Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Watched Pan Never Sets

Marmalade making was meant to be easy....

the recipe in the magazine promised me "The best marmalade ever"- so why was my marmalade refusing to set.

What could go have gone wrong?
I bought organic seville oranges in Waitrose
I had the recipe which guaranteed "The best marmalade ever".
I could make bread - surely making the marmalade for spreading on top could not be more difficult.

Twenty- four hours later - I have pots of semi-set orange jam.
Is that allowed as a new genus of the species formerly known as 'marmalade'?

First mistake:
I had grand ideas and used 2 kilos of oranges. I should have started small and expanded.
I bought a jam thermometer, thinking if I went technical I couldn't go wrong. "The best marmalade ever" told me once the mix reached a boiling temperature of 105 C I was guaranteed a set.  Dear readers - never think there is a quick fix.
I had to resort to freezing small plates with dribbles of marmalade and hoping for a wrinkly skin (on the marmalade of course). I never achieved a wrinkle, but thankfully, 18 hours later, the amber liquid has semi-solidified and no longer needs to be poured from a jug.
Followed by:
I poured my mix into 18 jam jars, believing that the tasty yet thin and watery liquid marmalade would magically turn into seriously set marmalade when cool. My sister wisely counselled me that "hell would freeze over first" and "I best pour it back in the pan and get boiling". Sadly I poured the seven litres of orange water with bits in back into my pan whilst she bravely searched the internet for solutions to the "My marmalade won't set" search engine.

First discovery:
Oranges and lemons do not have a lot of pectin and don't set well. News to me and as I had just added the juice of two more lemons, possibly increasing my problems.
Adding a Bramley cooking apple (rich in pectin) could set the amber liquid. This did seem to help - combined with another hour of boiling and at 8:30pm I officially called a truce with the Spanish oranges and poured them into jars.

Happy accident:
Not only was I marmalade making but also pancake tossing. We discovered the liquid marmalade makes the most delicious sauce for pancakes - a la Crepe Suzette. So I do have the option of a lifetime's worth of sauce for crepes if the darned marmalade remains loose and liquid in my jars.

Apologies, no recipe today - I would not wish to inflict on you the many hours of slaving over a hot stove for very loose marmalade. The saving grace is it tastes delicious even in its fluid state.

All genuine recipes for fool proof marmalade gratefully received because I have another four kilos of oranges awaiting me in my freezer. (After 9 years in China, I did get a little over excited at the prospect of making marmalade again!)


RainCityGirl said...

Oh my, happy accidents and lots of orange liquid. It does look really good on those pancakes.

aracne said...

It happened to me too, before I discovered that oranges have no pectine (didn't know about the lemons).
I got a few bitter oranges that are FULL of pectine, made marmalade with these then mixed the sadly-liquid normal-oranges failed-marmelade, bolied a little more and voilĂ : it set! If you can find a few bitter oranges, the trick is done.
Let us know if it worked.

Astrid said...

Mmm, love the look of it on pancakes. I wonder if you could use it to soak the cakey bit in a trifle, too...

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