Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Orange Brandy Marmalade

This is a deep, dark, bold, bittersweet marmalade with a bit of bite.

I'm speechless. I thought I'd have something witty and clever to say in this post but nothing's coming to mind right now. So this is it. I tried my hand at marmalade and on the third attempt got it right. The first was delicious but didn't set. So I went out to get some pectin. I added it to the second batch, which was a teeny tiny test batch and it ended-up setting like concrete. I then did some more research on marmalades online and made the third batch... which succeeded! 

I found Cara Cara oranges by accident and used them instead of the regular Navel or Valencia varieties. The flesh of the Cara Cara ranges from a deep pink to a light red. It makes a lovely jam. No point looking for Seville oranges as there's none to be had in this country.

I am well-pleased, though I do not for one moment think this victory is all mine. I had a muse you see.  His name is Paddington Bear. (I knew I did good by kidnapping him for awhile) Before she complains long and loud, I should publicly thank his owner for allowing me to kidnap him for a bit. So Miss Paddington... I thank you from the bottom of my heart for loaning him to me. A bottle of successful marmalade awaits you.

There he is... my darling muse... and my precious sugar termometer


1.35 kg Sunkist Cara Cara Oranges
2 Lemons
3 litres Water
400g Demerara Sugar
600g Fine Granulated Sugar
100ml Brandy

Slice all the fruit in half. Place in a large, deep pot and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 2 hours. Top water occasionally back to 3 litres (you have to eyeball this) every now and then. After 2 hours, remove from fire, let it cool completely, then separate the fruit from the liquid.

Scoop out the flesh of the fruit (including any seeds), along with some of the softened white part of the rind.

Put all this onto a piece of muslin/cheesecloth. Hold up the edges of the cloth and twist it to into a secure ball. Now, squeeze the ball with all your might to get every bit of liquid in it out. Once done, add this liquid back into the pot. Discard the contents of the cloth.

Cut up the rind according to your taste i.e. fine or rough cut. add this into the pot as well. Cover the pot and leave it to stand overnight.

The next day, put the pot on low fire, attach a sugar thermometer to the side of the pot and add in the sugar. Do not let the liquid come to the boil before all the sugar is melted.

Once the sugar is all melted, raise the heat slightly, bring to the boil and let it simmer away for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent any sticking to the bottom of the pot.

When the temperature reaches 100 Celsius, watch the pot carefully. The mixture will start boiling furiously up the sides of the pot. Stir to keep it in control. Once the temperature reaches 105 Celsius (jam setting point), remove the pot from the fire, skim off the scum and let it stand for about 10 minutes. Add the brandy. Stir a little to mix in the brandy and distribute the peel. Pour into bottles and screw the lids on tight.

Let it cool overnight. You can either eat it straightaway or let it sit for 2 weeks in a cool, dry place for the flavours to mellow.

Equipment Needed
Stainless steel heavy-bottomed large pot or a Maslin pan
This is important because once the liquid reaches a rolling-boil it will start climbing up the sides of the pot and could flow over the sides. The liquid will be very hot and could cause a terrible burn if not careful.

Sugar thermometer
It is the easiest way to tell that the jam has reached its' setting point.

Glass bottles or jars with lids

I re-use shop-bought jam jars and their lids. Boil some water just before the 3 hour mark while the jam is almost reaching setting point. Pour the boiling water (fresh off the fire) on the jars and lids. Dry off with a clean cloth. Place all the bottles into the microwave on high heat for about 1 minute. Remove and use.

*A note about the online research. There are so many sources to refer to. Too many to remember and mention. It is best to read as many as possible before embarking on jam-making. It's a science of its' own.  Google 'Marmalade' and you'll find them all.