Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Home-Made Orange Marmalade

Felt like having a little bit of sunshine in my life, had nothing much to do at that point, and on a bit of a fender-bender about natural foods. Definitely not because I felt Martha Stewart-ish. So, whiled the time away by making orange marmalade! It really is awfully easy, but requires a bit of time and patience. Even the premium jams consist of at most 40% fruit (the rest is sugar and gelling agents!) whereas if you make it yourself, your own jam will consist of at least 60% fruit. And the end result tastes so much vastly superior to store bought jams. A good use of 2 hours of time.

The substance which gives jam its semi-solid consistency is pectin, which occurs naturally in fruits (and eggs too!) to different levels. You can use fruits other than oranges, but the pectin levels differ so additives may have to be used to make other types of jam. Citrus fruits (their rinds to be technically correct), blackberries, redcurrents have very high levels of pectin so no additives required while strawberries are low pectin fruits so you do need to use additional pectin to make strawberry jam, either by using commercially derived pectin (available in baking stores) or lemon juice.

Makes about 2 regular jam jars
2 oranges, 1 lemon
Lots of sugar

Scrub the oranges and lemon well, and cut into quarters, leaving the rind on. Soak in 2 cups (480 ml) of water overnight. The next day, cut the fruit into fine shreds or dice them finely if it is easier. Reserve the soaking water.

[If you do not like the slightly bitter taste of the rind, remove the rind from 1 orange, do not chop it up, but reserve it for cooking since the rind has very high pectin levels which facilitates the jam to coagulate and become gel like. Otherwise you will end up with runny orange syrup.]

Cook the diced fruit together with the soaking water at a simmer for 1 hour, taste to ensure that the chopped up rind has softened. Measure out the cooked mixture at this point and add about 60 - 70% of the volume as sugar (i.e. if you have 1 bowl of cooked mixture, add 0.6 of a bowl of sugar into your saucepan). Continue cooking the mixture together with the sugar, over a very low heat. Stir regularly as high sugar mixtures tend to caramelise and burn easily. After about 20 minutes or so, test to see if the jam is ready. Scoop up a teaspoon of the jam and place in the fridge to cool down. The jam is ready when it does not flow back when you part it in the centre using your finger.

Scoop your lovely jam into pre-sterilized jam jars. You can do this while the jam is cooking by simply pouring boiling water over clean jam jars and then heating them in the oven at 200 deg C for 15 min. Use tongs to handle the jars and their covers, do not contaminate them once they have been sterilized.

Bon Appetit!

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