Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Marmalade Making

When winter is more than half way through and you reach for the last jar of marmalade on a nearly empty shelf in the larder, you know exactly what you will be doing next weekend. At least I do.

Life without marmalade is unthinkable, even if no-one else in the house eats it. A piece of lightly singed toast, butter melting into it and spread with chunky, tangy marmalade is one of the perks of a dull winter morning. The sunshine lingers in the citrus peel, I’m convinced of it.

So the last three Saturdays have been marmalade making days. A last minute panic at the end of the orange season, while we can still buy bags of oranges cheaply and limes are still sometimes available. Eek... August already and usually I start making in June, where did the year go?  One batch isn’t going to last me out the year, two batches might just, three batches allow for judicious gifts to fellow marmalade lovers. If I do a fourth I might even have enough to sell at the market.

I use my mother’s three fruit marmalade recipe and combine eating oranges (we can’t get Seville oranges here), grapefruit and lemons, usually adding limes or naartjies too. So far this year each batch has had its own distinct character. There’s the batch where I had some rather old, hard limes that I squeezed the juice of but didn’t add the peel; the one where I had no limes at all and put in a naartjie (tangerine) instead for an added fragrant note, forgot about the pot on the stove and just made it in time to prevent it from a repeat of last year’s burnt pot disaster; than then the last one where I finally did have fresh limes and got exactly my favourite balance of sharpness and sweetness.

I frequently forget to label them before putting them up on the shelf, so later in the year it’s a lucky dip when I grab a jar and never know which one I’m going to get. Not quite the way to go for serious product development, but as I’m the main customer I forgive myself in advance!

I’ve finally got the perfect tool for cutting up citrus fruit. At the Food Bloggers Indaba we were all generously given this ultra sharp serrated Wusthof knife by Yuppiechef who sponsored the event. It has made slicing and shredding almost effortless, whereas my hand used to ache afterwards – I now realise the difference between a truly sharp kitchen knife and a dull old one. I’m just wondering how long it will stay sharp after slicing mountains of acidic fruit for several batches of marmalade... and is there any way of sharpening a serrated knife like this? Anyone know?

It seems like every year has to have its marmalade post, just as it has to have its daisy post. Here is the one from 2010 where the marmalade recipe competes with the world cup and the blasts of vuvuzelas for attention. And this 2011 post has sun-drenched pictures of the finished jars of marmalade.

Are you a marmalade devotee or do you loathe the stuff?


  1. I love it but can't eat it , because of the sugar . Doesn't stop me inhaling Husband's , though !

  2. I've made lots of jam, chutneys, etc., but never marmalade. I'm determined to do so this year!

  3. I do love marmalade, in a variety of citrus flavours! That knife is something else - particularly good for slicing citrus and tomatoes, I found :) Love the colour in that final shot.


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