Posted by: Rachael | February 28, 2008

Marma-muse

During the week we accidentally ended up in the jams and peanut butter aisle at the supermarket. M5 asked yearningly, “Why don’t we buy marmalade any more Mama?” He had obviously forgotten the jars and jars and jars of jam we bottled over summer. No, he knew aobut them, but they just weren’t marmalade. I promised we’d make marmalade as soon as enough lemons ripened on the tree.
Fast forward not even twenty-four hours.
Friends come to visit bearing not only cookies-and-cream-ice-cream, but a GINORMOUS bag of grapefruit. Big enough for everyone to eat grapefruit and make pickle as per comments above and still have 14 grapefruit left over.
14 seemed a good round number to play with. So I grated them up as well as 14 oranges and seven lemons and seven granny smith apples. I know you don’t put apples in marmalade, but I’m not you. I decided to give it a go. I mean to say, I put apples in all my summer fruit jams, because it made the bright colours stretch further, so why not in marmalade? Incidentally, have you heard how hard it is to get jam to set? You haven’t seen my jam! Some of it is more like toffee!!!!!! No kidding. I suspect the apples are a prime factor. Anyway, I decided there was nothing to lose, and everything to gain in the setting department, by throwing in some apples to the *sunshine in a jar*

That is one big pot. Once it all started cooking I had to add more water so that it was all bubbling to the Very Top of the Pot. That is one big lot of pulpy fruit. I wondered if I would run out of jars. But I ran out of sugar first. We won’t need to buy marmalade for a Very Long Time. I just hope it sets.

There are two types of jars sitting on the bench, occasionally going POP as the lids suck down (that is reason enough to make marmalade – it is such a satisfying POP!) Type one have 1:2 written on a wee sticker on them. Type two have 1:1 1/2 on their stickers.
The marmalade recipe said 1 cup of sugar to 1 cup of pulp. One whole cup of sugar? You have GOT to be joking! The first batch I tried one cup of sugar to two cups of fruit. The second batch was well on its way to being identical when I realised time was marching on, and there was still sugar in the bag so I turned it into one cup of sugar to one and a half cups of fruit. That saved me putting the bag away.
And I’ll sleep better tonight knowing that at least one batch has increased chances of setting, being just a wee bit closer to The Recipe.
Actually, I’ll sleep perfectly well tonight, regardless. I’m dead tired! I hope to dream of each one of the children who ran inside this afternoon exclaiming about the rapturous aromas wafting out to the driveway where they were playing. And that, my friends, is the best reason to make marmalade. But don’t forget the knowing what goes into your product, the fact that it’s virtually organic (surely anything picked up from under a neighbour’s tree won’t have been sprayed – at least it wouldn’t have if it were in my garden, I don’t pay that much attention to my trees), the fact that it hasn’t used up lots of resources travelling up and down the country, yes, I’ve said this all so many times before I could say it in my sleep. What? Oh yes I am saying it in my sleep. It’s so boring I put myself to sleep.

Nighty-night.

Post-script: Some of the marmalade didn’t set. Some did. But all is not lost with runny marmalade. It makes wonderful bread-n-butter pudding. It spices up rice pudding (though we all prefer the plainer variety on that front). It pours on toast.

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