We have had such a wonderful time lately preserving our orange and lemon harvest! Oranges and lemons mean marmalade, you see, and there is nothing quite as delightful as making a few jars of lovely orange coloured goodness to be enjoyed throughout the year...
Spread thickly on buttered toast and served with a pot of tea, marmalade makes a delicious treat indeed!
Apart from making marmalade, we have also dried some of the orange peels for firelighters and the rest we packed into big glass jars and topped up with vinegar to be used as household cleaner...
The lemons we juiced and froze in ice trays to be used in the months to come when lemons are no longer cheap. We also saved the lemon peels for cleaner...
It certainly makes us feel like homesteaders when we preserve our harvest, even if our efforts are still quite small at this stage...
And if you’re a Paddington like my family are (excluding my dad), perhaps you would like to try our delicious three fruit marmalade? I’ll admit that this recipe is a little time-consuming, but it is also very rewarding... And if you’re feeling up to playing with presentation, I have included a few simple presentation ideas which are both charming and practical!
Three Fruit Marmalade
2 medium Grapefruit
3.4 litres Water
10 Jam jars
Weigh your fruit – you should have about 1.4kg in total. Wash the lemons and oranges.
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the rind off the oranges and lemons in thin slices.
By peeling the rind off and leaving the thick white pith behind, you are preventing the marmalade from being too bitter and chunky – this is what puts a lot of people off this delicious treat...
Halve the fruit and squeeze out the juice and the pips.
Wash the grapefruit and pare off the peel as with the lemons and oranges.
Remove the thick pith and membrane and chop the flesh into small pieces.
Put the orange and lemon juice, grapefruit flesh, orange, lemon and grapefruit peel and water into a preserving pan.
Tie up the grapefruit pith and membrane and the pips from the oranges and lemons in a muslin bag and add to the contents of the pan.
Simmer for 1 – 1 ½ hours until the peel is very soft and the liquid is reduced by about half.
Remove the muslin bag and squeeze it out over the pan.
Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve completely. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly until the setting point is reached.
I like to keep a cup of clean, hot water and a pastry brush on hand... While the sugar is dissolving, I wipe the sides of the pan down with the hot water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing... Stir often to prevent the marmalade from sticking.
Test for the setting stage as for jam. See here.
Once your marmalade has reached the right consistency, remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
Pop a knob of butter on top of the marmalade to prevent it from forming a skin.
Once it has cooled down, ladle into warm, sterilised jars and wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth and seal.
Note: The reason marmalade is left to cool for a bit, unlike jam, is because it stops the peel from rising to the top of the jar... I sterilise my jars by washing them in hot, soapy water, giving them a rinse and placing them in the oven on the lowest setting till hot and completely dry. Lids may also be sterilised in this way, but I prefer to boil them for a few minutes in a saucepan of water before using.
Once your jars are cool, polish with a damp cloth. Now for lovely part...the presentation!
Here are a few of my favourite presentation ideas which I am adding to all the time...
~ Dried orange slices make beautiful little ‘labels’ – see instructions to make your own below...
Thinly slice a few oranges (do more than you need and save for future projects) and place on a wire rack in the oven for a few hours or overnight at the lowest setting... Once completely dry, use an awl to make a hole in the edge of the orange slice, thread a piece of raffia through and tie around each jar of marmalade...
~ Pretty tags made from scrapbook paper are lovely, too... You could either adhere printed out lettering to each label (choose a fancy font for added interest), or if you have beautiful handwriting, use a coloured pen instead... Secure tags to jars with ribbon, lace or raffia...
~ My granny likes to place a piece of fabric over the lid of each of her jars. She first secures it with an elastic band and then with a piece of ribbon. This can also be done with pretty scrapbook paper, although it is a little challenging to achieve the required look – speaking from experience here!
Previously I would only label those jars I intended to give as gifts... But this year I chose to spend a bit of extra time prettying up our own as well...
Touches like these are so special and help to show your family how much you love and care for them...
If you are a busy mother of many, might I suggest you give an older daughter the responsibility of labeling your family’s preserves?
She will enjoy the creative learning experience and you will appreciate not having to worry about a mix-up in the pantry a few months down the line - (again, speaking from experience here!)