marmalade mornings

"The thrill of making one's own jams, jellies & preserves never seems to diminish.  With every making we have pleasure in seeing the results of our labour and feel the joy of achievement and economy" Miss Amy Schauer

Recipe

3 Fruits Marmalade

4 lemons ❤ 2 large oranges ❤ 2 large grapefruit ❤ 1.1 litres/2 pints water ❤ 900g/2lbs sugar

Grapefruit & Ginger Marmalade

3 lemons ❤ 3 large grapefruit ❤ 3.5 litres water ❤ 2.5 cm piece of fresh root ginger (peel it and add to the pan, remove it before adding the sugar) ❤ 2.25kg sugar ❤ 175grams chopped crystallized ginger (stir in after setting and skimming)

Method + Tips

You will need; a good quality, large (e.g holds 13litres+) heavy based jam pot, long handled wooden spoons, sharp chefs knife for paring fruit, scales, metal ladle, stainless steel jug for pouring, muslin for tying up pips, kitchen string for tying up muslin bag, wooden board, sugar thermometer (not essential but handy), citrus zester to remove the fruit skin but not bitter pith and sterilised jars/lids.

This general principle of making marmalade works with most citrus fruits. There's alot of little tips here. But it's straight forward and each tip is important to achieve success every time. You will notice conserve recipes vary slightly from cook to cook. Stick to the basic principles -  beginner jam makers, remind yourself it's an art form that requires time.

We've talked equipment. Let's talk produce. Love the sour class of citrus for marmalade i.e Seville oranges, cumquats, lemons, grapefruit, pomelos and limes.  Never use cheap, poor quality fruit for any jam making. Choose firm freshly picked - on the under-ripe side is terrific. Under-ripe fruit contains a good balance of acid and pectin to help it jell. Never use overripe soft fruit in jam making. And it only takes one rotten little berry from a punnet to destroy your efforts. Fruit highest in pectin levels; currants, cranberries, lemons, quinces, cumquats, grapefruit, all oranges & tangerines. Grab a fruit guide from your local greengrocer or markets.

Let's talk balance of flavours. Only limited by your creativity. I adore a combination of citrus fruits (e.g 3 or 4 fruits as above). I'm also keen on additions to balance out combinations - like grapefruit with organic local ginger - such as the recipe above. Pear or Apricot with vanilla bean, Rhubarb with ginger, Dried Fig with walnuts, Orange with coriander and ginger - the possibilites are endless.  

Prep Sterilise your jars in a very hot cycle in the dishwasher. Then stand them on a wooden board to insulate the jars and your benchtop. Wash and dry your fruit well to commence. Place a saucer in the freezer for later. Lightly butter the bottom of your jam pot.

DON'T  be tempted to cut corners, ever use a microwave or food processor. Make marmalade over two days. Jam & Conserves in an hour or two. When using dried fruit for conserves, soak overnight. Don't increase the quantities unless you have large commercial pots/equipment. Respect the process below. It's absolutely worth it.

Preparing the fruit Wash and dry fruit well. Peel the rind off the citrus using a zester. The zester that looks like an odd fork, with tiny holes at the tip of its teeth. These holes cut lovely long fine strips of rind from the citrus fruit and leave behind the white pith if you don't push down too hard. Halve and quarter the fruit, slicing the fruit into segments. Put any seeds, pith and trimmings aside.

Muslin Bag trimmings  Now put the seeds and white core/pith into a muslin bag. Place fruit, juice and muslin bag in a tupperware plastic bowl, adding enough cold water to barely cover fuit to float. Must be non metallic. Rest overnight.  In this way you will never have to use store bought pectin, jam sugar or jam setter. The all natural pectin from this slow food process will set your jam perfectly.  

Boiling the fruit  Next morning, transfer all contents of the bowl to your big jam pot. Never have this pot more than 1/3 full. Hang muslin bag tied over the side of the pot so its dangling in liquid.  Cover and bring mixture to the boil over high heat, reduce heat and simmer for about 45mins-1hour, or until rind is tender. Liquid level will reduce.

Measuring the fruit/adding sugar Using a stainless steel heatproof jug, allow 1 cup of sugar to each cup of fruit mixture, using the quantities of sugar in the recipe as a rough guide. Remove muslin bag. You can press extra pectin out of the muslin bag with a wooden spoon against the side of the pot before you remove it & before adding the sugar.  Use regular but good quality granulated white sugar for clear sparkling jam.  I avoid the home brand sugar for jam making. Return the fruit mix and sugar to the stove, stirring well over high heat without boiling until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Rapid Boil  Boil rapidly until the marmalade jells, reaching setting point. Keep a saucer in the freezer to test your jam has set nicely. It's called the 'wrinkle' test. When you push the jam with your finger on a cold saucer, the jam will wrinkle up when set nicely.  Jam is ready to set at 105-110C (221-230F) if you have a candy thermometer you wish to use. I just wrinkle test it.

 

Finish  Stand the marmalade for 15 minutes to allow fruit to settle and disperse. Remove and discard any scum from the surface. Pour out into sterilised jars & seal while hot. Label and date. Store in cool dark place. 

You can preserve everything from prickly pears and pineapples to melon and marrow. Be brave, give it a go. Message me if you need any more tips or trouble shooting. Happy to help.

Seasonal Jotting

Each morning I spread warm buttered toast with a teaspoon of handmade marmalade. It's so exciting to preserve food until nature makes it available again next season. Beware the joy of achievement in this dying art form. Making preserves is seriously addictive once you master it. Better yet, the bright handcut marmalade gifts are so pretty for friends at Christmas or to use on glazed baked ham.  

Here in Queensland we grow sensational citrus and some of the best organic ginger in the world. Buderim Ginger on the Sunshine Coast exports thousands of tonnes of fresh and processed ginger to over 17 countries each year. Their Ginger Festival in January is a wonderful flowering event. The varieties are overwhelming.

We've found the perfect damp, partially shaded spot at Weka Weka to grow this amazing herb.  At night their flowers are highly scented and seductive. Ginger grows from rhizomes - an underground bulb-like fleshy arrangement. This is also the commercial part. The rhizome which is the root, is best planted in Spring - September or October - here in Australia. I suggest always storing your fresh ginger in the freezer in a sealed plastic bag. It retains its moisture and nutrients for months.  As an addition to the Grapefruit Marmalade above - and so many of our Asian recipes - it's spectacular. Not to mention a great tonic and aphrodisiac... I'm told.