Monday 13 January 2014

2014 Marmalade is IN

Yesterday we put in the full of a Winter's day in the kitchen converting Seville oranges into marmalade.  The recipe, adapted from Deli O'Smith, is idiot-proof because you boil up the fruit separately to mobilise the pectin in the pips and membranes and then add the sugar and boil it until a drop or two of the glop sets on a cold plate. Other recipes run these two separate processes together into the same time frame and so it's a little quicker in elapsed time but also more prone to failure. I try to minimise the amount of sugar in any jam that I make so that it's fruity but that means that the second sugar-meets-pectin reaction is likely to result in jam that's a little runny.  That's what happened with the first of two batches yesterday, so I last night I thought I might have to re-boil that batch with another half-kilo of sugar and maybe some lemon juice.  Or bottle out and throw in a lump of frozen crab-apple pulp. Apples are so rich in pectin that they should have sure-set tattooed on their skins.  On the second batch, we learned from experience and lashed in an extra half kilo of sugar which did the trick nicely.  So Aoife has returned to Dublin with 16 pots of 2014 vintage marmalade; and we have half a crate of bright orange oranges yet to convert/preserve.

Making jam is rich in kitchen science.  You can, for example, persuade jam to 'set' in different ways:
  • if you add a tea-spoon of orange juice to a kilo of sugar et voila! it's set; 
  • you can buy pectin as a powder or, as I say, as apple-cores; 
  • pectin sets better at low (acidic) pH, which shouldn't be an issue with oranges but lemon juice is more tart and so has more bang per pip.  
This morning however,  our first run marmalade is looking solid enough.  Not solid so you can turn the pot upside down, but it won't run off the toast and down your shirt-front either. All it needs now is the label. But now I must off to work and try to work out when I'll next have 5 hours elapsed time to make more marmalade.

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