Marmalade is a funny thing. I suppose it’s orange jam but it’s so different to jam. It’s such a grown up taste and I’m not sure that I’m there yet with it on toast! I do, however, love marmalade with sausages and bacon, it’s delicious! It’s like a fruity brown sauce!
Making marmalade always seems like a bit of a strain to be honest, it’s not like it’s friend, jam, who sets nicely and easily and is quite a quick process from start to finish. Marmalade is a more variable character, setting can seem elusive and at midnight, when you’re still stirring and watching the boil, it may seem like it will never happen.
I read the other day that the setting point for marmalade is a short-lived moment and you have to grasp it or it never comes back, which could explain the crying on the kitchen counter in the early hours of the morning when it still hasn’t set. Perhaps I’d missed that short-lived moment.
My mother, though, doesn’t have the same fear of marmalade although I have known her to be with the larks still stirring the boiling mass of pith and peel. And with this in mind, she asked me to make some lemon and lime marmalade.
I used the recipe from Marguerite Patten’s The Basic Basics Jams, Preserves and Chutneys Handbook. It’s quite a simple, straightforward recipe; some you come across seem to require lots of different steps of straining, boiling and simmering but this does seem to take the simplest approach. Also the smell while it’s cooking is absolutely delicious, that citrussy zing is brilliant and clears out the cobwebs on a grey day.
I have included here the same link to the sterilising of jars and setting point and things like that because it’s all here: https://thegirlwiththewoodenspoon.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/strawberry-fields-forever/. It’s definitely worth reading if you haven’t previously made jam or marmalade or jellies as the set and the jars are so important if you want your jams to set and keep well.
Lemon and Lime Marmalade
makes about 3 kg
- 500g lemons
- 500g limes
- 4 pts of water (or 2.4l as my imperial/metric is all over the place here!)
- 5lb of preserving sugar (which is 2.25kg)
You will also need a muslin square or an old but clean dishcloth and a jam pan and some jam jars and quite probably a wooden spoon
- Halve the limes and lemons and pop in a bowl in the microwave (if you have one, if you don’t you can miss this bit) for about a minute, the warming them up releases the juices and makes them so much easier to squeeze. You also get a lot more juice for your money this way!
- Remove the pips and place to one side.
- Squeeze all of the halves into a separate measuring jug and place to one side.
- The really boring bit begins now, take each of your halves and split into two again. Then remove as much of the pith and fibrous membranes as possible without damaging the peel. Place the fibrous and pithy bits in the same bowl as your pips. Then slice the peel into thin strips to be suspended in your marmalade. This does take quite a lot of time, your fingers will turn into wrinkled specimens of what they once were and you’ll wonder why you started but on the plus side, it smells nice and i’m sure it’s the equivalent of a great detox on your hands! Possibly a little drying. I also developed a sort of tennis elbow but in my thumb. Ouch.
- Take your old dishcloth/muslin and if using dishcloth as I did, cut yourself a square with 2 sealed edges, add all of the pith and pips and bits of flesh to this and then draw the corners up and tie into a little bag. (see pictures below if bemused by this instruction)
- Soak all of this peel, and you will have quite a lot, and your bag of pith, pip and flesh in the water in a large pan or jam pan for as long as you can. Preferably overnight.
- When these are done soaking, simmer the pan over a low heat until the pith is tender. This takes longer than you might expect it to and lemon peel is often quite tough.
- When the lemon peel is soft, remove your bag of pith and pips and add the sugar and your jug of lemon and lime juice from before.
- Stir over a low heat untul the sugar is melted and then turn up the heat and boil rapidly until your marmalade reaches its setting point.
- Allow to cool for about 2o minutes and stir the peel to ensure it’s well distributed.
- Pour into your hot jars and seal while still hot.
I don’t know if you need anything more complex than a slice of crusty toast and salty butter with this but I really do recommend trying it with bacon and sausages, it might not change your life but it may change breakfast!