7 September 2014

Nigella Challenge: Marmalade

I have made this marmalade in many incarnations. The first was an orange and grapefruit, the next (and my personal favourite) was a deep burnished blood orange batch and today I made a classic orange version. I've also had success with grapefruit, mandarin, and an orange and lemonade version (Lemonades are a hybrid citrus variety - a cross between an orange and a lemon. You won't find them grown commercially but sometimes you do spot them at farmers markets and old orchards.). Once I get a few more jars, I'm going to test out a tangelo version. And by then I'll pretty much be out of citrus types to try! I'd tell you which ones taste best, but I'm not a marmalade fan (I use it in cooking a lot as a pork/chicken marinade and in a great, fudging chocolate cake). The best feedback has been from the grapefruit and orange, and the blood orange batches.

This recipe is very simple, but it does take time and patience. There's two hours boiling the fruit and the chopping, especially for a fine cut, is a little tedious so make sure you have a day set aside to spend in the kitchen.

I have said 3 x 350ml jars, but I sometimes find this makes a little more or less, and so I always sterilise more than I think I will need. And I'm also using an assortment on jars I've collected and hoarded so it is difficult to determine sizes. I have included notes on how to sterilise you jars, and its all very easy - just watch fingers! We're dealing with hot jars and hot sugar so it could be a recipe for disaster. I go for a combination of tea towels and clothes for screwing on lids, but I encourage you to do whatever you find logical and suits you best.
  • 800g citrus 
  • 1kg white sugar (or jam/preserving sugar if you can get your hands on it)
  • juice 2 lemons
  • 3 x 350ml jars (or equivalent)
Place a saucer in your freezer.

Place citrus in a large saucepan, fill with enough water so that they float freely, bring to boil and simmer for about 2 hours. You will probably need to top up the water occasionally so put the jug on to boil for hot water and keep an eye on the situation.

While this is happening prep you jars by giving them a good wash and rinse, and preheating the oven to 120C. Place the jars and lids on a baking tray. There's no need to dry them, and I recommend doing this even if you're jars are clean. Just before you take the citrus off the heat pop the jars in the oven.

When the citrus is soft, drain and place fruit on a chopping board. Chop finely, removing any seeds, and return to pan. There may be some fancy work with tongs as the fruit will be HOT when it comes out. I find that cutting it all into strips first and then finely chopping is the easiest way. Warning: this is not a tidy job. Your bench will be covered in juice by the end of this, try as you may. Add sugar and lemon juice. Dissolve sugar on a gentle heat, then bring to boil. Boil until setting point is reached (test by placing a teaspoon of marmalade onto the cold saucer - if it forms a skin then its ready). This will take 15-20 minutes.

Remove jars from oven. Ladle (interestingly I use an old tea cup, but a small heatproof jug is probably your best bet) hot marmalade into hot jars and screw on lids immediately. This will seal the jars so they can be stored in the pantry until needed. Label jars (including the date) when they're cool.