“Is that you blogging again?” The tone is teasing but perhaps just a tad reproachful. As if I am always up here blogging which of course is not true. After two weeks away from my blog (been too busy blogging elsewhere) I spent yesterday doing something much more productive.
Home made marmalade. There is really nothing quite like it. I’m not much good at making jam. Getting it to set is the really difficult bit. But last year I actually managed to make marmalade that set well enough to stay on the toast without being as tough as toffee. I decided to have another go this year but nearly missed the boat.
Seville oranges are hard to come by because they actually have a season (they seem to be one of the very few fruits growers haven’t hybridised into constant production) which is why they taste so real. This year they seemed particularly elusive. No sign in Waitrose or Sainsbury’s (not when we looked anyway) and Tesco sent me blood oranges instead. Ray finally tracked some down in Real Foods and brought back 3kilos of them.
So yesterday, instead of blogging a rant about Delia’s new book How to Cheat at Cooking – which admittedly would be a cheek since I haven’t read it, and nor do I intend to – I set about making a first batch of marmalade
As before I used the basic recipe for Seville orange marmalade you can find in most good cook books (Jane Grigson’s classic Fruit or the very good Jocasta Innes Pauper’s Cookbook and I dare say Delia has it covered too). But this time I discovered three secrets for success.
First, the knife Dougal gave me for my birthday. So big and sharp I managed to chop the cooked oranges into nice chunky pieces (without adding bits of my fingers) surprisingly quickly.
Second, the cook’s thermometer showed when the gloop in the pot reached setting point (none of that tricky business trying to test little blobs of liquid on an ice cold saucer) reminding me that when I was at school cooking was taught as ‘domestic science’.
And third, I cheated and bought special jam sugar with added pectin which meant the marmalade reached setting point on the thermometer in less than 10 minutes and took less sugar to get there (2.5 kilos rather than the 3 kilos recommended in the recipe). So the taste is fresh and beautifully bitter. Cheating like Delia maybe but not a tin of mince in sight.
Just one problem. This year’s marmalade tastes so good it is very tempting to have more than one piece of toast. Bugger it. This is Mother’s Day so I can have another bit of toast. And blog about it after breakast too!