Saturday, September 8, 2012

Make time for marmalade

I've been on holiday this past week. I don't mean I've been off gallivanting around somewhere exciting, merely that I haven't been at work, which is all the excitement I needed. You might think that in this case I should have had plenty of time for Edmonds recipes, but in fact I've spent most of the week outside, turning a pile of scruffy bricks into edging for my equally scruffy garden.

I couldn't neglect my Edmonds Challenge for the whole week, however, so yesterday I found time to make some marmalade (p227).

This actually took a bit of forward planning, since I had to prepare the fruit the previous evening. I didn't particularly want jars and jars of marmalade hanging around in the cupboard, so I chose to reduce the quantity: instead of using four large grapefruit and two large lemons, I used two smallish grapefruit and one medium-sized lemon.

The fruit is to be chopped, minced or sliced, then covered with water and left to stand overnight. The recipe doesn't indicate that the fruit is to be left unpeeled when mincing/chopping/slicing, but since most marmalades have peel in them I assumed I was supposed to just leave it on.

I chopped the fruit into manageable chunks, removed the pips, and blitzed the chunks up in the food processor. The resulting mixture I tipped into a bowl, added water in what I calculated to be about the right amount, based on the reduced quantity of fruit, then left it to stand overnight.

That bit was so easy I sort of assumed the rest of my marmalade-making would be similarly simple. I breezed into the kitchen on Friday morning, hoping to have my marmalade made within the hour, after which I could get back out in the garden.

The fruit and water mixture, after standing overnight, is to be boiled for 45 minutes "or until fruit is soft and pulpy". Well, I figured it probably wouldn't take the full 45 minutes since I was making a smaller quantity, so I kept an eye on it while I busied myself with washing dishes and sterilising jars.

The 45-minute mark came and went, but I still wasn't happy with my pulp. Certainly the fruit was cooked, but it all just seemed too watery. I'd been boiling with the lid on the pot, so I took this off and boiled for a further 15 minutes or so, allowing more steam to escape.

This seemed to do the trick - the mixture was much less sloppy-looking than before, as I tipped it into a jug to measure how much pulp was there: a total of four cups, so I returned it to the pot with an equal amount of sugar, and brought it to the boil.

Then followed the tiresome business of testing for setting point, though actually the marmalade took only ten minutes or so of boiling to reach a point where I was confident it would set. I removed my pot from the heat, ladelled hot marmalade into my prepared jars, and topped each with a jam seal.

The marmalade set beautifully, but I'm not really pleased with the flavour. I'm not a huge marmalade fan at the best of times, but this one seems particularly bitter. I suspect it's because the grapefruit I used had very thick skins, thus adding extra pith into the mix. So if you're planning to make marmalade, try to choose less pithy fruit, and you should expect it to take up to an hour and a half - no matter what quantities you're using!

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