When my husband’s father died we bought a tree to commemorate his life. Enrique wanted a fruit tree because his father had always provided for them and so we bought a kumquat tree and as the little fruits have ripened I have put them in the freezer, waiting until I had enough to make marmalade. The tree is called Dad and yes, we do talk to him. He is very happy in Monterrey, by the way, and produced a record amount of kumquats this year.
The other day when I was walking around my neighbourhood in Monterrey, I bumped my head on a branch that was hanging over a neighbour’s fence. Looking up I saw that I had actually bashed my head on a grapefruit. A GRAPEFRUIT. Of course I picked it and took it home. Then I went back to pick more and was caught by the owner’s grandson! Thankfully he was delighted to share and informed me that the fruit was actually a LEMON.
Looking around the neighbourhood more carefully, I noticed there was citrus fruit hanging over walls and fences everywhere. There are bitter orange trees growing in parks and lemon trees growing randomly in the street! I am used to picking wild plums, garlic, brambles, apples, pears, mushrooms, and cherries on walks in the UK, but I am not used to picking wild citrus fruit (or stealing it from neighbours’ trees). A friend informed me she has 3 citrus trees in her garden (grapefruit, orange, and mandarin) and I could hop over and help myself. Several kilos of fruit later it’s time to make marmalade.
Marmalade is a bit fiddly, there is no getting around that. However, home made marmalade is so much better than most store bought stuff that it is worth setting some time aside and having a go. My friend Sue has the best recipe for marmalade because it asks you to freeze the fruit first. This means you can steal fruit gradually and wait until you have enough or buy enough fruit in one go and freeze it until you are ready. I always seem to have plenty of jars and nothing to put in them or plenty of fruit and no jars. The point is that you don’t have to be 100% ready to make this marmalade. Put the fruit in the freezer and wait until you are.
Freeze the citrus fruit of choice (or a mixture)
Defrost it in a big saucepan and put in enough water to nearly cover the fruit.
Bring to the boil and them simmer for 2 hours with the lid off, topping up with water as necessary so the fruit does not stick to the bottom of the pan. My fruit was really juicy so I did not need to do this.
Drain, reserving the liquid and let it all cool over night.
Weigh the drained fruit. This recipe calls for:
1 pound of fruit + 1 lb 4 oz liquid (this is the equivalent to 1 UK pint which is 20 fluid oz) + 2 lbs of sugar. Scale up or down as necessary. If you are working in metric the converted quantities are: 450 grams of fruit + 570 grams of liquid + 900 grams of sugar. Either way, you need a scale.
Weigh the fruit, figure out how much sugar and liquid you need and write it all down.
Measure the reserved liquid. If you have enough, pour it into a big sauce pan. If not, top it up with water and pour it into a big saucepan. Add the sugar and heat it up very gently to dissolve the sugar. The sugar must be completely dissolved before you bring the marm to the boil or it will re-chrystallise when it cools.
Get three bowls out on the counter.
Over bowl 1, open up the fruit (you can do this by hand) and pull out the insides either by hand or with a spoon. It should come out very easily by hand. Put the insides in bowl 1 (along with any juice that comes out as you do this). Remove the little hard disc from the peel and put it in bowl 2 (rubbish bowl). Put the peel in bowl 3. Do all the fruit this way, separating the peel from the fruit from the rubbish.
Throw away the rubbish.
Cut up the peel to the size you want it or put it in the magimix if you really don’t want peel bits at all.
Squash the inside bits through a sieve or press them through a hand mouli ( food mill) to separate the pith and the seeds from the flesh. Gather the seeds and the pith and put them in a little cloth bag that closes. If you don’t have a little cloth bag, tie them up in a muslin cloth. If you have neither bag nor muslin, you can throw the seeds and pith away. However, they help the marmalade set so it’s worth getting a bag or a bit of muslin.
Check that the sugar is completely dissolved by running a spoon along the bottom of the pan. Have a look at the end of the spoon. If there is even one grain of sugar, leave the saucepan for a few minutes and then check again. Once there are no grains of sugar in the pan, add the peel, the strained fruit and the seeds + pith if you are using them. Bring the pan to the boil and then boil rapidly for 20 minutes before checking for set.
While the pan in boiling, put some small saucers into the freezer. To test for set, spoon a small amount on to a freezing cold saucer. Let it cool and then push it with the end of a finger. If it wrinkles, it’s done. If not, boil it for another 5 minutes and then test again. Turn the heat off while you test for set.
Once it is ready, pour it in to warm, sterilised jars (put clean jars in the oven at 100 degrees C while the marmalade is boiling), close them tightly and let the cool before labelling them and storing them until you are ready to eat them or give them away.
Marmalade is just delicious on whole wheat or spelt toast. When I can, I use Gilchester’s flour to bake my whole wheat or spelt bread because it has amazing flavour, performs incredibly well and they deliver.
If you would like to learn how to bake the bread for the toast for your marmalade, take a course with us!