Part of my winter ritual is the annual making of the marmalade using the trusty wood stove. My method is pretty simple and has resulted in prize winning marmalades. First, cut up some fruit. We grow oranges, lemons, cumquart, grapefruit and of course there’s Harry the hybrid.
For home use, I just chop roughly as the resulting thick peel suits my taste. For a competition, I would slice thinly. Three or Four fruit will make a decent batch. I also juice a couple of oranges to add to about 5 or 6 cups of water to toss in the pot. All seeds are separated and put into some muslin secured with a rubber band.
This goes onto the hottest part of the woodstove until it boils, then moved to a simmering spot. The pot stays covered. The mix is simmered for 2 – 3 hours to ensure that the resulting marmalde doesn’t develop mould over time.
After cooking, I remove the mix and measure it. The amount of sugar required is one cup less than the amount of mix. In other words, if I have 6 cups of mix, I will want 5 cups of sugar. The seeds are discarded, the pot is cleaned, the mix returned and put back on the stove. Once it boils, the sugar is added.
Now comes the critical part. The mix will boil and froth for a while. As it starts to settle down, you need to test for the setting point. If you take it off the heat too soon, you will have runny marmalade. Too late and you get toffee.
To test, just remove a couple about half a teaspoon of liquid and drop it onto a cool plate. Wait a few seconds and tip the plate into a vertical position. If the liquid runs down the plate, then you aren’t there yet. Setting point is when the liquid forms a skin and might slide a bit, but doesn’t run.
Let the mix cool slightly before bottling. A well cooked marmalade put into sterile jars will last a very long time.