Adventures in self-preservation – Whisky ginger marmalade

Marmalade finishedI’m still trawling through approximately one billion photos from our wedding and honeymoon, so none of those yet. Instead, I have been taking further steps towards full domesticity by attempting to make marmalade.

When I was a kid, my mum and I would make marmalade using a handy pre-prepared tin of peel and pulp (Ma-Made, still available today) – I remember fun afternoons fogging up the kitchen windows and getting everything covered with a sticky layer of boiled sugar. But I thought I’d test out my lovely new Lakeland maslin pan by making the real deal – Nigel Slater’s seville orange marmalade.

It turns out there’s a really good reason to use the pre-prepared cans – making marmalade properly is a complete pain in the balls. The recipe starts off by telling you to “peel 1.3kg of seville oranges”. That’s about 14 oranges, and a potato peeler doesn’t work (I tried). Then you have to juice them.

That sounded like a right faff so instead I got out my Kenwood chef and found the juicer attachment. I juiced the lot, then used a grapefruit spoon (with a serrated edge) to scoop out the pith, then sliced the peel.

Marmalade prep

Next, you’re meant to put the pips in a “muslin bag” to boil up with the peel. I don’t have any muslin, so I put them in a (clean!) footsock and tied it up. It didn’t look pretty, but it did work:

pulp and pips

You then boil the peel and pips gently for about an hour or so, then stir in a load of sugar and the juice of 2 lemons. I also added in about 6 lumps of stem ginger, chopped up fairly small, and a good slug of Scotch.

Nigel then says to boil it for 15 minutes until it’s at setting point. In reality, it took at least 45 minutes to get there, so the moral of the story is to keep testing. Or get a jam thermometer, which I don’t have.

Boiling marmalade

I put in a bit more whsky and poured it neatly into jars without spilling it all over the kitchen (hurrah for jam funnels!), but it turns out I was too impatient and should have waited a few minutes more, as the peel rose to the surface. I’ll also need to wait till tomorrow to see if it’s set properly, but my taste tests along the way tell me it is delicious.

Marmalade in jars

2 responses to “Adventures in self-preservation – Whisky ginger marmalade

  1. There’s another, less exasperating way – no juicing, no wrestling with the pith or losing hold of slippery peel. Simmer the oranges whole for three hours in the water, then hook them out and let them cool down enough to be handled; cut them in half, scoop out the pulp and dump it back in the boiling liquid having separated out the pips. Boil the pips separately for a few minutes in some of the liquid to extract the maximum pectin – then tip that liquid back in with the rest . Finally slice up the peel which is very soft after all that simmering and throw that in too. Let it stand an hour – or overnight, whatever you have patience for – then add your sugar, stir over low heat until it’s all dissolved, then boil hard until setting point. I too have sweated over your method and feel life is much improved since I discovered this alternative (endorsed by St Delia but don’t let that put you off).

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