Tag Archives: preserves

Marmalade

Marmalade

I have been making marmalade. Every year I mean too, but most years it is a case of the seville orange season being over before I remember it is upon us. Some years, sevilles just aren’t easily available here. However, on Saturday I nipped into a supermarket and spotted some sevilles on display on my way out. Sometimes, things work out.

I have written about marmalade before but I did things slightly different this time. I sliced the lemons in half and popped them in the pot with the oranges to boil until tender. The flesh and pips of the lemons and the oranges were wrapped in muslin and popped in the pot to give up their pectin. The skin of the oranges and the lemons were both finely chopped (Mr OC prefers it this way, I like big thick shreds, but sometimes you have to please someone else).  If you look closely at the photo you can see the mottled appearance of the lemon skin. It looks slightly different to the orange skin. It seemed daft to pop the lemon in the bin when it could go into the marmalade. I also added three pieces of stem ginger (chopped finely) into the pot, but actually I haven’t added this in the ingredient list as I can’t detect the ginger in the finished marmalade. I think next time I will use root ginger in the muslin, and perhaps add some chopped stem ginger at the end of the boiling of the marmalade.

I like my marmalade to be quite soft, almost runny, rather than thick set. I boiled this one on a rolling boil to 106°c and tested it on a cold saucer. When it was showing the very slightest of wrinkle I fetched it off the heat and let it cool. It is perfect for me, but feel free to boil longer if you want a thicker set.

Seville oranges freeze well, so get plenty in, so that you can make some more when you get through this batch.

Makes about 8 jars
1 kg seville oranges
2 lemons cut in half
1½ litres of water
2 kg granulated or caster sugar

You will need a large pan, a piece of muslin or a clean tea towel, a sugar thermometer or a couple of saucers placed in the fridge to do the wrinkle test and about 8 sterilised jars.

To sterilise your jars wash them well, rinse with hot water and place in a low oven (100°c) for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven carefully (they will be very hot) without touching the inside of the jar or lid.

Place your oranges and cut lemons into a large pan and cover with the water. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 2 hours until the oranges are tender. I cook mine in the simmering oven of the Aga. Take off the heat and leave to cool.

Once cool enough to handle, cut the oranges in half and scoop out the flesh and pips into a bowl lined with the muslin. Wrap the flesh up well in the muslin and pour the collected juices into the orange water and then place the muslin wrapped flesh into the water as well.  Chop the oranges and lemons to your desired thickness and place it all in the orange water. Add the sugar.

Place over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and bring the marmalade to a rolling boil. If you have a thermometer place it in the pan and wait until the marmalade reaches 106°c. Test it on a cold saucer if you don’t have a thermometer. To do this pour a teaspoonful of the marmalade onto the cold saucer. Leave to cool and then push your fingertip through it. It should wrinkle slightly. Once it reaches this stage turn off the heat and leave the marmalade to cool a little. This will help with the distribution of the skin through the marmalade. I left mine covered with a lid until completely cold and then I could test the set. If it isn’t how you like it just bring it back to boil until it wrinkles more on a cold saucer. Decant carefully into the jars and seal well.

 

Crabapple and sloe jelly

Whilst I was picking my rosehips for the syrup I found a couple of heavily loaded sloe trees. I made my way back there a few days later and picked a kilo or two and popped them in the freezer. We are lucky enough to have a crabapple tree nearby too so I picked a couple of kilo of those too. The crabapples have sat in my kitchen looking at me accusingly for a couple of weeks, so yesterday I made myself get round to giving them a good swill and popped them in the preserving pan with some of the sloes. I cooked them slowly in just enough water to cover them until the apples were pulpy. I gave them a good mash and strained it overnight through a jelly bag. Today, I boiled them with sugar until the jelly wrinkled on a cold saucer. The finished jelly will be great with roast dinners and cold meats and stirred into gravies. I might even have it on toast like I do with my damson and rosehip jelly. This one though is a little sharper and has that sherbetty finish to it that you would expect from a jelly made with fruits that are sour before cooking.

Crabapples and sloes

The colours at the different stages are stunning. Starting with a rose pink and turning to a deep purple. It is worth making this jelly just for these colours.

Crabapple and sloe juice

The strained juice

Crabapple and sloe jelly boiling

The boiling stage

You can put in as many crabapples and sloes that you have, cover them with just enough water to almost cover and then strain the juice through a fine sieve of jelly bag. Measure out the juice and to every 600ml add 450g of granulated sugar. Here is what I did:

2kg crabapples
1kg sloes
water
1 kg granulated sugar

Method
Rinse the crabapples and the sloes well. Place in a large pan and cover with just enough water to almost cover. Cook over a gentle heat until the apples are pulpy. Mash with a potato masher and pour the purée into a jelly bag, a clean tea cloth (boil in a pan of water before use) or through a very fine sieve. Leave to strain overnight.

Measure the juice and for every 600ml add 450g of granulated sugar. I had 1,300 ml of juice so added 1 kg of sugar. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar dissolves and then turn up the heat and boil the syrupy mixture until a teaspoonful of it wrinkles when placed onto a cold saucer and pushed with your finger. Remove any scum that rises to the surface. Pour the hot mixture into warm sterilised jars and seal.

You might also like to make crabapple jelly without the sloes or crabapple and rosehip jelly.

Damson and rosehip jelly

damsons and rosehips

I think damsons might be my favourite fruit. Not straight off the tree; that way they have a bitter edge which makes you purse your lips. But when they are cooked with sugar they are rich, perfumed and glorious. One of the most lovely things about them is their purplish bloom which imprints itself on your fingers when you pick it from the tree. I picked these beauties on Sunday and the tree stands next to a rose that due to my lazy gardening has suckers that have naturalised. My lazy gardening of course has its benefits, in this case the beautiful rosehips that are hanging heavy. I couldn’t resist picking some to add to my damsons.

I am not sure that the rosehips add anything in terms of taste to this jelly. The damsons overwhelm their delicate taste, but maybe some of their goodness will have hung in there through the boiling process. I am glad I added them for the photo above alone. Look at those colours! Autumn on a plate.

Damson and rosehip jelly

Makes about 3 jars

1kg damsons
300g rosehips
1 litre water
Granulated sugar

Method
Wash the rosehips well and remove the old flowers and check for insects. Chop these finely (wearing gloves if you do this by hand as the hairy seeds are an irritant, I use my food processor). Add to a large pan. Wash the damsons and add to the pan with 1 litre of water. Bring to the boil and simmer away until the fruit is soft. I mashed it with my potato masher. Strain the fruit through a jelly bag or large square of muslin tied at the top and hang over a bowl. The weight of the fruit and damson stones will mean that the majority of the juice will have strained through in 1 hour, but you can leave it overnight. Don’t be tempted to squeeze the bag though as this will make the jelly cloudy.

Pop a couple of saucers into the fridge to get cold.

Measure the juice and to every 600ml of juice add 450g of sugar. Return it all to a clean large pan and bring slowly to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved increase the heat to bring it to a rolling boil. Check to see if it’s set by pouring a small amount onto a cold saucer. When it’s cooled push your finger through it and if it wrinkles it’s ready. Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal.

Use it like jam on your toast or as an accompaniment to meat, cheese or anything else that you fancy.

If you like this, then you might also like my pickled damsons, stewed damsons, damson ice cream, damson vodka or damson jam.

Crabapple jelly

I was reading Cathy’s post about the beauty of design in nature and found it very inspiring.  I immediately felt the need to take a walk to experience some of this beauty just outside my door.  The perfect excuse for this was provided by the heavily laden crab apple in the hedge.  It has been a few years since I have seen such drooping branches.  The crab apple is a beautiful fruit, a miniature apple made all the more beautiful by its scars and blemishes. I filled a large bucket with carefully picked beauties and wandered back admiring the beginning of autumn and the hues of red, brown and gold peeking between the green.

A quick rinse of my 2½ kilos and they were destined for the preserving pan.

How a green bitter fruit can turn into an amber jelly is one of the magical acts of cookery. When you cook those apples into a green sludge you do wonder how the jelly will be transformed into something that you may want to eat alongside your roast lamb. But, honestly, you will enjoy every sweet appley mouthful and it feels even better that all you paid for was the heat and the sugar.

As many crabapples as you want to use ( I picked 2½ kilos)
Enough water to just cover them in the pan
Granulated sugar  450g for every 600ml of strained juice
If you wanted a little spice then feel free to add a cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, coriander seed or  a star anise into the pot

Method

Rinse the crab apples and place whole into a preserving pan (if you have time and patience you could quarter then to reduce the cooking time a little).  Add enough water to barely cover them (I needed 3 litres for my 2½ kilo). Bring to the boil and simmer until the fruit has turned to a sludgy mush. You can give them a stir to help them break up a bit.

Allow to cool a little and then pour into a jelly bag and leave to strain overnight into a large bowl. Do not squeeze the bag or the jelly will be cloudy.

Measure the strained juice and pour back into the preserving pan.  Bring this slowly back to the boil.  measure out 450g sugar for every 600ml of juice you have and then add this to the boiling juice.  Stir until the sugar dissolves and then leave the juice boiling rapidly until setting point is achieved.  You can tell setting point by placing a few saucers into the fridge when you start to boil the fruit and then testing the jelly by taking a spoonful of the mixture and pouring onto the cold saucer.  Leave to cool and then push your finger through.  If it wrinkles it has reached setting point.  Carefully pour the hot jelly into hot sterile jars and seal immediately.  Leave to cool before labelling. My 2½ kilos made 7 jars.

To sterilise your jars and lids, wash well in warm soapy water and rinse with clean water.  Place in a roasting pan, lids as well and place in a low oven for 10 minutes (the simmering oven of the Aga is ideal). They should still be hot when you pour the mixture into them.

 

Pickled peaches

My mum and dad have a peach tree in their garden and because we live in Shropshire and not Spain they are much smaller than the peaches that you buy.  You have to pick them before the grey squirrels find them and then leave them to ripen in the fruit bowl.  This year there has been plenty on the tree and I commandeered them to try out this way of preserving them for the winter months.

They were fiddly little blighters to peel, but they are very lovely with their pink blushing cheeks.
 Once made you need to leave them for a month before eating to give the flavours a chance to mellow and pickle away. So I am looking forward to enjoying these with a slice of ham in October and I will definitely  be saving some for Christmas.

Makes 4-5 jars

1.5kg peaches
500ml white wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)
600g granulated sugar
25g root ginger (I used about 1 teaspoon from my jar of Lazy Ginger)
8 whole cloves
cinnamon stick
½ tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp dried chilli flakes

Method

Plunge the peaches into a large pan of boiling water for one minute, drain and then cover with cold water.  Peel the peaches and place in a bowl (I did this in the morning and then pickled the peaches in the afternoon and was surprised at how much blush coloured juice collected in the bowl.  Make sure you pour these juices into the vinegar with the peaches).

Pour the vinegar into a preserving pan, add the sugar, the ginger and the spices and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring to the boil, add the peaches and any juice collected in the bowl and turn the heat down to simmer.  Simmer until the peaches are tender, which depending on the ripeness of the peaches will take anywhere from 3-8 minutes.  Spoon the peaches into warm, sterile jars.  Return the syrup to the heat and bring to a boil and allow to boil for 5 minutes.  Carefully pour the syrup over the peaches to the top of the jars and seal with vinegar proof lids.  Leave for one month before trying.

Aga Marmalade

I adore marmalade.  I really enjoy the bitterness of the orange peel in contrast with the sweet jam.  In fact, I just had to get up to make some toast so that I could have some marmalade because writing about it made my mouth water.  Well, between you and me, I made two pieces and spread the other one with lemon curd. I think it is a well established fact that I am greedy, and now there are crumbs on the laptop.

This is the time of year for making marmalade as it needs to be made from Seville oranges and these are only available from markets in January and early February. The Seville orange is incredibly bitter and not at all one that you want to eat freshly peeled. But when mixed with a ton of sugar they make one of the best things that can be spread on toast. The lady who runs my local market tells me every year of the tale of the woman who was naughtily mixing her bag of oranges between the normal and the Seville.  The Seville is usually a bit dearer and this lady thought she was going to get herself a good deal. The market owner thought it appropriate that she let her get on with it and have fun at home playing orange roulette.

Seville oranges freeze very well, so buy them when you see them and put them in the freezer for making marmalade throughout the year.  In fact, I used frozen for this recipe as I mentioned to my mum that I was off to get some Sevilles and she still had some in her freezer from last year so I used those up. Use them from frozen.

I used Mary Berry’s recipe from The Aga Book. In this recipe she recommends that you simmer fresh fruit for 2 hours and frozen fruit overnight.  This makes me feel better as I missed that instruction and was planning to simmer them for two hours but fell asleep watching telly and went straight to bed having forgotten all about my oranges. You see, things always work out in the end.

This recipe made loads, about 10 jars, so unless you have friends and family who are marmalade fiends too you may want to halve the recipe. You will find another marmalade recipe of mine here.

1½kg (3lb) Seville oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
3 kg (6lb) sugar
2 litres (4 pints) water

Method

Put the whole oranges in the Aga preserving pan and squeeze in the lemon juice. Cover with the water and bring to the boil.  Once boiling, place the pan carefully in the simmering oven and leave to simmer until the oranges are tender (2 hours or so for fresh fruit, overnight for frozen). Remove the oranges and leave to cool. Once cool enough to handle cut them in half and scoop out all the pulp and pips and place these back into the water.  Bring to the boil and boil for 6 minutes.  Strain this liquid into a large bowl through a sieve and, using a spoon, force the pulp through the sieve.  It is this pulp which contains the pectin that will set the marmalade. Pour the liquid back into the preserving pan.

Cut the peel of the oranges as thinly or as thickly as you like your shreds to be and add these to the liquid, along with the sugar.  Bring the whole lot up to a rolling boil and boil until setting point is reached.  You can test for this with a sugar thermometer (105°c) or have a cold saucer ready and when a little is allowed to cool on this saucer it should wrinkle when pushed with your finger.

Allow the marmalade to cool a little (this will help with the distribution of peel through the jar rather than it all sitting at the top) and then pour into sterilised jars.

To sterilise your jars, wash in warm soapy water and rinse with hot water, then place on a baking tray in the simmering oven for twenty minutes.

May 2014: I have been requested to link to Aga Living as this is a recipe from Mary Berry’s Aga Book.

Medlar jelly

The medlars have bletted.

I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t been brave enough to try one raw.  You are supposed to spoon out the fruit and it should taste sweet and cinnamony, but look at them:

I couldn’t do it.

But I could put them in a pot with some cut lemons and boil them up for an hour or so, strain the liquid through muslin, add sugar and boil again to make jelly.  Now I looked at several recipes, including the one at Celtnet and Nigel Slater’s recipe in last Sunday’s Observer magazine and then of course adapted to make my own.

Now both of the above recipes state that you boil the juice and sugar for around 6 minutes.  I boiled mine for a lot longer before it finally looked like it might set.  At the first boiling of about 10 minutes the liquid was still very liquid the next day so I poured back into the pan and boiled again, probably for another 15 minutes or so before it finally showed signs of wrinkling when a little is spooned onto a cold saucer and pushed with a finger.  Now the reasons for this might be that I didn’t add enough unbletted medlars and so didn’t have enough pectin.  But then again Celtnet use all bletted medlars.  It might also have been my fear of burning things and so not having it at a rapid enough boil.  Maybe a gentle boil just doesn’t do the trick.  So I would recommend using about 400g of unbletted medlars (as Nigel recommends) and really boiling the liquid and not being a wimp like me.

The jelly is nice but I am not sure it is really worth the effort of waiting for weeks for your medlars to blet.  I think quince jelly is just as good and not quite as much faff.  If I had a medlar tree I would make them again, or if I receive a boxful again then I will make it, but I wouldn’t go to the effort of seeking the fruit out particularly. As the friend who gave me the medlars said to me, there is probably a reason why the medlar tree is not so popular as other fruit trees. Having said that I have enjoyed the experiment and I am going to attempt to make medlar fudge and that may be a different kettle of fish.

Strained medlar juice

2kg bletted medlars
3 lemons, sliced in half
2 litres of water
granulated sugar, for every 500ml of strained juice add 375g sugar

Method
Quarter the medlars and place into a large pan, add the lemons.  Pour over 2 litres of water and place on a high heat and bring to the boil.  Partially cover with a lid and allow to simmer for about 1 hour until the fruit is really soft.  The time this will take will depend on how bletted your medlars are.  It may take longer.

Pour the fruit and liquid into a jelly bag, or muslin square or a couple of clean tea towels and tie up and suspend from a hook or a tap ( I used the kitchen cupboard handle and a wooden spoon to secure it) until the juice has run out of the bag.  Don’t be tempted to squeeze the bag or the finished jelly will be cloudy.  Measure the amount of juice you have and pour back into the large pan and add 375g sugar for every 500ml of liquid.  My 2kg of fruit yielded 1.8 litres of juice so I added 1.35kg of sugar.  Put onto a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then boil rapidly for at least 4 minutes.  Place a saucer in the fridge or under a very cold running tap and then spoon a little of the liquid onto the saucer, allow to cool slightly and then push it with a finger.  It will wrinkle slightly when it is ready.

Pour into sterile jars, mine filled 7 400g jars, seal and allow to cool.

Serve with roast meats, cold meats and cheese or even spread on toast for a breakfast treat.