It’s a great feeling to know what is in season. It seems in supermarkets everything is conveniently available all year, through advances in food preserving technology, controlled growing and increased food miles. To instead walk down to the garden, soak up the season and use all your senses to determine whether the fruit and veg that Grandma has grown is ready for the kitchen is lovely. To touch and smell your way through the garden with the kids looking for cooking inspiration is bliss.
Quite quickly you also find your attitude to food waste changes when you have grown the produce.
It’s estimated that in our fast, hectic lives, Aussies waste 1 of each 5 bags of fresh food. When you instead start to grow your own food, even if it’s a few herbs on the mantle, and nurture the plants which in return give you so much, preserving the goodness becomes of great importance. Suddenly your perception on seasonal produce changes, and your pantry transforms into what everyone’s would have looked like only a few generations ago.
When you grow it yourself, or even chat to the farmers at your local market, you feel a lot more connected to your food. You know exactly where it has come from, the hard work put into it, and all the chemicals (or lack of) that you are consuming. You don’t need to read the small print, you just know! Since moving closer to Sydney and spending so much time in Grandma’s garden, now our family doesn’t waste to the same degree, and we have become passionate about preserving the plentiful harvests of each season.
So where do we get our Marmalade Recipe from…. Grandma’s sister Aunty Jen in the UK of course.
1.3kg of Oranges & 2 Lemons
2.6kg Preserving Sugar or granulated
100g Fresh Root Ginger
Juice the lemons, and then add the lemon juice, and oranges (whole) to a large pot, and cover in water. You can use a plate to submerge them if they are floating around. Bring to boil, cover and gently simmer for 2 hours. The skin should be easily pierced at this point.
Warm the sugar in a very low oven.
Take the oranges out of the cooking liquid and put them into a bowl to cool. Once cooled, cut in half and scoop out the pips and pith and add it to the reserved orange liquid still in your pan. Bring to a boil for 6 minutes, and then strain this liquid through a sieve into a bowl. Make sure you press the pulp through with a wooden spoon to get as much as possible. It’s very high in pectin so is the secret to a good set! Cut the remaining orange peel into thin strips, and set aside.
Peel the fresh root ginger and slide thinly. Tie in a muslin bags and bruise with a rolling pin to release the lovely juices. If you don’t have a muslin bag you can use a steel tea strainer to hold the ginger.
Add your warm sugar and orange peel strips into the pan and stir over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved which should take about 10 minutes. Add the ginger bag and bring to the boil. Bubble rapidly for 15-25 minutes. Take out the ginger bags just before the setting point is reached. If you are unsure of how it’s progressing, place a cool spoon into the pan, and see if the jam sticks to the back of the spoon. Of course tasting the consistency once it is cooled is always the key to cooking!
Leave the marmalade to stand for 20 minutes so the peel can settle.
Pour your gorgeous homemade marmalade into your sterilized jars ready.
Next season, if you want your Marmalade even sweeter, you can experiment by boiling the skin in several changes of water until the skin is soft and the bitterness is gone.
Jenny, who lives in the Scottish Borders, has been raving on about her Marmalade for years now. She describes her batches as Paddington Bear with a (wee) twist. Although she says it’s ideal in the summer, her summer is about the same as what we are experiencing now, so it’s perfect for our gorgeous oranges.
Jen a fantastic gardener, and on each visit back home, she comes with stories and photos of her prized blooms. The bursts of colours in her garden against the old stone walls are spectacular. She also has a green house where she lovingly tends to a few Australian plants such as her bottlebrush. Whilst the look spectacularly exotic for visitors, for Jen it’s the smell of her Australian childhood.
Guem Mrs Bradshaw Flower
Caceclana integrifolia Kentish hero
This is a great recipe for preserving the goodness in the garden during August. The only thing you should have left is the lemon peel, as well as a small amount of ginger peel, and the remaining pulp from the oranges, which has been through a sieve to ensure all the goodness is extracted. Simply compost the ginger and pulp, and then consider the following uses for the lemon.
Our three favorite uses for lemon peel.
Lemon Dressing – Zest the lemon peel and add to a cup of oil olive. Let it stand for 2 weeks in the fridge, then strain. the remaining ‘favored’ olive oil is fabulous over a salad of even steamed beans to add a little each freshness.
Lemon Cleaner – Cut up the lemon peel and add to a cup of White Vinegar. Let it stand for 2 weeks. Strain the liquid and then add a cup of water. A great replacement for commercial cleaners this even cuts through grease.
Lemon Freshener – After a double batch of marmalade, cooked with ‘help’ from the kids, I’m feeling a little lazy. For this option, simply place the lemon peel in a bowl and put it in your fridge for a week. It will absorb any smells, replacing them with the fresh smell of citrus.