Lady Marmalade

One unexpected pleasure this year has been making marmalade. I say unexpected because my mother always led me to believe that making preserves was a needlessly time-consuming, laborious and messy business which resulted in enormous quantities of stuff that sat at the back of a cupboard unopened for years. And a daughter likes nothing more than proving her mother wrong.

I spent the first Saturday in February in a large, chilly kitchen with ten friends making a hundred pounds of Seville marmalade. I won’t even try to explain why – it’s a very long story – but suffice it to say that this mammoth potting session happens every winter, and all the marmalade produced is eaten over the course of the coming year.

I’d never made marmalade before – the extent of my exploits amounted to three small jars of rose-hip jelly made last October. I was so inspired by the day’s achievements, and so short of inspiration for a birthday present for Mr Yeast, who has vetoed all further presents of books, that I decided to make some myself. I made six and a half small jars of three-fruit marmalade: six jars wrapped up for Sir and the left-over half for me. He was delighted (he said).

Laborious? Hardly. I had to chop two oranges, a grapefruit and a lemon, and stir a pot from time to time. Messy? Perhaps a little sticky at the end. Time-consuming? Well, yes, you need to cook the fruit for quite a while, but you can do something else while it’s simmering away. You do need to be around to boil up the fruit and the sugar, but again, you could be doing the washing up at the same time, at least at the start.

Mum was terribly impressed, though I’m not quite sure why: all you do is wait for the sugar thermometer to reach ‘jam’ and then you pour the stuff into jars…

When you consider how much marmalade costs in the shops, to be able to make your own for under 50p a jar is a pretty good deal. My half jar is nearly finished – I will have to make a bigger batch next year.



~ by jobes on April 3, 2008.

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