my pantry cupboard it lasts for yonks. I’ve opened bottles that I made the previous year and it was perfect. Obviously, once you’ve opened the jar, you need to store it in the fridge.
I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to open a jar of something that you have made. You will not believe how incredible the taste is. Home made is really so much nicer than store bought.
Happy jamming xxx