There's something almost magical about some things that you make yourself. Especially when they're items that you usually buy from the supermarket. This is me and marmalade - I love it, as you can probably tell from here, but I've never made it myself.
So when a lovely blogger friend recently invited me to take part in a cooking club, with this month's challenge being to make something from scratch that you would normally buy in a jar/carton/bottle/packet, I leapt at the chance. The universe was giving me a little nudge to get over my weird fear about preserving and canning and just do it.
There is a wealth of information out there about preserving, canning, bottling, pickling and it can be a little overwhelming to say the least. I think part of the secret of not talking yourself out of doing it is to start small. Remember when I made pickles a while back? - well I made so much of the stuff and was worried that I hadn't properly sterilised the jars so I ended up having to throw some of it out - something I hate doing. Since then I've found a few good tips, such as here and here on sterilising jars.
So now onto the fun part, making the marmalade.
Adapted from A Year in a Bottle by Sally Wise
Makes 750g, approximately (enough for three jars)
4-5 large oranges
1/2 a lemon
3 1/2 cups water
Start by chopping the oranges finely. Place them in a large pot, add the water and bring to the boil. Cook for about 25 minutes or until the fruit is soft.
Now add the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue to boil on high for 25 minutes. Don't do as I did and try to make an omelette for dinner at the same time and forget to stir your marmalade - burning will ensue.
Allow the marmalade to stand for 10 minutes before pouring into warm sterilised jars. Seal immediately.
This recipe produced a fairly chunky, thick marmalade, which is exactly how I like it but if you prefer yours more runny, I'd suggest adding more water at the start and reducing the heat a little in your second boil, towards the end of the 25 minutes.
I opened up one jar this morning to go on my toast, one jar went into the cupboard and the other was gifted to a friend at work. I have a feeling I'm going to be finding ever more inventive ways to feature marmalade in my cooking over the coming months. I'd like to think my marmalade loving Gran would be proud of my efforts.
You can find out what the other wonderful members of the cooking club came up with for the challenge below:
Lucent Imagery http://www.lucentimagery.com/
Quiet Paws http://quietpaws.com/
From River’s Edge http://fromriversedge.net/