Seville orange marmalade

Marmalade

I know this post comes a bit late for the Seville orange season but I’ve been somewhat preoccupied with house hunting recently, hence the delay in writing this. Still, you can make marmalade at any time of year using normal oranges or other citrus fruit, so there’s no reason to wait if you fancy a spot of marmaladary.

This was my first attempt at making marmalade, and from what I can tell, it didn’t turn out too badly. I’ve given some away to family members so I’ll be asking for their honest verdict.

I amalgamated several different recipes – as I often do – after initially being inspired by Nigel Slater’s recipe in The Kitchen Diaries II. The recipe given here is what I did this time round, but I’ll probably make some adjustments next time (which I’ve mentioned within the recipe).

Ingredients

(As usual, please excuse the mishmash of metric and imperial quantities)

  • A lemon
  • 1.3kg of Seville oranges
  • 1lb of sugar for every pint of resulting liquid (I used preserving sugar which has larger flakes, but granulated is cheaper and would be just as effective. Just make sure you don’t use jam sugar with the added pectin.)
  • Grated fresh ginger (optional)

Gently zest the lemon and juice it. Put the zest and juice in a bowl and put any pips onto a clean square of muslin. Chop what’s left of the lemon and add it to the muslin.  Cut the oranges in half and squeeze out the juice into the bowl, again adding any pips to the muslin. I can recommend using one of those little wooden pointy things to do your squeezing.

I juiced the oranges one by one into a smaller bowl before de-seeding and adding to the larger bowl, as this made the seeds easier to pick out. However, there were still a few seedy bits left in the finished product, so in future I would consider just juicing all the oranges into a big bowl and sieving the juice for a clearer result. The contents of the sieve could then be added to the muslin.

Scoop the rest of the flesh from each orange (I used a metal ice cream scoop to do this) and add to the square of muslin, leaving half shells of skin and pith. Trim off any dodgy bits from the oranges and add these to the muslin as well. The reason for doing this with the flesh and pips is to add additional pectin to the marmalade to help it set.

This is what you should end up with:

Marmalade

Tie up the muslin securely into a bag, and put it in the larger bowl of juice, along with the half orange ‘shells’. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave it in the fridge overnight.

The next day, add the juice, muslin bag and orange peel shells into a preserving pan or other large receptacle. Add 2.5 litres of water. This seemed like a lot of water to me, but it boils down and concentrates the flavour, so don’t panic.

Bring all this to the boil and allow it to simmer on a low heat for one and a half to two hours, or until the orange skins are nicely tender. Turn off the heat and allow to cool a bit. Once the orange skins are cool enough to handle, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon. Scrape out any excess pith (again, I used an ice cream scoop) into another clean square of muslin. Tie up the muslin and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible into the pan. This liquid is rich in pectin and will help further with the set.

Marmalade

Remove the muslin bag of flesh and pips and again, squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. I untied the muslins and scraped out the pulp before washing them ready for re-use, but you can always just throw them away if you can’t be bothered with all that.

Slice your orange peel into your choice of strips or chunks. Obviously, if you prefer shredless marmalade, you can just bin them. I sliced mine into very fine strips, but only used a few of the orange shells as while I like shredded marmalade, I don’t want too much of it in there.

Add the strips back to the pan and measure the amount of liquid you have. I had three pints. I was a bit confused about how much sugar to use as the recipes I’d read varied widely. Some calculated the amount of sugar to the original weight of the oranges, some just gave a specific amount and so on. I decided to stick with what I know and used the ratios I use for jelly – i.e. 1lb of sugar for every pint of liquid.

I divided my mixture into two batches of one and a half pints each, making one into normal marmalade (normalade) and adding a couple of heaped tablespoons of fresh peeled and grated ginger to the other. I did consider adding whisky and other spices, but thought this might be better suited to a regular orange marmalade (which I will probably try at some point).

So, once you’ve added your sugar to your juice/ peel mixture, bring it to the boil and basically boil the shit out of it until it reaches the setting point. I’ve always used a jam thermometer for this bit, but now find that my preserve-making instincts have developed sufficiently to allow me to judge fairly accurately when the setting point has been reached. As a result, I went ‘freestyle’ for my second batch (much like Luke Skywalker in the attack on the Death Star where he switches off his targeting computer). I still use the method of putting a plate in the freezer before I start and spooning some of the marmalade onto the cold plate to check for a set (easier said than done when you’re standing over a pot of what is essentially boiling syrup with a teaspoon, tentatively trying to spoon it out). If it wrinkles when you push your finger through it, it’s ready. I also find that another indicator of the setting point is when the mixture settles to a slower, bubbling boil rather than a frothing, rolling boil.

Marmalade

Once it’s ready, turn off the heat and leave it to sit for a bit to allow it to set slightly. This will prevent the strips of peel from sinking to the bottom of the jars. Decant into hot, sterilized jars and seal.

Makes about 6 jars of marmalade.

Marmalade

Marmalade

Yorkshire (part one): Pickersgill Manor Farm

After visiting relatives in Cheshire for a couple of days, Owen and I began the main part of our holiday at Pickersgill Manor Farm near Silsden, on the outskirts of the Yorkshire Dales. Pickersgill is a working farm which is home to sheep, pigs, cattle, chickens and a duck. It has two large, comfortable B&B rooms, and we stayed in the one on the ground floor. The room was immaculate with a large en suite bathroom and beautiful views across the Yorkshire countryside (when the weather allowed it!) The photograph above was taken from the door to our room.

The breakfasts here are (literally) award winning and are cooked by Lisa, who runs the B&B while her husband Marcus runs the farm. Lisa and Marcus were friendly and welcoming, and breakfast is eaten at the family table in the kitchen. We were also invited in for tea and cake when we first arrived, which I thought was nice. A full English breakfast at Pickersgill includes, among other things, eggs from the farm’s chickens, sausages made with pork from its pigs and black pudding which is handmade locally (and which was some of the best black pudding I’ve ever tasted). On one of the days we were there we had porridge, which was lovely and creamy. I’m not sure if it was made with full fat milk or whether there was some cream in there but it was a good start to the day, especially with some local honey dolloped into it. We also sampled one of Lisa’s tray suppers on the first night we stayed there (as we didn’t really feel like venturing out). This was brought to our room and was a hearty roast lamb dinner followed by apple pie and custard (proper custard, made from scratch) and a jug of elderflower drink.

We ate at a few local restaurants after asking Lisa for recommendations- these included The Fleece in Addingham, which was lovely and cosy with friendly service and good, reasonably priced food. We’d incidentally eaten lunch earlier that day at another pub called The Fleece which was in Skipton. The name was the only similarity between the two places- our experience in The Fleece in Skipton involved walking into a pub which was eerily quiet (apart from one country music song which suddenly played over the speakers before everything went quiet again) and ordering something which was apparently a cheese toastie, but which was almost unrecognisably flattened and cooked to a greasy crisp. This was served with an enormous portion of chips in an apparent attempt to satisfy your appetite once you’d given up on the salty inedible sandwich.

On our last night at the farm, we ate at the Purple Garlic Indian restaurant in nearby Silsden. Again, the service here was friendly and welcoming and the food was excellent and very reasonably priced. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do justice to the generous portions (including onion bhajis the size of your fist), mainly because feeling under the weather had taken away my appetite and I couldn’t really taste anything properly. It was a real shame as I love curry and I hate wasting food- I’d have asked for a doggy bag if circumstances had allowed!

During this first bit of our holiday, we also visited Betty’s Tea Rooms in Ilkley. We had tea and cake (well, Owen had coffee and cake as he doesn’t drink tea because he’s odd) and it was all very civilised. This was another of Lisa’s recommendations- she’d mentioned at breakfast (while icing a cake, as you do) that she’d trained with Betty’s previously and said that it was a nice place to go on a wet day (which it was).

Apologies for the lack of pictures of food- I’m not really one for taking pictures of my food when I’m out and about but have a look at the websites if you’re interested or are looking for somewhere to stay or eat in Yorkshire!

To make up for the lack of food pictures, below are some photographs we took while walking the Ingleton Waterfall Trail. We walked the trail when I was feeling particularly snuffly and full of a cold, and had therefore only managed a bowl of Rice Krispies for breakfast. I really should have forced myself to have a bowl of porridge because the 8km walk nearly finished me off! It was very enjoyable though and the scenery was beautiful. It was also the only day the weather was good enough to do it while we were in that part of Yorkshire so I’m glad I sucked it up and just got on with it.

Tree trunk covered with coins.

Thornton Force- the most well-known waterfall on the Ingleton trail, which apparently provided inspiration for the artist William Turner.

The hump to the right of the picture is Ingleborough- one of the Yorkshire Dales Three Peaks.

Bank Holiday blowout food

This weekend was the last Bank Holiday weekend before Christmas, and I managed to wangle a shift off from work to enable me to enjoy the whole three days off. In classic British Bank Holiday fashion, the weather forecast was for rain all weekend. “There goes my nice long bike ride in the sun,” I thought. However, yesterday was lovely and sunny and while we didn’t cycle the longer route I’d originally planned, we did have a nice cycle around the park in the sunshine (sitting down to enjoy a cheeky Calippo under a tree along the way). As I’d thought the weather was going to be rubbish all weekend, I was feeling a bit indulgent and planned a menu of tasty treats for our three days off together.

We started off on Saturday with a nice lay in (interrupted by needing to answer the door, bleary eyed and Russell Brand-haired, to the postman to take delivery of some packages from Amazon). We then enjoyed a pot of coffee and some pain au chocolat while still in our dressing gowns, watching re-runs of Time Team on the telly. Lovely. I won’t bore you with this level of detail about the rest of the weekend but it’s worth mentioning how much I appreciate not having to set an alarm and having a home filled with the smell of fresh coffee first thing in the morning.

I decided to make cream teas on Saturday, the original plan being to cycle to the park and enjoy them in the sun. As it was pissing down with rain, we enjoyed them in the comfort of our own home instead. The scone recipe I used was this one (don’t do what I did and absent-mindedly use plain flour instead of self-raising- I had to chuck out the first batch and start again when I realised they weren’t rising in the oven). We had our usual debate about whether to put the jam on first or the clotted cream- I always put my cream on first with the strawberry jam on top because I think it’s more aesthetically pleasing (which is the Devon way of doing it). However, Owen spent a large portion of his childhood and teens in Cornwall, and he and his mum will argue until they’re blue in the face that the Cornish way (jam first, cream on top) is the only correct way to serve a cream tea.

Cream teas (the Devon way). I got a bit carried away and decided to put them on my extra chintzy bone china plates.

Yesterday’s breakfast was pancakes with bacon and maple syrup- one of my favourite weekend breakfasts when I can be bothered to make it. I use the following ingredients for the two of us, adjusted from this Jamie Oliver recipe.

  • 2 eggs
  • 80g plain flour
  • 95ml milk
  • Half a teaspoon of baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

Breakfast pancakes with bacon and maple syrup.

Owen did a roast for dinner last night. I’m not very good at roasts, but I do always contribute by making the stuffing balls (chopped onion, grated apple, sage and breadcrumbs bound with an egg) and Yorkshire puds. A roast is one of those meals, like a full English breakfast, which always tastes that much better when someone else cooks it for you. Owen happens to be very good at making a roast dinner (his roast potatoes in particular are excellent), which works out well for me…

Owen’s yummy roast potatoes.

I made tomato soup for lunch today using this Felicity Cloake recipe (which is my standard ‘go to’ tomato soup recipe- the balsamic vinegar lifts the flavours perfectly). I quite often make soup for lunch on a weekend, especially if the weather’s a bit miserable- I find it quite comforting with a nice bit of crusty bread for dippage.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of these before they went in the oven- I just thought they looked pretty…

Tomato soup

One of the aforementioned Amazon deliveries was Lorraine Pascale’s latest book, which provided the inspiration for tonight’s dinner- prawn linguine with chorizo and cabernet tomato sauce (the recipe wasn’t on her usual BBC page so the link is to the Mail Online- sorry about that). The only adjustments I made were to use one tin of tomatoes instead of two and enough linguine for two people instead of four. There are loads of recipes in this book that I want to try, so you’ll no doubt be hearing more about them soon…

Lorraine Pascale’s prawn linguine with chorizo and cabernet tomato sauce

So, we’re back to work tomorrow. After all this culinary naughtiness (I’ve not even mentioned the Tesco’s jumbo chocolate croissants and copious amounts of beer and wine we washed everything down with until now), I think I’ll need to get on the exercise bike and cook a few healthy meals this week to restore the balance…