Thursday, January 29, 2009
...was how the orange trees of Valencia looked after a weekend of hurricane force winds. 80% of the fruit is lying on the ground and it is doubtful if much of the commercial crop can be salvaged for the simple reason that the farmers are only equipped with machinery to gather their crop directly from the trees and do not have the manpower to collect the fallen fruit before it rots in situe on the ground. This is not the case in this house of course; visiting offspring are roped in to gather the windfalls, and this is the result of the first batch, made with 2 kilos of blood oranges, and therefore will be labelled Bloody Marmalised. I am not a traditional marmalade maker. I do not cut painstakingly thin slices of peel and float them in a crystal clear jelly. My method is straightforward and simple. Wash 2 kilos of oranges and a couple of lemons, put them whole, with a litre of water, into your largest pressure cooker and give them 10 -15 minutes at full wack. When cooked, they will have split and released more of their juice into the pan. Use a colander to strain them over a jam pan so that the juice is in the jam pan and oranges are in the colander. Leave the oranges to cool a little while you add the sugar to the juice in the pan, turn on the heat and give it a quick stir. Leave this to bubble away until all the sugar has dissolved; it is so much easier to see that it has dissolved in the clearish liquid than it is when you have added the fruit. Set up your mincer with a large bowl ready to catch the fruit as it comes out. I like to tip my ancient orange Moulinex mincer at an angle so that the juice runs out of the mincer tube rather than back into the mincer mechanics. Start cutting your oranges into quarters. I usually start off handling the hot fruit with a knife and fork, but it soon cools enough to use hand and knife. Poke about in the flesh to check for pips, and remove any that you find. Today I found only three pips in the whole 2 kilos, but it does depend on the variety; Sevilles are usually more pip than fruit! Feed the de-pipped quarters through your mincer. I use the finest plate because Bossman likes it that way, and he eats most of it, but if you like a lot of texture, use the coarser one. By the time you have finished mincing, the sugar should have dissolved. Just tip all the orange pulp into the jam pan and give it a good stir to break up the lumps. What was an opaque whitish mess transforms into a translucent orange scrumtiousness when it hits the hot syrup. When you have brought the whole lot back to the boil, test for setting. I kid you not! The fact that the pressure cooking uses a lot less liquid that conventional cooking means that the pectin content is very concentrated, and I have never failed to achieve a good set within minutes of reaching a good rolling boil. Jar up as usual, then wash the pots ready for the next batch...but not before you have scraped out all the sticky bits and enjoyed them on a crust of bread.