This weekend was all about the marmalade.
So, what happened was this:
- I asked on Twitter for someone near to the markets to see if anywhere had any Seville oranges. Someone I know said they’d pop in. They found some, asked me if I wanted any, and I said “yes, ok, get me a fiver’s worth” because I knew that in Sainsbury’s Sevilles were about £2/kg, and I figured these would be about £1/kg.
- Alison then got back to me and said that they didn’t have a fiver’s worth, would £3.50 be enough. I replied that would be fine. It’s two batches of marmalade, after weeding out the really bad quality ones you expect to get from a fruit stall at the back of the outdoor market.
- After work I met up with Alison for a cuppa and she gave me two carrier bags full to the brim of oranges. “They were 50p a kilo. I couldn’t have physically carried a fiver’s worth”, she said. I’m mildly horrified. Also, I bought the tea and promised her a jar or two, so she refused to take any money for the oranges.
- I went home, looked at all these oranges and thought “I don’t have enough jars.” I filtered out the truly bad oranges and was left with about 6kg. Six batches. The recipe I use reckons on 6 1lb jars per batch, but I know damn well that it makes closer to 8. So I bought 8kg of sugar, and the next day asked on the werk email list if anybody had a carrier bag of jars they didn’t need.
- The next day I get an ikea bag full of jars, in exchange for a handful of oranges – so I’m down to 5kg – and a case of mixed 1/2lb & 1lb jars in exchange for the promise of a jar of the finished product. I can’t carry the case home, so I leave it on my desk and plan to pick it up in the car on Saturday.
- I prep some oranges on Thursday night to cook on Friday (it’s a 8hr min process). On Friday I do one batch, then it starts snowing. Can’t drive to get the jars. So I prep another batch, and while batch 2 is cooling & 3 is waiting to be cooked I get the bus to werk & fill my rucksack to the brim with jars.
- I finished the last of the batches of marmalade off at lunchtime on Sunday. In total, 45 jars and a tumbler where I’d run out of sterlised jars and needed somewhere to put the remnants of the second batch. The whole house smelled of oranges for two days. It was fantastic.
There was a batch of just orange, cooked to 107°C. This is a bit stiff but perfectly edible. I might use this for cooking with, though. There’s another batch of just orange, this time to 104°C, which is a softer set but much easier to spread on toast. I’m really happy with this one. Then there’s some Orange-Lemon-Lime – because I had all these lemon shells piling up & wanted to use them instead of binning them, and thought lime juice would be nice to go in there for a change, and some orange & ginger using the jar of stem I bought to use in chocs at xmas, and then forgot about.
So, for the price of 8kg of sugar (about £7), 39p on end-of-day lemons, and the gas used to boil up the fruit, I have 45 mixed-size jars of marmalade. And even if I do say so myself, they’re bloody tasty, too.
Oh! The recipe! Well, it’s basically up to you how you do this, there are boatloads of recipes out there, but I prefer to juice & slice my oranges before cooking (about 1Kg, leave to soak in the juice & water for 8hrs or so), then boil until soft enough to squish between your fingers, then add sugar (2Kg) & juice of two lemons, then boil until you can pass the crinkle test. Or, if you have a thermometer, until it hits 104°C. Then pot in sterilised jars.