It's that time again - Seville oranges are in the shops, and after procrastinating for a couple of weeks I finally engaged in the war of attrition that is making marmalade. For 30 (relatively) trouble free years I was under the impression that I didn't like marmalade, then all of a sudden started thinking how nice some sort of bitter orange jam might be. (It took a while to realise that obviously there is such a thing. Which is mildly embarrassing, but I'm admitting to it anyway.)
Every year about this time I wonder if it would make more sense to just buy it as I needed it, but the discovery of marmalade coincided with the discovery that I love making jam, and home made is better (it is, isn't it?). In the summer when looking for something unrelated I will inevitably find a stash of last years marmalade and realise that I have about 2 dozen jars lurking around the place, I'll then swear I truly won't make another batch next year, but when I see those oranges I just can't resist.
Right this moment however... I prefer the method where you boil the fruit whole for an hour or 2 to soften it then chop it up, I find it easier to get a reasonably fine cut that way, and the pips seem easier to extract. So yesterday that's what I did, but by the time the chopping was done it was later than I thought so I left it until today to boil it up.
After a long day at work it wasn't something that I really wanted to do, but I comforted myself with the promise that the recipe says it should take about 20 minutes after reaching boiling point yo get yo setting point.
It didn't. It took 2 hours. The thermometer promised me I'd reached setting point after *only* an hour and a half, and the wrinkle test was promising, but I realised as I poured it into the jars that it really wasn't right, so back in the pan it went. I'm not sure if I should have re sterilised the jars or not. I didn't so I'm hoping for the best on that. I spent so long waiting for it to boil up that I had time to make a fruit cake (well, what else could I do?). I finally finished my Christmas cake yesterday, and will miss it, dry as it was. The one currently baking is an attempt to try and better understand the oven, as well as a replacement - it's got an interesting mix of fruit in it, but with luck will turn out okay. Much the same as the marmalade really.
Still, regardless of the effort, the risk of burns (very real), how sticky everything now is (very sticky), how much long it takes (so long), and an aching shoulder... It still has to be homemade, and tomorrow when I see all those jars lined up at breakfast time it'll all feel worth it (I hope).