Thursday, 28 July 2011

Third time’s a charm

Marmalade you are a fickle, FICKLE mistress... On my third (THIRRRRDDDD!!!) attempt of the evening I was out of: patience; sugar; and down to my last orange and lemon.  ARRRRggghhhh... This time I was't going to get distracted!

Last October when I got the preserving-itch, I spent a frenzied evening making pickled pears, candied peel and orange and lemon jellies... It’s like I suddenly started preparing for hibernation... or maybe a nuclear winter?! 

With all the rain and cloud cover we’ve been getting over the past few months, it’s dark and feels like autumn already.  This has tricked my body clock into preserving mode even though it's only July... I’m getting that itch again to make jams, chutneys, pickles – anything that will keep. 

Oh, here's a bizarre little digression for you...  Thanks to all the rain, I've discovered my washing machine is obviously not rinsing out all of the detergent.  When I’ve been cycling I’ve started developing foaming knees... at least I’m assuming it’s the washing machine rather than a little known strand of “knee-rabies”...

Anyway, frothing knees aside, previously, I’d only made marmalade on mum and dad’s induction hob which seems to be a lot more forgiving than gas where it turned from far too runny to black and burnt in less time than it took to brush my teeth!  Literally! 

My current obsession is Rooibos tea so in an experimental frame of mind, I decided to try and add some Rooibos flavours.  Personally I prefer a sweeter marmalade rather than the traditional bitter flavour so that’s how this recipe turned out, I'll definately tinker around with it in the future (maybe with proper sugar next time!):

Make up the Rooibos tea (1 litre of boiling water and 4 teabags).  Cut the orange and lemon in half across their equators.  Squeeze the juices into the tea.  Place any pips and pith into a spice ball or muslin bag. 

Chop the rinds into strips. I cut each squeezed half-fruit into quarters and sliced these as thinly as desired. 
Pop everything into a large pan and leave to infuse overnight.  This ensures you get as much pectin from the seeds and pith as possible which makes the marmalade set.

The next day, boil the mixture for 2-3 hours until it has reduced, concentrated, and the fruit skin has softened.  At this stage leave to cool and then squeeze as much juice out of the seed/pith bag as possible and then discard.

Add the sugar, then slowly heat the marmalade until all of the sugar is dissolved.  Sadly, in the previous disastrous attempts I’d used pretty much all of the sugar in the house.  Therefore this time I ended up having to use icing sugar which (surprisingly) worked!

Bring it up to a rolling boil for a further 30-60 minutes until it reaches the correct consistency.  You can check this with either a sugar thermometer or by placing a plate in the freezer for a couple of minutes.  Once the plate is chilled, test by dropping some marmalade onto it.  If after a few seconds the marmalade wrinkles when you push your finger over it then it’s set.
Cool the mixture in the pan for ten minutes or so and then seal in sterilized jars.

There are several ways you can sterilize jars but I’ve found the easiest is to run them through a hot wash in the dishwasher, and use immediately.

Rooibos Marmalade: (makes 2 jars)
1 L Rooibos tea (made with four teabags)
1 lemon
1 orange
400g icing sugar

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