Saturday, 16 January 2010

Are you a boiler or a slicer?






Late January means one thing to lovers of home made marmalade - Seville season. The sour, pippy fruits that make such delightful breakfast fare are around for such a short time that one must snap them up the moment one sees them. So like so many other marmalade fiends  I am currently overseeing a  bubbling pan of peel and filling the house with wonderful citrus oil steam. I am taking advantage of the hour and half needed to get the peel really soft to write this up but when I add the sugar I will be giving the pan my full attention.

Marmalade makers can be divided into two camps - boilers and choppers.  Some boil the fruit whole and then slice while others slice first, soak then boil. It depends what kind of marmalade you like I think the initial slicing results in a fresher tasting, lighter conserve. Actually now I think about it, it might be three camps if you count the hand chopping versus food processor debate. I cut my peel by hand it takes time but good marmalade is worth it and gives you greater control over the size of peel in your marmalade.

 I always make sure to buy twice as many marmalade oranges as I need. They freeze beautifully and by June when I have run out of marmalade I boil them up whole up and make another batch (the peel goes a bit spongy making it harder to chop). This means that by the end of the year I am a member of both the boiler and slicer camps. Tonight I am chopping, boiling, pouring, skimming, testing and praying it will turn out to be a clear, wobbly jelly. It may sound strange but spending a few hours in a warm, steamy kitchen listening to Edith Wharton's The Custom of The Country on Radio 4 is one of the most delightful evenings I can imagine. Will my marmalade set? You will have to wait til tomorrow to find out.

Sunday morning
Well I don't like to boast but my marmalade  has set beautifully, a glorious amber with the slices suspended as if by magic with a lightly wobbling jelly. I won't give you a recipe as everyone has their own, I use Marguerite Patten's Sweet Seville Marmalade recipe in her fantastic book on preserving (part of Grub Street's excellent The Basic Basics series).  My only advice would be boil hard, use a thermometer and test early, my marmalade reached its setting point at just 17 minutes (once past the setting point it will never set no matter how long you boil it).

No comments:

Post a Comment