…the beautiful snow that has shrouded our home for what seems like an eternity has finally melted away, the only memories being some photos and quick little watercolours…
…I’m finding it somewhat hard being so far away from London at the moment. I miss my dear siblings and my lovely friends and somehow the sheep residing in the orchard are just not cutting the new-friend mustard. A lyric from a song today mentioning London Town actually managed to bring tears to my eyes.
In an attempt to quash any feelings of loneliness I have leapt into a marmalade making frenzy. I have never made Marmalade before, however due to the short season of the Seville oranges I feel that I must attempt it whilst I am able to. I also can’t forgo the opportunity to label some kilner jars with the words Lard’s Marmalard. I might make a marmalade with a gingery twist – something that will pack a small punch in the early hours of a grey February morning when we all need a little more sunshine in our lives. There is absolutely no time for silly blues or feeling isolated down my remote little track…after all I have two naughty dogs now for company – something I’m slightly regretting. Puppy training is proving a lot harder than I remember first time around. Little Jemima is slowly but surely making headway and I must be thankful for that.
Before the marmalade making adventures begin I have decided to take the dogs out before it gets too dark. A short and blustery walk from my home has revealed a little slice of heaven. I have stumbled across a magically secret wood which has been impassable on previous attempts from late summer nettles and brambles. With the path ahead of me clear, I am greeted by beautiful pockets of sheltered snowdrops, dancing in the weak sunshine next to a little stream. The sharp pang I have been feeling for London has momentarily dulled.
On my return, with dusk fast approaching, and clutching a handful of beautiful snowdrops, I am ready to tackle the oranges.
It turns out that Seville oranges are extremely bitter, despite their intoxicatingly sweet perfume, and it has given ample explanation as to the vast amounts of sugar needed to make it even remotely edible.
They are rather crinkly and uninspiring fruit and I have to say I have not been feeling overly confident about the end product..
I have followed a recipe by Hugh FW’s friend Pam Corben taken from the River Cottage Handbook No.2 Preserves.
1kg Seville Oranges
2kg Demerera Sugar
75ml lemon juice
2.5 litres of water
Firstly, cutting the fruit in half, I extracted the juice, put aside the pips (these contain the vital pectin needed for setting) and then cut the skin, flesh, pith et al into fine slices. When I asked my husband whether he thought the slices were thin enough he declared simply “No!” It was too late, I was on my last orange, and having had every intention of chopping my fruit finely – a rather hard skill, especially if you have weather-chapped, sting inducing hands like me – thick-cut marmalade it is.
Overly excited by the prospect of using my new thermometer for the first time, the deep ochre syrup boiled away happily, until I pounced when the temperature reached 104 degrees C.
Pouring the molten amber into kilners and labelling them has given me a ridiculous amount of pleasure.
I must say, not being one to blow my own trumpet, this is really rather delicious and I can’t wait for breakfast! In fact, a late evening snack of a spoonful of still-warm marmalade stirred into thick Greek yoghurt and sprinkled with cinnamon is absurdly good. I don’t even mind the peel. It is, dare I say it, the nicest marmalard EVER!