Grandma's recipe for marmalade is the most ludicrously inconvenient recipe you'll ever read.
For each pound of oranges, add one tangerine and one lemon. Lemons vary in size quite a lot - how large a lemon? Oh never mind, I'm sure it won't make that much difference; the dominant fruit will still be oranges.
For each pound of fruit... OK, better weigh them then.
Actually, the size of the lemon makes quite a lot of difference.
... Blimey, that's a lot of water! I'd better get out the biggest pan (one year I started from 5lb of oranges. That was a mistake.)
OK, so add the water, leave to soak, simmer for two hours, then calculate how much sugar I need? Based on weight?? So how much sugar am I supposed to buy? Just get a lot - I'll use it up eventually (at time of writing, while the fruit soaks, I had three kilos in the cupboard and suspected it might not be enough. At time of posting, I know it wasn't.)
You see that note at the bottom in different handwriting? That's me recording the weight to volume conversion factor. Having a pan with a scale on the side is really helpful, too.
The thing about marmalade is that I love it, but don't eat very much of it. I'm not quite sure how that works, but I'll have a bit on toast and really enjoy it, then not want to eat more for a while, so it takes a while to get through a normal-sized jar. Making my own, I can bottle it in tiny little jars scrounged from cafes and - in rather larger numbers - from the local hotel (thanks, Becky!) That's not the main reason for making my own, though.
My true motivation for making marmalade in January is the smell of chopped citrus fruit.
In the absence of smellyvision (seriously, it's 2021 - why do we not have smellyvision yet?) I'll have to trust to your imagination to conjure up the intoxicating scent of lemons and orages, heaped on a chopping board. This is a splash of sunshine brought into my dining room on a dull, damp, January afternoon.
Some people use a food processor, but I enjoy taking the time to shred the rinds with a knife in a repetitive, meditative motion, while breathing the heady scent they give off.
The following morning that scent is permeating through the house, increasing as I boil it to soften the fruit. Then I add the sugar, stir it carefully as it dissolves to make sure none catches on the bottom, and then...
I find boiling marmalade mesmerising, with the flecks of golden rind rising and swirling in the depths, and scraps of foam forming and jostling across the oiling, roiling surface. In case you share my peculiar fascination, here's twelve minutes' worth of bubbling marmalade. Enjoy!
PS I know it's not January - I took a while to get this post uploaded.
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