Growing up, I thought my mum was one of the best cooks ever. It wasn’t until I grew up and became a little more aware of my surroundings that I realized my dad was actually the driving force behind all our gourmet meals and, while my mum really enjoyed eating said meals and could certainly hold her own in the kitchen, she did find cooking to be mostly, well- a chore.
When I boomeranged back home in my twenties and moved in with my mum, our arrangement was simple- she buys the groceries, I do all the cooking. It was win-win since I was dirt poor and unemployed at the time and she was working long hours as a business development maven and couldn’t be bothered to cook proper food (wine and popcorn is a balanced meal, right? No, mum). I got all the ingredients I could dream of, she came home to elaborate meals every night.
There are a few areas in the kitchen, however, where my mum is unbeatable. A few specialties in her repertoire that will cause even me to back out of the kitchen and watch in awe…:
Portuguese bread. We’ll make this on the blog when I finally master it myself. It’s a very simple recipe and all about technique. Hand kneading. Aggressive hand kneading. It’s going to sound like you’re defending your kitchen from a hoard of ninja with all the whap-whap-whap.
Soup. Any soup and all soups. My mother is the queen of soup. There is never a recipe for her soups, they will never be replicated. These soups often involve a mass purge of whatever she can find in the fridge. It doesn’t seem like it’s a huge skill, but it’s one I have yet to master. I don’t know if it’s the seasoning, knowing just what to put in and when… I can’t put a bunch of random stuff in a pot and make it as delicious as she can, and I can’t figure out why that’s the case. It’s a soup mystery.
Marmalade. My mum has been making this marmalade for over 30 years now and it is something of a cult classic among our friends and family. Even people who don’t like marmalade are fans of her marmalade.
Not too sweet, not too bitter, nice and chunky.
Perfect on it’s own, of course, but it’s also one of my favourite pantry staples and I incorporate it into other recipes all the time (like these Orange Sesame Chicken Wings).
Making any jam is a bit of an ordeal, but if you get a friend to help you it’s surprising how fast the whole process can be. The only really ‘work’ in this recipe is dividing up the oranges into peel, juice, pith and seed and then bottling it at the end. The rest is all waiting and simmering.
If you’re new to canning, don’t fear- I have included a more detailed description of the canning process in my Heavenly Jam recipe (another great pantry staple which I use in everything from doughnuts to vinaigrettes to marinades).
I include some detailed instructions below but I figured for something like this, pictures would be ideal… Below you’ll see the oranges, quartered, and two bowls- your discard bowl up at the top for the membranes, and the pith and seed bowl at the bottom.
Don’t worry if you get juice in the pith and seed bowl, it’ll all ending up in the same pot anyway. The pith and seeds contain the most pectin, which will thicken your marmelade, but are also quite bitter. This is why we tie them up in a jelly bag or cheesecloth, so they can add all their thickening goodness without adding extra bitterness or having to fish seeds out of your marmalade.
Below is how you will scrape the thick pith from the Seville oranges. Using a spoon, scrape the soft white pith away from the orange peel. Don’t worry if you break the peel on your first couple tries, your peel strips will be shorter but no less delicious.
Seville oranges are pretty key in this recipe and unfortunately, they can’t really be substituted. North American Sevilles are grown in Arizona and usually come in to season between January and March. If you’re in Europe, you’re in luck and you can use Spanish Seville oranges.
Perfect for a slice of toast and a cup of tea.
|Seville Orange Marmalade|| |
- 12 Seville oranges
- 900 g sugar
- 3 litres water
- 1 very large stainless steel jam pot
- 1 jelly bag (or cheesecloth and kitchen twine)
- Sterilized mason jars and lids
- 1 large funnel
- 1 long handle wooden spoon
- Day 1: Quarter the 12 oranges. Set aside three medium bowls. Using your fingers, remove the flesh of the oranges. Squeeze the juice into Bowl 1, put the orange seeds into Bowl 2, and discard the membranes in Bowl 3. Do this with all the oranges.
- You will be left with a bunch of quartered orange peels. Seville oranges have a very thick peel, most of which is a soft white "pith." This pith contains pectin, but can be quite bitter. Take a spoon and scrape the bulk of the white pith away from the orange peels. Add the scraped off pith to Bowl 2. Your orange peels should be quite thin now, slice these into thin strips and place in a large stainless steel jam pot. Add the contents of Bowl 1 (juice) into the jam pot. Put the contents of Bowl 2 (seeds and pith) into a jelly bag or tied tightly into some fine cheesecloth. Discard the contents of Bowl 3 (membranes).
- Once the contents of Bowl 2 are tightly tied up, add the bag to the jam pot as well and cover with water. (How much you say? Well, make sure the rind and jelly bag are completely covered- roughly 3-4 litres of water. If necessary, weigh down the rinds and jelly bag with a plate. Set aside for 24 hours.
- Day 2 (the hard part is over!): Bring the soaked rinds and jelly bag contents to a boil. Keep at a gentle boil for 1 hour until the peel is soft. This is where you really see if you added enough water- if it looks too dry you can add a bit more water at this point. After everything has boiled for an hour, remove the jelly bag and discard the contents. Let the rinds and liquid rest for another 24 hours.
- Day 3 (okay, I guess we still have a little work to do...): Sterilize your jars and lids. 12 oranges will probably produce about 1.5 to 2 litres of marmalade. Put on the stove and bring to a boil. Add sugar in proportions of 0.9:1. For example, .9 litres sugar to each 1 litre of liquid / rind. Boil until setting point has been reached. This may take about 45 minutes to an hour depending on how diluted your orange liquid is - you can test with a jelly thermometer or just watch the bubbles. They start out as a very thick layer of light coloured bubbles. As you approach the setting point, the bubble layer collapses. This is your setting point and it happens quite quickly so watch it closely.
- Bottle marmalade in your sterilized jars using a wide mouth funnel. Once the jars have cooled, it you think the jelly is too runny (i.e. you didn’t quite make the setting point)- no worries!- wait 24 hours and then reheat the jelly. It’s quite amazing how it can gel up in that time. If you do have to reheat, be very careful that you don’t overdo it because your marmalade will be very tough and gummy. I would recommend that if you have to reheat it, do just that - reheat but don’t bring to a boil. Then, bottle again.