Ireland day 0121. Thursday 27 January 2022- Marmalade!
I expect there are many readers who have been thinking to themselves – I wish he would just get on with that marmalade – or shut up about it as it’s getting boring. Anyway I got on with it today, so I can tell you all about it. (The same cannot be said for the car, though, so I will take my own advice and stay quiet on that particular topic for a bit).
At last, with a completely clear day ahead of me, I had no further excuse for prevarication, so I got the Sevilles ready and washed, downloaded Mrs Smith’s recipe, and got going. I’m not going to just recite Saint Delia’s wise words – you can download it yourself if you are interested. Save to say it’s excellent.
Now, although I have made marmalade many times in the past, I found it especially hard today. The first reason it was a bit challenging was because I hadn’t got all the proper equipment – despite Tuesday’s shopping expedition. In particular I discovered I had forgotten to get any muslin cloth to put the pith and seeds in, so I had to use tea towels instead. The second was that we hadn’t got a big enough pan to cook it all in, so I had to divide it between three pans to start with (one of which was the frying pan) then two pans and eventually just one, as the water was boiled off.
But the most serious problem was with the ceramic hob. Basically this seems to only have two settings – boiling hot and off. The complete uncontrollability combined with the over-full pans meant that they kept boiling over, depositing a black concrete-like decoration on the hob, and filling the flat with smoke which threatened to set the fire alarm off. If you are thinking of getting a ceramic hob, I suggest you don’t.
Eventually I managed to combine all the ingredients into one syrupy mass and using the finger-wrinkle test I decided it had reached the setting point. This was possibly the most dangerous moment in the whole process, as it involved decanting the boiling proto-marmalade out of the pan and into the jam jars which were at 120° as I had just sterilised them in the oven. (As an aside – I have to say I had managed to get the jars sparking clean, though one of them did have a lingering smell of curry paste which was slightly worrying).
With lots of hissing and fizzing (and swearing), I managed to get the vast majority of the gloop out of the pan and into the jars, leaving only a relatively small pool on the worktop to be scraped immediately onto toast for testing purposes. At this point I made a bit of a mistake as I poured the molten wax (remember the candles) onto the surface of the hot marmalade in the jars, then screwed on the lids tightly. In hindsight, I realise I should have let the marmalade cool for a bit and then stirred it before sealing it. As it was, it was a bit hot and not very viscous, so a lot of the peel rose to the top, meaning the first half of each jar will be extra peel-y, and the bottom half will be extra jelly-y. Well, let’s just call it a feature.
You can see the finished product in the banner image at the top. Although it might not actually win first prize in the Malahide jam-making competition, it looks quite good and more to the point it tastes OK too. Well at least the bit that I scraped off the worktop did.
(And by the way in case you are wondering what Val was doing while all this was going on – she has had previous experience of what it is like when I start doing things in the kitchen, so she wisely went out and enjoyed a few hours of relative tranquillity reading in the lovely Malahide library).
So that’s the first major task of 2022 successfully delivered after only two months of talking about it and then six solid hours actually doing it. Now let me tell you about the car. Well, perhaps not.
Today’s photos (click to enlarge)