Oranges and Lemons

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Last January I sat down to write my first post for Garlic and Sapphire, I was a little in awe to be joining a team of interesting and articulate bloggers, and wasn't a hundred per cent sure what I should write about. After a great deal of pondering I decided to focus on what I know and love , seasonal food and I have really loved sharing some of my favourite food ideas over the last year. Now I have a further challenge, to continue writing about seasonal foods with out repeating myself! Fortunately, even in the depths of winter there are plenty of interesting foods to be found, and January/February are the  perfect months to work with Citrus.

Last year I wrote about Lemon Curd a great favourite in my household, But marmalade is also popular.  After the frantic activity of Christmas and New Year,  the days seem longer, and I find that there is time to tackle marmalade.  Additionally, the Seville oranges, which are essential for that bitter marmalade taste are in the shops for only a few short weeks.

Seville Oranges

I recommend allowing two days for marmalade making, as whenever I try to rush it, a problem arises. I made the mistake a few years ago of making a large batch of marmalade and ended up wasting 2.5kgs of oranges.  Now I make smaller batches (1kg oranges plus juice of 1 lemon) and find that the set is quicker and the quality more consistent.  I peel the oranges and chop the skins into slivers, it does take time, but the resulting homemade marmalade is worth the effort.  (Don't forget to retain the pith and pips, as well as the juice.)

Seville Marmalade

The finely chopped skin is softened for several hours  over a gentle heat, in 2 litres of water (with the added orange juice and pith and pips tied up in a muslin cloth),  I then tend to leave it overnight. The following day I add the sugar.  I know purists use ordinary sugar, but I find I get a better set with preserving sugar.  I add 2kg of sugar to the 1kg of fruit. Getting the set can vary, anytime from 8 - 15 minutes, I use the saucer method to test. There are plenty of interesting marmalade recipes around.  Sarah Raven has a delicious Seville Orange Marmalade Recipe on the website, do take a look. This year I am really excited as for the first time, I have Bergamots.  I have been trying to discover more about them, they seem to be some sort of cross between oranges and lemons, and apparently make super marmalade or curd.  I am going to try both!  I can't wait.

Bergamots for making marmalade

Fruit for making marmalade

I hope you get a chance to make Marmalade, it really is very satisfying, and a great way to start making preserves for the year.  If you can't get Seville oranges, there are plenty of other great recipes to try, such as lime, lemon and lime or mandarin marmalades. Paddington Bear had the right idea, Marmalade is marvellous.

Thanks for reading,