When my friend Val gave me a pot of her orange and apricot marmalade last year, I decided after one tiny morsel that I would have to make a batch myself. Sadly, I had missed all the 2012 Seville oranges by the time I got round to thinking about getting my preserving pan out, so I was determined not to miss out this year.
So when Val told me that these were in our local Tesco...
...I had to ask very nicely for the recipe and get on with the job!
The day before you wish to make your marmalade, wash and juice 675g of Seville oranges (or thereabouts) and 1 lemon
Put the juice in a large bowl
Use a teaspoon to scoop out the remaining pulp and pips, putting them into a smaller bowl with a pint of water. ( I scraped out some of the thicker bits of pith too.)
Cut the fruit skins into thin slivers and put into the bowl with the juice, then add 4 and a half pints of water
Cover and leave the two bowls to sit for a day.
The next day, take 450g dried apricots and chop up quite small
Place a sieve lined with a good-sized square of muslin over the large bowl with the rind and juice in, and pour the pith, pip and pulp bowl into it. Tie the muslin securely with string.
Pour the juice and rind into a preserving pan or other large pan, and add the muslin bag containing the pith, pips and pulp. Val recommends giving the pan a light buttering to ensure nothing catches, but I forgot to do this!
Cook this mixture for 45 minutes till the rind is tender and the liquid reduced by about a third.
Take the muslin bag out and add the chopped apricots and 6lb of ordinary granulated sugar.
Bring up to the boil fairly slowly, to ensure the sugar dissolves fully.
Then boil rapidly for 20 minutes by which time it should have reached setting point.
I did not actually TEST that setting point had been reached - though I did put my sugar thermometer in and the required temperature of 220 degrees had been reached - and I really should have done, because when I picked up one of the jars this morning, it clearly had not set!
Looking back, when I poured the marmalade into the twelve sterilised jars I had prepared, the rind was mostly sitting quite low in the jar, and this was probably a clue that this stuff was going to have the consistency of runny honey when cool!
So I tipped all the jars back into the preserving pan, and brought it back up to boil, again boiling it rapidly for about ten minutes.
I had prepared a chilled plate this time and TESTED the concoction regularly for its set - a small amount placed on the chilled plate, then left for a minute and then pushed to see if a wrinkly skin has developed.
When I was satisfied that setting point really HAD been reached I poured it into re-sterilised jars. The rind is now evenly distributed, which I take as a good sign, and there's no sloshing!
Cold toast for breakfast tomorrow I think, and marmalade sandwiches for tea, followed by a slice of Marmalade Loaf, I suspect!