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Annual Cleanse

     As soon as the Christmas decorations are down it's time to start thinking about Marmalade! 
In January Seville oranges come to Ireland for marmalade making, they are sour and bitter and need lots of sugar to make them palatable. 

     We have a long legged stool that was my mothers and her Mother in laws before that and it is known as the "Jam Stool"! Mum would sit on it during her day long marmalade sessions each January.
     The house was filled with a strong citrus scent and the kitchen steamed up.
It was a cleansing for the new year. 
    This version is not quite so steamy as the peel is softened in the oven with less water than is usual for marmalade. You still get the wonderful scent when it is boiled to reach setting point.
     As this is based on Mum's recipe I have used imperial measurements the metric amounts are below.


Liquid sunshine!

3lb Seville oranges
2 lemons
6lb sugar
3pts water

     Squeeze the oranges and lemons and save the seeds and membranes in a piece of muslin.

All ready to start softening.

     Finley chop, slice or mince the orange and lemons peels.
Place the sugar on the top to the Aga at the back, to warm up. I leave it in its bags.
     Put the peels, the muslin bag of pips and membranes and the water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Cover the pan with a lid and place on the floor of the simmering oven of the Aga or in a low oven about 110˚C, GM 1/4 and simmer until the peel is soft, 
“Like bread and milk between your fingers!” as Mum use to say. 
     It will take about 2-3 hrs. This year I got distracted and it spent about 4 hours in the simmering oven!

     Remove from the oven and remove the muslin bag. Using a saucer and the back of a slotted spoon squeeze as much of the liquid out of the bag as possible back into the pan. 
Place a ramekin into the fridge to chill.
Sugar added and ready to boil.

     Put the pan onto the simmering plate and add the sugar stirring until it has all dissolved then bring to the boil.
     Cook at a rolling boil until setting point is reached.*

A rolling boil!

     When it starts to boil put 12 clean jars and lids on a baking tray in the simmering oven for at least 20 minutes to sterilise. 
     To test for setting point place a teaspoonful of the marmalade on the cold ramekin in the fridge and leave for a few minutes. Push gently with your finger and its skin should wrinkle.
      Turn off the heat and leave the pan to stand for 10 minutes. 
      Pour into the hot jars, wipe any dribbles from the rims and cover the jars immediately to seal.
I use a heatproof jug for pouring the marmalade into the jars.  
     Leave to cool and label.

Precious hoard!

*How long it takes for setting point to be reached will vary a bit but for this amount at least 20 to 40 minutes. I tend to make quite stiff marmalade so it takes longer and the yield is lower. We don’t eat a lot so it needs to keep. I give most of our marmalade away to friends and family.

Metric measurements:  
1.4kg Seville oranges, 2 lemons, 1.8l water

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