Have you noticed how its sometimes easier to get stuff done when you’re already really busy? This is what happens with my Christmas marmalade. I plan to make marmalade for months, but somehow it’s never the right moment. To make marmalade or any meal you need a minimum of concentration, and when things are buzzing in my office I’m incapable of keeping an eye on something in the kitchen.
So working on the ‘really busy day’ principle, I made this marmalade on Christmas Eve. A glass of champagne on the worktop and family milling around. It was a fun moment.
To make my christmas marmalade is really really easy. You just need:
three organic lemons, three organic oranges, three (not too big) organic grapefruit and three kilos of sugar.
If you have a large jam making pan that would be a great help, because as you probably know the secret to any good jam is to let the surplus liquid evaporate quickly so that the fresh flavour of the fruit is preserved.
First wash and cut your fruit into quarters and thin slices. This is why you want to use organic citrus fruit, because the skin is cooked along with the flesh of the fruit, so you are not looking for fruit filled with chemicals. As you cut the fruit, put any pips to one side, and slip them into a small muslin bag, these will provide the pectin that makes your jam set.
Leave the fruit to soak for up to 24 hours in a big bowl with three times its volume of cold water. Because I was short on time, I cut my fruit up at breakfast time and left it to soak through the day.
When you are ready to make the marmalade, pour the fruit and water into your preserving pan, and slowly bring to the boil. Simmer for about two hours or until the mixture has reduced by at least one third. Now you’re ready to add the sugar. The cook books will tell you to measure the weight of cooked fruit and match the weight in sugar. I did not do that.
By the time I got to this stage, we were about to open more champagne for a Christmas Eve aperitif, and I had no urge to start weighing hot fruit. I added the three kilos of sugar directly to the pan of simmering fruit, stirred gently until the sugar had melted then turned up the heat.
This is a good moment to pop a saucer or two into the deep freeze. This will help you test the marmalade to tell if it is set.
The jam will boil vigorously, creating a deep layer of white foaming syrup. Stir occasionally and after about 15 minutes start testing to see if it will set. Spoon a small quantity of jam onto one of the cold saucers, wait a few seconds and push with your finger tip. If the surface of the jam starts to crinkle, then your marmalade is cooked and you can turn off the heat.
Leave to cool slightly before ladling into squeaky clean jam jars. Do not cover with lids until the jam is totally cold. Serve for breakfast the next morning and graciously accept the avalanche of compliments and rounds of applause as you appear with the beautiful pots of sparkling Christmas marmalade.
Hope you are enjoying the holidays with your special peeps. Thank you for reading me today. I look forward to bringing you many more recipes, flowers and tales of France in the year ahead.