Last weekend I had another first for me, I made my first batch of Marmalade. I have not dabbled in the world of preserving yet so this was my time to break the ice, I was surprised by how relatively easy it was. Time consuming but not to difficult, it's just all about the timing.
The weekend before I had been at the market and found a stall that had spray-free oranges for $1.50NZ for a 1 kg bag, bargain! I had also visited the op-shop and had my stack of jam jars. I had spent the week researching recipes, had a couple I liked the sound of and then on Saturday I felt ready to start. I used a few instructions and processes from the different recipes so can't give a direct link to the recipe I used. Like everything I do, it's a bit from here and a bit from there.
So here is my first Marmalade making tutorial. I thought I would do a step by step photo guide as I must say for a first time maker, trying to understand what some people were talking about in their recipes was hard, unless they had pictures to show you. So I hope this helps you :)
My ingredients were:
1 kg of Oranges and 2 lemons plus the juice of another lemon
1.7 litres of Water plus an extra cup during the first boiling process
4 1/3 cups of White Sugar
Wash the Oranges and Lemons
Next peel the oranges and lemons (I did this with a vege knife), making sure you try to only take the skin and not the white part. Cut the skin into tiny strips. Keep them quite thin and about 2 cm long. This took me a while. Also pop 3 or 4 saucers or plates into the freezer to cool for testing for setting point at the end.
Have a strainer set up with some cheesecloth/muslin or other material that will drain well. Once you have peeled and juiced the fruit put the white outer, pips and all the pith/membranes into the cloth. This will go in with the water and skins and is the natural source of pectin it needs to set.
Juice all the oranges and lemons
These are the cut up pieces of rind, you can see I kept them quite small.
All done with the prep.
Take the edges of your cloth containing the orange and lemon outers etc and tie it at the top. I used some cotton for this. It's going into the pot so you don't want it to be anything plastic.
Add the rind, 1.7 litres of water, the juice from the oranges and lemons and the bag. Boil this for about 2 - 2 1/2 hours until the rind is soft. I stirred it a few times, I also felt it had lost a bit of water boiling so I threw in another cup of water after about an hour and the juice of another lemon.
At the end of this time, you want to turn your oven onto 110degC for sterilising your jars. Prepare a small pot of water to boil the lids in for about 5 mins.
Once you have boiled the rind soft, take out the bag and let it cool a while. Tip your water and rind into a bowl and measure it all by cups back into the pot. I had 5 cups of rind/water mix so I used 4 1/3 cups of sugar which was bang on with the flavour. This is using the ratio of 7/8ths of a cup (in between 3/4 and a whole cup) of sugar for every whole cup of liquid. So if you have 4 cups of liquid its 3 1/2cups of sugar. Taste along the way, if you want it a bit sweeter add a little more sugar. Once the sugar is in the pot give it a good stir. At this point I took mine off the heat for the next part.
Take your bag and into either a bowl or straight into your pot you need to squeeze and milk the living daylights out of the bag to extract all the pectin. It's an opaque liquid and the best way I found in the end was to give it a good squeeze all over, then take little sections and squeeze them, then 'milk' your fingers all over the bag and wipe off all the pectin on the outside of the bag. This is MESSY! but fun :) It took me by surprise, I thought it would all come out easily but not quite. I think in total I ended up with roughly 2 tbsp of pectin (this will help set the marmalade so is a crucial ingredient).
Boil your lids for no less than 5 mins. I just turned mine off and left them sitting in the hot water until I needed them.
Put your jars and tongs in the oven at 110degC for at least 10 minutes. Again I turned the oven off and just left them in there until bottling time. You need the bottles and lids hot for this.
Once that is all done, return the pot to a reasonably high heat and if you have a thermometer attach it now. I started mine off boiling to softly and spent ages at the stove with it. It was the night of the grand sleepover with an extra 3 additions to the house it wasn't quite the time I wanted to be chained to the stove, so pick your timing a little more wisely. You want to continually stir it so it doesn't stick or burn. You want to bring this up to setting temperature which is roughly 104degC. Or test after it has been boiling a while on one of your freezing saucers. Using a teaspoon put some onto the saucer. If it has reached setting point it won't spread out on the plate to much and will hold its shape. When it cools a little and you push your finger into it you should see a ripple on the skin (sorry I had children arriving at this point so didn't manage to get any photos of this. I did find some on the net of what it should look like if you can't quite get what I mean). If it isn't quite there leave it boiling and keep stirring for another 5 - 10 mins then test again. Even though I was using a thermometer I still tested on the saucers...and I was getting to taste it along the way ;)
Once you have your marmalade at setting point, take it off the heat. Leave to cool for 5 or so mins, but don't leave it to long. Have a rack or a dish that is heat tolerant to put your hot jars on. Take your tongs out as soon as you've taken the mix off the heat to cool enough to handle. When you are ready, using your tongs take a jar out of the oven and using a spoon, spoon the marmalade into the jar. For two of them I left a little gap at the top, for one I didn't. Haven't seen any difference to either yet? Fill the jar and then pick up a lid shake all the moisture off and immediately screw onto the jar. Do this up tight. Proceed like this until your jars are full. As you can see I filled 3 of them. Leave them to cool down. As they cool this encourages the vacuum process for sealing and the little pop buttons on the top will indent and you shouldn't be able to pop them anymore.
To be honest I was so anxious about this part I kept pushing at them and eventually they popped down and stayed down, so it was with great excitement I jumped up and down screaming that my jars had sealed :) If they completely cool and don't seal then perhaps the jars weren't hot enough. I have been told you can microwave them without the lid on for 20 secs or so to heat them back up and try again, but don't quote me on that one, I haven't done it. If it doesn't form its seal properly just put the jar in the fridge and use straight away. It should last a good month in the fridge. The sealed jars will give you a good year in storage, so just date them and pop them away in the pantry or larder for safe keeping. Keep them out of the light as this will degrade the marmalade and it won't keep well.
If you have made this recipe and you have gotten your jars to this point CONGRATULATIONS you've made some marmalade :)
The next morning DH and I enjoyed freshly made English Muffins, toasted with some of the marmalade and a hot coffee - ahh it was delish! I was very much smelling the marmalade that morning! (oh and every morning since, I am loving it! Since it has cooled it has gone quite thick which I love).