I’ve always thought that if I ever went on Desert Island Discs, I’d have to say that my luxury would be a lifetime supply of marmalade. Ever since I was a child, when my mum got me hooked on it, I have gone along with Paddington Bear and loved the tangy, very rich variety – the more peel, the better: no Silver Shred for me! – and not a day goes by without me spreading it on a thick piece of bread and butter or secretly dipping a finger in a jar. So when I read the blog that our food and drink editor Alison wrote a couple of weeks ago about it being the perfect time to make Seville marmalade, I thought that now must be the chance for me to produce my own for the first time.
After getting my supply of oranges, plus two lemons, the sugar, plus the muslin squares (from Lakeland, of course – its jam-making section is fantastic), I set to work, peeling the fruit by hand. I then squeezed out the juice and flesh before putting it with the pips and pith in the muslin, which was set over a bowl.
Then I chopped up the zest as small as possible. About four hours later, when my hands seemed to have given up the ghost, I suddenly wondered why I hadn’t put it all in a food processor to chop up! Never mind, I told myself, you’re doing it the proper way – no half-measures!
The juice and zest, with extra water, was then put on to simmer, then boil, for two and a half hours, with the muslin tied up into bags and added, too. It was time to prepare the jars and lids – cleaning and sterilizing, so they would be ready for the preserve.
After adding the sugar, the liquid was boiled for an extra half-hour, after which I kept checking if it was ready by putting spoonfuls on a chilled saucer. Eventually I decided it was. I had to go to bed, so I was determined that it was ready! Luckily, when I spooned it into the jars (guess who forgot to buy a funnel?), it seemed the right consistency. It looked a little dark (or burnt?) but tasted pretty good, so even though it took me hours (and hours…), I felt a very warm feeling of satisfaction that I’d created something I like to eat.
Deputy ed Louise suggested I crochet a topper for the lid, in case I give a jar as a gift. However, I think I’m keeping it all for myself…