One of life's simple pleasures is surely making preserves. To take fresh ingredients, add salt or sugar and capture the resulting mix in a jar or bottle for future use, engenders pleasing feelings of comfort and thrift. At this time of year it is the transformation of Seville oranges into marmalade that occupies me. The smell of zest and juice is intoxicating, whilst the glorious clarity of jelly with suspended shreds of orange rind, become a visual delight.
Then when you break the seal months later, the perfume hits you and takes you back to that gloomy winter day when you pottered in your kitchen and felt no guilt whatsoever that you ought to be doing something else.
This is my recipe for Three Fruit Marmalade. It is one of the easiest recipes for marmalade I possess; it looks good and it tastes good.
Ingredients: 4 lemons, 2 juicy sweet oranges, 2 grapefruit (total weight 3 lbs), 6 pints of water, 2 lbs sugar.
1 Wash the lemons and oranges, halve them and squeeze out the juice and pips. Slice the peel thinly.
2 Wash the grapefruit, pare of the rind thickly with a knife or vegetable peeler and slice it thinly. Remove any thick white pith and membrane from the fruit and chop the flesh roughly.
3 Put the fruit juice and flesh, sliced peel and water in a preserving pan. Tie up the pith, membrane and pips in a piece of muslin and add to the pan. Simmer gently for about one to one and a half hours, or until the peel is really soft and the liquid is reduced by about half. Remove the muslin bag and squeeze any juice back into the saucepan.
4 Add the sugar, stirring until it has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly until setting point in reached, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Leave the marmalade to cool for about 15 minutes, then put into warmed jars and cover in the usual way.
Seville Orange Marmalade
Ingredients: 3 lbs Seville oranges, washed, Juice of 2 lemons, 6 pints of water, 6 lbs sugar
1 Halve the oranges and squeeze out the juice. Collect the pips and pulp in a piece of muslin and tie into a bag.
2 Slice the peel thinly with a sharp knife or vegetable slicer. Put the fruit juices and water in a preserving pan and tie the bag to the handle.
3 Add the peel and simmer for about two hours, until the peel is soft and the liquid reduced by about half.
4 Remove the muslin bag, squeezing it well between two plates to extract all the juice (this improves the pectin content).
5 Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 15 minutes.
6 Test setting point, then leave to cool for 15 minutes. Stir, pot and cover in the usual way.
Things you could do in January:
- Build a bird box
- Go on a beer safari
- Ice-skate in a woodland
- Explore some well-known "gardens" near where you live
- Ensure you have a bright and welcoming winter front doorstep
My garden in January never ceases to amaze me with early spring flowers. So far we have snowdrops beginning to poke through the ground. When they are out they will look like this
We also have aconites that grow closely with the snowdrops
and already there are lots of Hazel catkins that dance in the wind along our driveway.
Weather here in the UK has been atrocious. A series of gales accompanied by horizontal rainfall continue to rip their way across the country, coming in off the Atlantic. So far we have been spared the worst of the flooding. Others haven't been so lucky.
All we can do is sit it out.
They're a tough lot those Canadians!
Finally a bit more humour to end with. I couldn't help but laugh at this one
And as for my computer playing up constantly!
Why didn't I think of that? And finally...
Don't you just love cats?!