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It may be cold and snowy outside, but I have been warm and toasty inside making marmalade. The best oranges to use for making marmalade are Seville oranges as they are bitter and counteract the amount of sugar required, thus giving a wonderful tangy taste that's not too sweet. They are only available in January from your local fruit and veg shop, but be warned they sell out quickly.
1kg Seville oranges
1 large lemon
2.5 litres water
a knob of butter
Marmalade isn't as difficult as you think to make, but it is time consuming. I am always tempted to make a double batch, but this never works as the marmalade doesn't boil sufficiently to make a proper set and the pan is never big enough. You can use a very large saucepan, but it's worth investing in a proper preserving pan with a thick base and shaped sides.
1. Lightly butter the base of the pan to help prevent the marmalade catching.
2. Measure 2.5 litres of water into the pan
3. My top tip for preparing the peel is to use an apple peeler! It's fast and cuts the peel off the oranges creating one long thin strip, which can then be folded and cut up into small pieces - amazingly quick and effective! Put the peel in the pan.
4. Cut the peeled oranges and lemon in half and squeeze the juice out of them, again I cheat and use an electric juicer - I'm all for an easy life. Add the juice to the pan.
6. Tie the pips and pith up loosely in the cloth and tie this to the pan handle so that the bag dangles in the water.
7. Bring the pan to the boil and simmer very gently (uncovered) for approximately 2 hours, while you get on with Tweeting, Facebook or other important stuff! The liquid will have reduced as it simmers.
8. Test the peel to make sure it is soft by pressing it between your finger and thumb - if you can squeeze it in half its ready. Remove the bag of pips and leave to cool on a plate.
9. Chill 2 side plates in the fridge - an odd thing to do, but you will need them later to test the set.
11. Now that it's cool squeeze the bag of pips so that the pectin oozes out, scrape it off into the pan - the only way to do this effectively is to get your hands sticky! Whisk the pectin into the marmalade.
12. Increase the heat until the marmalade comes to a really fast boil. Keep it at a rapid boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally - if you have a jam thermometer you can check it has reached 105°c/220°f.
Don't go off doing other things as it can sometime boil over, even in a huge pan.
13. Remove the pan from the heat and spoon a little marmalade onto the cold plate from the fridge, and place back in the fridge for 3 minutes. Test to see if you have a set yet by pushing the mixture with your finger - if it wrinkles up and leaves a clean trail where your finger was then it's ready.
If a little runny reboil for another 5 minutes and test again.
14. Remove the pan from the heat. If there is a lot of surface scum add a knob of butter to disperse it.
15. Leave the marmalade to cool for 20 minutes - you can go off and walk the dog, or feed the animals!
16. Heat the jars in a medium oven for 5 minutes to steralize.
If you don't have wax discs you can just put the lid on, turn the jar upside down to seal and store upside down.
Marmalade is best served on our delicious homemade granary bread - I'm sure Paddington Bear would be delighted to stay at Hoe Grange and try some marmalade sandwiches!
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