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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Seville Orange Marmalade

Mammy's Marvellous Marmalade

It's that time of year again, when Seville Oranges are with us,
albeit a very short time.

This year I was determined to make my own marmalade from scratch.
I was given a maslin jam pan for my birthday back in September,
by my wonderful friends at work.
(They know me so well.)

It has been sitting, feeling unloved, since then in the cupboard,
waiting patiently for me to get me act together and rediscover my baking mojo.

Thank goodness the New Year seems to have been the
kick start I needed,
and marmalade making seemed to call me back into the land of the kitchen living.

I did a bit of research on-line for recipes and tips,
and decided to plump for one from the BBC Good Food website.
Whats not to trust ?
It's the BBC after all.

What a disaster.
I followed the recipe exactly,
and let's just say  it will not be one I use again.
The cooking times and instructions were less than adequate,
and the result was a pan full of thick, dark brown, bitter gloop.

After seeking some expert advice from the amazing Vivien Lloyd 
I was armed with the correct advice and determined not to be beaten.

Vivien has a wonderful web site packed full of advice, recipes,
and video tutorials.
Her latest book is most definitely on my wish list.

I emailed Vivien and she very kindly took the time to 
help me with the problems I had experienced.
She gave me excellent advice on 
where I went wrong,
and how to correct these problems.

This weekend I cleared some time for myself,
and was all set to master this marmalade making alchemy, 
if it was the last thing I did.

Suffice to say I had a wonderful weekend,
and managed to produce not one,
but two batches of this mesmerising golden nectar.

 Vivien recommended to try and use 
Ave Maria Seville Oranges if you can get hold of them.
They are available from Waitrose 
but regular Seville's will produce a good quality marmalade 
if that is all you can find.

Vivien's video on how Seville oranges are 
collected is very interesting,
 and may make you think twice about not bothering 
to wash your fruit thoroughly before you start.

you will need :*

675g Seville Oranges
1 large unwaxed lemon
1.4 kg granulated sugar
1.75 litres water

*Reproduced with kind permission of Vivien Lloyd

1. Begin by washing the fruit thoroughly in warm water.
Squeeze the juice from the oranges and lemon and set aside.
Keep the pips from the fruit as these will be needed later.

2. Scrape out the membranes from the orange shells.
I found an ice cream scoop quite good for this but a metal spoon will do just a well.

3. Put the membranes into a food processor and chop briefly before putting into the muslin square,
along with the pips from squeezing the juices.
Tie with a long piece of string and set aside.

4. Cut the orange halves into three petal shapes.
It will make cutting a little easier.
Finely cut these petals into shreds.
This is where you decide if you are a thin or thick cut kind of gal.
I made a batch of each in the end it was so much fun.

5. Put the shredded peel, juices, and the water into a large pan,
together with the muslin pouch and leave overnight to soak.

6. The next day, leaving the bag in the pan, bring the liquid to a slow boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer.
Cover the pan and leave for approximately two hours,
until the peel is beautifully soft and the liquid is quite translucent.

7. Remove the pouch and set aside to cool.
I left mine for at least an hour so that it was comfortable enough to handle without burning my hands.

Now for the messy (and quite fun) bit.
I found popping on a pair of rubber gloves quite helpful here.
Squeeze and manipulate the bag to remove as much of the pectin and juice as you can.
This gloopy stuff is crucial to help your marmalade to set, so it is quite important to remove as much from the pouch as you can.
If you don't want to wait for the bag to cool,
you can press the bag into a sieve using the back
of a metal spoon.

Once you feel like there is nothing left to squeeze out, discard the contents and rinse the muslin, ready to re-use.

8. Weigh out your sugar and place this into a heat proof bowl.
Place the bowl into a pre heated oven at approximately 140c until it has gentled warmed through.
Whilst you are waiting for the sugar to warm,
you can wash and rinse your jars ready to sterilise in the oven.
Now remove the sugar and add to your pan.

Pop the jars into the warm oven.

9. Stir the contents of the jam pan over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Do not start to boil until all the sugar has melted.

Pop a saucer into this freezer around about now.

10. Now to get down to the exciting part.
Gently increase the heat of the pan to bring the contents to a rolling boil.

You know you achieved this when the top of the marmalade resembles foaming cola.
This took me about ten minutes to achieve but this may vary depending on the size of your pan, volume of contents and the type of hob you are using.
Some find it can only takes five minutes
This highlights the importance of
keeping a close eye on this process.

I guess this is where experience and patience comes into play.

If you have a sugar thermometer it will be around the 105c mark.

11. You can give the occasional stir just to be sure the contents of the pan do not catch and start to burn.

This is where I went terribly wrong with my first attempt.
(Important lesson learnt).

Wait approximately ten minutes, keeping the pan at a rolling boil and then test to see if you have a good set.

12. Remove your pan from the heat and taking your saucer from the freezer, place a few drops of the liquid onto the saucer.
Give it a few seconds and gentle push the marmalade with your finger.

There should be little wrinkle to the surface.
If not, pop the pan back onto the heat and wait for the rolling boil to appear again.

Give it another five minutes and repeat the process.

I found checking after five minutes worked for me as I was paranoid about it burning again.

13. Once you are satisfied you have reached a successful setting point,
remove from the heat and leave to stand
for a 5-10 minutes to settle.
Remove any scum that may have formed at this point, with a slotted spoon.

14. Remove the jam jars from the oven, being careful a they will be hot.
Alow them to cool  little.
They need to be warm but not hot.

Ladle the marmalade into the warm jars.
A jam funnel is very helpful at this stage.
Fill the jars right to the brim to acheive a good
airtight seal when you put the tops on.
Scoop off any air bubbles before sealing too.
I put a small wax disc of paper on mine which
are available from many shops.

Seal the jar and allow to cool before labelling.
Stored in a cool, dark place the marmalade will keep for up to one year,
 and up to a month in the fridge once opened.

These little jars of golden heaven are such lovely gifts to give to people 
or indeed just to enjoy yourself at home.

If you can, make a few batches to stock up on.
You need never be without a little 'thank you' gift for someone special.

Our first jar is almost gone already.
Miss B enjoyed it so much she named it
Mammy's Marvellous Marmalade
hence the title of this post.
I think I'll stick with it actually.

It may seem like a bit of a cliche,
but it really does taste so much better when you've made it yourself.

Until next time, enjoy your day.


Monday, 13 October 2014

Crochet Baby Blanket

Baby Bell's Blankie

 A dear friend from work recently gave birth to her first baby -
a gorgeous little boy, called Harrison.
He is an adorable little chap, and I really wanted to give him something very special,
to keep him snug and warm,
and also that he could keep as a childhood keepsake
(or perhaps more for Mummy to keep).

I thought of all the bits and bobs I still have from my own childhood,
 and in deed the things I have kept from my own two little ones.
The thing that instantly sprang to mind was a blanket  to keep Harrison warm,
but that I could make myself and mean it was
handmade with love,
 for someone special.

I flicked through all of my crochet books
(which I must admit there were a few more than I realised)
 for some inspiration,
and came across a simple but lovely pattern by
The block is called Square Target.

The yarn I chose was Peter Pan Sweetheart double knit and was very easy to work with.
The colours worked really well together
(more by luck than experience).
I used pale blue, dark blue, dove grey and white for contrast.

This wool has now been discontinued,
which is a real shame,
because it really did feel so soft when the blanket was completed.

I am still getting the hang of putting colours together,
but my colour palate is broadening with each project I make.
Playing with colour can be so much fun.

The size worked out just right for a pram blanket.
I worked with 8 squares x 6 squares.

The border was worked using a row of simple treble stitches in white and alternate rows of a chain of five single stitches in each of the colours.
I found the tutorial from Lucy at Attic 24 very helpful with this.

The final edging was from a website I stumbled across and I must confess I cannot remember the name of it,
but it was very easy to work,
 and effective with softening the edge of the blanket
and giving a delicate fluted effect.
The finished item was carefully wrapped,
with little Miffy for company,
and given to my friend at her baby shower.
Now the autumnal weather has settled in I hope little Harrison is cosy and warm with his blankie,
and Miffy is enjoying lots of cuddles too.

Unitl next time, enjoy your day.