If it’s January, then it must be marmalade time. What better way to banish the winter blues than to fill the kitchen with bright orange Sevilles and the whole house with the smell of simmering oranges. More than any other preserve, the process of making marmalade seems closest to alchemy, taking the base metals of citrus fruit and sugar and turning them into gold in a jar.
For the second time, I am planning to enter the Dalmain Marmalade Festival competition. They run the Marmalade Awards each year, with all the proceeds going to charity.
There are 13 different categories, and this year I’m aiming for the Dark and Chunky category, though if I can get hold of some interesting citrus fruits, I might try the “citrus with interesting additions” category too!
As I had such success with it last year, I’m using River Cottage’s whole fruit method. Rather than slicing up the peel before boiling, the whole fruit is simmered for two to two-and-a-half hours. Here are the oranges bubbling away in the pot. I wish I could link to the citrussy scents that filled the kitchen.
Afterwards, the peel is chopped up, as big or as small as you like. I once used the food processor for this, and though it speeded things up, it was hard to control how big the bits of peel were. So I’m afraid that hand chopping is best.
In theory, it only needs ten minutes’ boiling, but I had to do it a lot longer. If it was any other jam, I’d worry that the colour would be too deep and that a caramelly flavour had been introduced, but for marmalade, dark and caramelly works for me.
So finally here are some of the 12 jars I ended up with. W and I don’t always get through it all in one year, but it always seems to be gratefully received by friends and family.