Dalemain marmalade competition 2010

February 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

We wait with bated breath this morning for the results of this year’s “Grand Prix of Marmalade” held at Dalemain, a country house and estate near Penrith in Cumbria.

http://www.marmaladefestival.com/competition.html

Marmalade is a man-thing in our household.  Much as I enjoy marmalade, it’s my husband Tim and our two sons who insist on its presence at the breakfast table.  It’s become part of our annual ritual that Tim tracks down Seville oranges every January, painstakingly shreds the tough peel and produces 6 or so gleaming jars of marmalade that generally last us through until August.  Then it’s back to the Tiptree or Frank Cooper’s to get us through the rest of th year.

We discovered the Dalemain marmalade festival during a tour of the house and gardens during the summer.  It seemed entirely natural that the right category to enter would be the “man-made” one (name self-explanatory).

Here is Tim carefully scraping pulp and pips from the juiced Seville oranges into a piece of muslin.  These are a rich source of pectin and will give the marmalade the right set.

Here are the prepared oranges ready for the first boiling stage. This fills the house with delicious orange aromas brightening up the depths of winter. You can see the little muslin bag containing pips and pith tied to the preserving pan handle.

Here is the selected jar ready for despatch to Dalemain:

I must say the marmalade was very good this year, the aromatic and with just about the perfect set – not too runny, not rubber-solid.  Tim’s fate is in the hands of those tough Women’s Institute judges now who’ll make their decision later this morning.  Let’s see what happens…

Recipe for Seville orange marmalade

This is the recipe that Tim uses for consistently reliable results.  It’s from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course.

Ingredients

2 lb (900g) Seville oranges
1 lemon
4 lb (1.8kg) preserving sugar (ie the large crystal kind, NOT the one with added pectin) or granulated sugar
4 pints (2.25 litres) water

Measure the water into the preserving pan.  Cut the oranges and lemon in half and squeeze out the juice. Add the juice to the water and place the pips and bits of pith clinging to the squeezer onto a square of muslin.

Cut the orange peel (not the lemon peel) into quarters with a sharp knife, then cut each quarter into thinnish shreds.  As you cut, add the shreds to the water and any further pips of pith to the muslin. The pips and pith contain the all-important  pectin to set the marmalade so be diligent at this stage and don’t just chuck it away.

Tie up the piece of muslin to form a little bag and tie this to the handle of the pan so that the bag is suspended in the water. Bring the liquid up to simmering point and simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 hours or so until the peel is completely soft. Test by pressing and/or biting it.

Remove the bag of pips and set aside to cool. Add the warmed sugar to the pan and stir it occasionally over a low heat until it dissolves. Increase the heat, and squeeze the bag of pips over the pan to extract as much jelly-like pectin as you can, scraping it off.  Stir to mix thoroughly.

Once the mixture reaches a fast boil, start timing. After 15 minutes test for a set by spooning a teaspoon of marmalade onto a saucer cooled in your freezer. You have the right set if, once the mixture has cooled for a minute it has a crinkly skin. If it’s not reached setting point, boil for another 5 minutes and test again. Keep doing this until setting-point is reached.  This can take some time depending on your particular batch of oranges.

Once setting-point is reached, remove the pan from the heat. Skim off any excess scum at this stage.  Leave the marmalade to settle for 20 minutes. This resting will ensure the peel is evenly distributed in the jar when you come to pot.

While you wait, warm your cleaned, rinsed and dried jars (6  1lb jars or their equivalent) in a moderate oven for 10 minutes.

Pour the marmalade with the aid of a metal jam funnel or ladle into the jars.  Top each with a waxed disc and seal with a lid immediately.  Label when cool.

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