Two weeks ago my friend Sue posted a picture of her batch of just made marmalade, which reminded me if that I wanted to make some this year, I needed to get a move on. I didn’t make much jam this year, in fact the only preserving I did last year were the pots of blackberry jam I made in the summer and that proved to be such a hit (and such a limited amount) we scoffed it all!
Marmalade seems to be a love hate thing, either you love it and it’s bitter sweet taste on your toast or you can’t bear it and think it is the devil’s jam. I’m firmly on the love side and even more so since I put on my big girls pants and started making it.
Marmalade is considered to be a bit of a faff. First you have to find seville oranges, then juice them, then shred the peel, then cook the peel, then finally you have to make and jar the marmalade. Some recipes suggest that before you cook the peel, you soak it overnight. So it’s all a bit of a palaver, so much so that MaMade and Lakeland do all the work for you. I made marmalade like that for years, it was better than the shop bought stuff but it didn’t feel like I was making marmalade it felt like I was cheating. This is not to knock it at all, in the summer time when seville oranges aren’t available and marmalade must be had it’s a life saver and if you were experimenting with favours and/or just couldn’t do all that chopping, they are godsends.
I felt that I hadn’t made marmalade properly and that I should at least do it once. One of the true joys of cooking is learning about what and how you like to cook and eat and also in learning what it is important for you to make from basic principles and what you are happy to buy from the shop. These things vary from person to person and change depending on what stage of life you are at but there is a rightness about knowing these things for yourself. There is also something lovely about the finiteness (is that a word?) of cooking and especially preserving that I love. The blackberry jam that I made last year is gone but the memory of Ma and I going out to pick them and then getting jam from that is still with us. Last year, I finished a rhubarb and ginger jam, that honestly was getting on a bit but it was the last jam I had that Tina had made and I will confess to hanging on to it because Tina had made it and I’ll never eat a jam she made again. There’s also the changeable nature of it, one year it will behave, one year it won’t, over the weekend Jen made her marmalade noted that this year the shred didn’t float all the way to the top like it had last. Or the year you do everything right and the stuff just won’t set for no earthly reason you can find. It’s happened, there was that plum jam that time….
All of which to say, I don’t make marmalade every year but when I do, I make it from seville oranges and shred the peel and simmer the peel for hours and for me it’s worth it. It’s a process I enjoy and find relaxing. In fact, I started this on Saturday at about 4pm, spend about an hour with the cutting and juicing, set the peel to simmer while I made dinner and finished it at about 9pm. So it takes a while but only about an hour and half of that was hands on time. I used Felicity Cloake’s perfect recipe.
I’m spending a lot of 2016, talking about money and food, so it seems remiss not to talk about the cost of this. The cost of the oranges didn’t come out of this week’s food budget which I’m ok with because it’s not all for me but the total cost of the the ingredients was£4.78. That made roughly 11 8oz jars (there was a bit over but I’m not going to worry too much about that) which works out as 43p a jar, marmalade that you buy generally comes in 16oz jars, so mine would work out at 96p a jar. Which is more expensive than the Sainsburys basics and own brand ranges that come in at 30p and 75p respectively. However, it’s cheaper than any of the premium marmalade and it tastes better so for me it’s worth it.
It’s also really good on toast…