Seville oranges are in season right now so it is time to roll up your sleeves and make Marmalade! I learnt a couple of things last week, firstly that Seville oranges have a short season from the end of December to mid-February, and secondly that there is a high concentration of pectin (natural gelling agent) in the pith and seeds of citrus fruits. What this means is that to make marmalade you only need 3 ingredients and decent amount of time on your hands.
Now I confess before I embarked on making Marmalade last weekend I gave Mummy Mortimer a ring to see if she had any top tips. Her advice was to cut the oranges in half and to cook them first in a shallow pan with a little water to soften the rind. It was a great shout and meant that I could make the marmalade in two stages and the rind was incredibly easy to cut into slivers.
My tip is to put at least 4 side plates in the freezer for testing when the jam has reached setting point. When you think the jam is ready to test – spoon a small amount onto one of the plates and place back in the freezer for 1 minute and then push the marmalade gently with your fingers to see if the jam wrinkles. If it does then you will know that it is ready, if not keep boiling.
The beauty of making your own marmalade is that you can adjust the balance of sugar in the recipe to suit your own palate. I personally prefer a sharp marmalade so I work on the following ratio 750g sugar to 1 litre of liquid and then add more sugar as needed.
The process of making marmalade whilst lengthy is very easy and I recommend you giving it a go if you can get it your hands on some Seville oranges. At the end of the process you’ll have at least 3 jars which you and either keep and enjoy over the next few months or give to friends and family as gifts. Enjoy!
“A wise bear always keeps a marmalade sandwich in his hat in case of an emergency”
~ A Bear Called Paddington ~
I don’t remember when I first came across sweet chilli sauce. However, I know it made a real impression on me when I was back packing around Australia with a friend. One of our staple meals that could be bought just about anywhere was nachos with sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. It was great because it was cheap and filling – perfect when you are living on a budget. However, it was not until we went trekking in Lamington National Park and stayed in a guest house that I discovered the wonders of sweet chilli sauce in a dip. Since then I have never looked back.
I started trying to make sweet chilli sauce about a year ago. The first attempt wasn’t a wild success because I didn’t let the liquid reduce enough, subsequently I had a very thin, runny syrup that tasted OK , but wasn’t quite right. My last attempt worked much better as it was more the consistency of runny honey and I played around with the ingredients a bit and the flavour was really good, not too hot and not too sweet.
Last week I used a combination of the sweet chilli sauce, my Chinese plum sauce and soy sauce to form a marinade for a pork stir-fry. When I made goat’s cheese pancakes the other day I tried one of them with a little of the sweet chilli sauce and they went together surprisingly well. But the most common use for the sauce in our house is in dips.
Sweet Chilli Sauce
Ingredients: (makes roughly 750ml)
400ml cider vinegar
4 garlic cloves (minced)
2 hot chillies (finely diced)
1 ½” ginger (peeled and finely grated)
1 tsp salt and pepper
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and place on a high heat.
Bring it up to a rolling boil and leave it to reduce down until you have the consistency that you are looking for – then bottle.
A simple dip
3 heaped tbsp crème fraiche
1-2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
pepper (to season)
3 chive stalks, chopped (optional)
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season with pepper, taste and add more sweet chilli sauce if needed.