Bittersweet symphony

Last year, I had such an avalanche of citrus fruit I decided to try my hand at marmalade for the first time. I’ve made so many jams and jellies, but this was new territory.

I had hundreds of mostly Meyer lemons, a good crop of Washington naval oranges and a decent number of limes. I tried a variety of recipes and mixes of fruit, with varying degrees of success.

For my second batch of lime marmalade, I tried an SBS / River Cottage Australia recipe for lime and ginger. It didn’t have a lot of love from readers, with just 3.3 out of 5 stars, but something about it appealed. There are no comments attached to the recipe, so I’m not sure why it scored so poorly.

Yellow-skinned limes sitting in water.

The result was brilliant. A straightforward process, a great set and really appealing flavour. And so this year I launched in to full marmalade production again. This time I decided to stick with this recipe throughout, and see what happened when I varied the fruit.

More lime and ginger to start, and then into orange – sweet orange, and then loads of sweet orange and mandarin, as the tree is laden with sweet fruit. The sweet orange and mandarin marmalade is my new favourite. I have used the plain orange version (which I made with a sizeable proportion of brown sugar instead of all white) instead of a layer of apricot conserve in German apple cake, and that worked really well.

I find the use of a temperature to determine when it’s ready very useful.

So here it is.

Bright and colourful orange and mandarin marmalade.

Citrus marmalade

Ingredients

• 1kg well-washed citrus fruit (I will go here with oranges and mandarins, but any mix will do).
• 1.5 litres water
• 1 cup sugar for each cup of fruit/water
• I tbs finely grated ginger, If doing a lime and ginger

Method

1) Cut the end off the orange, then cut in half end to end, and then slice thinly into half-moons and place fruit and any juice into a large saucepan. Discard the ends of each piece of fruit. Do the same to all your fruit. I usually do double or even triple this amount without any problem.

2) Pour the water over the fruit and leave to sit overnight.

3) The next day, bring to the boil and cook for at least 1 hour, until the rind is very soft.

4) Add I cup sugar to each cup of fruit/liquid. Add the ginger at this stage, if using.

5) Bring to boil and cook hard until temp is 105C / 221F. Let it get solidly to the temp. If you want to double check, do a jelly set test: put a small amount on a saucer in the freezer, leave about a minute, then prod with a finger. If it wrinkles a bit ahead of your finger when you push, it’s good to go.

6) Skim off any scum.

7) Bottle into hot, sterilised jars and seal lids tight.

This one is all sweet oranges, but is darker because 2/3 of the sugar used is soft brown sugar. It’s thicker and chunkier overall, and delicious in a quite different way.

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