I didn’t mean to make all the marmalade in one go, but that was how it has happened. Not in one batch, of course, that would have been silly (yes, I am silly, but not that silly. There are limits). I used a method I never have before, which was to cook the oranges whole and then cut them up. It was in the Times, Lindsay Bareham’s recipe. I have a book of hers, which I like very much, so I’m inclined to trust (I know, darlings, it doesn’t take much) – anyway, I thought I’d try it, if only to disregard in future.
You’d like a link, I daresay. I’m not sure if it’s okay to quote someone else’s recipe, because I’ve read that there isn’t a copyright on them – not on a traditional sort of thing, anyway. If you can’t access it, let me know – I”m afraid I’ve changed it, anyway. This is it. I’d advise not adding the sugar when Lindsay does, as if any of the orange skin isn’t completely soft and you need to simmer it further, it won’t work once sugar has been added. Also, it seems to me a really messy thing to have the seeds in a bag in with the sugary mixture. What I did was to cut up the oranges, put the seedy pulp in a stocking and dangle it in the water with the cut-up peel, and then simmer it until I was sure it was all done, then take out the stocking, let it cool a bit, squeeze it, add the sugar, let that dissolve completely and then boil the marmalade until done.
The proportions of fruit and sugar are the same as my usual (Delia) recipe, except for an extra lemon. She says 10 oranges, but the sizes vary vastly, so I went for a kilo, which happened to be 12 of mine. There is much less water, but the pan is covered, so it’s fine. It’s a good recipe and I’ll use it again. Some comments on the website said that the marmalade was reluctant to set – she said it can take 24 hours, but mine set all right.
While I was doing this, I also thought I’d pinch some of the peel for my gin and vodka. Unfortunately, once I’d peeled off the, er, peel (with a potato, er, peeler), I couldn’t find the bottle of gin that I’m sure I bought before Christmas, though I did find the vodka. I do think I bought it, but I know we didn’t drink it. Anyway, in the end I looked in the freezer and found the remains of a bottle of gin and a bottle of vodka, not much of either, so I decided to make lemon vodka and Seville orange vodka. It was an ordinary bottle, not a litre, so I had to work out the proportions which, fortunately, turned out to be 140g of sugar, which is just 5 oz. I can do decimal, but I’ll never think decimal and my scales are imperial. I only had the one bottle and a bitsworth of vodka, though two actual bottles, so I’ll top up tomorrow. Then I’ll make lemon gin too and compare in due course.
I got a production line going – simmered one lot of oranges in a big saucepan while I was finishing off the marmalade in the preserving pan, fitting in the washing of jars and the potting in between – oh, and looking after Pugsley – and it seemed a good idea to carry on. I did 4 batches, which is a yearsworth, including some to give away, surely. It was so successful that, if Al has a few oranges left, I don’t mind putting them in the freezer in kilo bagsful, ready to cook if we run short.
All this took several hours, and I’d also volunteered to cook dinner – a deceptively simple number involving leeks, hot-smoked salmon, tomatoes, pasta, crème frâiche and courgettes. It was all done by 20 to 8 and I was glad to sit down. My back hurts a bit, I’ll stack up the pillows tonight.
After dinner, I checked emails and was shattered to find that a friend is in hospital being treated for cancer. He and his wife are dear friends, and their son died suddenly, in his mid forties, from an unsuspected aneurism, just before Christmas. A mutual friend told me. I phoned Joanne, got the answerphone and had to leave a message. I’m ashamed to say that I was audibly in tears, which is hardly supportive. I couldn’t help it. Fine friend I am, though. Honestly, darlings, useless.