We are in the middle of the coldest time of the year. This cold weather ripens the citrus. Up until we got the frosts, the citrus were all green, but now the chill has sweetened them and made them turn yellow, or orange, or tangerine!
We planted the citrus grove only 4 years ago and it has grown well. Nearly all the trees are thriving. It’s just he native finger-lime that is finding the going hard. We are quite a bit out of it’s natural growing zone, so it’s to be expected.
With loads of fruit ripening all at once, eating three pieces of fruit each day each isn’t going to make a dint on the harvest. I decide that it’s time to make marmalade. I make a few batches of pure Seville orange marmalade, but I must say that I’ve made better. It’s all a bit dull. Good enough OK, but could be better. The purists say that only Seville oranges can be made into true marmalade, but I disagree.
I’ve learnt over the years that I prefer the taste of a mixed fruit marmalade. Something that has Seville orange as a base, but also has a good quantity of other citrus fruits like, blood grapefruit, tangelo, lemon, lime and Italian Chinotto.
Our variety of Seville orange has loads of pips, and this is very good! Not so good if it were an navel orange for eating, it would be a pain. But as a Seville orange that we specifically grow for the purpose of making marmalade, then pips are a bonus.
Citrus pips, especially those of the Seville orange, contain massive amounts of pectin, and they are large and there are loads of them. Pectin is what sets the marmalade into a gel, along with the large amount of sugar that is recommended.
I prefer to use very little sugar, as too much sugar is not at all good for you. One of the ways that Janine and I control our sugar levels, is to limit our carbs intake. I love marmalade, so I decided long ago to make my marmalade not too sweet and more fruity and bitter, with a lot of peel. In fact a lot of varied peels from all sorts of different citrus.
I have developed a recipe that limits the sugar down to very low levels and yet still ‘gels’ OK as a condiment. I do this by using the pectin from the pips, following this recipe;
1.2 kg of mixed whole citrus fruit
Juice the fruit to get 465g of juice
Clean the white pith off the peel to get 550g of sliced peel
add 300g of sugar and the pectin gel water off the boiled and simmered pips
Cut the citrus in half and squeeze all the juice out of the fruit. Save all the seeds. Seville fruit has loads of seeds. Ours does anyway, but I’m told that citrus fruit varies in the quantity of seeds. It all depends on which other citrus tree flower pollinates the fruit.
I put the pips in a small sauce pan with a minimum of water to just cover them and simmered to extract the pectin. This can be going on while you are slicing the peel. Push the resulting gel through a small sieve into the jam making pan. Add more water and boil again for a few minutes. Again, press all the gel through a sieve and then discard the seeds.
Save the juice and weigh it. It should bet about 455 to 465g. If there is too much, then pour some off into your mouth, or if there is too little, squeeze another piece of fruit to make up the total amount of juice, but don’t use the peel. Both options have happened to me. it all depends on the quality of the fruit. Fruit that has been picked for some time get juicier. Fresh picked fruit is a little dryer.
Cut the empty squeezed half citrus skins into 1/4s and scrape all the pith out of them then discard the pith. Save the clean peel and cut it into very fine, thin, slices. The peel should add up to about 550 to 560g of peel, add it into the bread maker machine and set to ‘jam’ setting. Add 300g of sugar and the 460 g of juice.
Turn on the machine and go about your other very important business for over an hour and come back to perfect marmalade. This week I unpacked a bisque firing and repacked another with this useful time saved.
Heat a few glass jars and lids to sterilise them and bottle the marmalade while hot. It can keep for years, but never gets a chance to.
While the citrus rush is on and there are plenty of fruit being eaten and juiced. I take the opportunity to use the discarded skins to clean all the copper pans thoroughly and get them all shiny once more. A discarded, squeezed 1/2 citrus peel with a dash of salt sprinkled on cuts the developing verdigris oxide layer and gets copper pans looking new again.