Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dark Thick Marmalade

Greetings again from the wilds of Cornwall, where it got so chilly last night that we had an actual frost! The daffodils are starting to come up in the front garden, though, so we're not entirely despairing.

Today with the The Women's Institute of 650 Favourite Recipes we skip past "Gooseberry Swansdown" (a molded jelly, of which there are many), "Sussex Pond Pudding" (a dried fruit and suet steamed pudding that contains precisely 0% pond) and "Pwdin Watcyn Wynne", which is Welsh for "Watcyn Wynne Pudding", because vowels are English, and appears to consist of a similar pudding made of mainly breadcrumbs and suet. Delicious, all of them, I'm certain, and I do so enjoy making a pudding.

(Today's lovely assistant/prop is Ashley the Six-Claw'd Menace, who has had to be forcibly separated from the yarn on the table.)

Whenever I think about cakes, I remember a broadcast of the famous British radio comedy programme I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, where the regulars are impersonating members of the Women's Institute being asked about cake. To paraphrase:
Questioner: Have you been concerned about the recent salmonella scares?
WI Lady 1: Oh, no, dear, we rarely use salmon or any other fish in our cakes.
WI Lady 2: Although we did make a very nice sea-bass meringue pie one year.

We end up on page 262 with Dark Thick Marmalade. Now, I'm very lucky because a Mrs Dingle brings her marmalade to the weekly WI market in the village, and Mrs Dingle's marmalade is possibly the best I have ever tasted, so I've never felt the need to make my own. Of course, as we run up to Advent, a jar of homemade marmalade would make an equally good Christmas present as the fudge Wendy posted about today. That said, for Christmas you can't go wrong with a nice pot of chutney or cranberry relish for the Twelve Days of Leftovers.
Dark Thick Marmalade

1 kg/2 lb Seville Oranges
1 small lemon
2.75 to 4 litres/5 to 7 pints water
2.75 kg/6 lb sugar
25g/1 oz dark treacle (which Google tells me is blackstrap molasses in the US)
225g/8 oz crystallized ginger, chopped (optional)

I rather like the sound of adding the ginger here. This would make great marmalade for having a cold. Hmm, perhaps adding some hot chilis to it as well for a real kick?
Scrub the fruit, then cut it in half and squeeze out the juice into a preserving pan. Remove the pips and fibrous membranes and tie these in a piece of muslin.
You do have a piece of muslin hanging around your kitchen for just such an occurrence, right?

Add to the pan. Finely shred the peel without removing any of the white pith and add to the pan with the water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 2 hours or until the peel is very soft and the contents of the pan are well reduced. Remove the muslin bag, squeezing out the juice against the side of the pan.

Add the sugar and treacle and stir to dissolve, then return to the boil and boil until setting point is reached. Add the ginger, if using. Skim off the scum and leave to stand for 4 to 5 minutes for the peel to settle. Pot as usual.

Clearly, the WI expects the cook to be familiar with things like preserving pans and setting points and how to safely and hygienically pot preserves. (Either that or the brownies later on in the chapter are not your granny's brownies, if you know what I mean.) I'll leave you to research that one on your own.


  1. Oh, golly, but I love marmalade. I had this fabulous marmalade at a Methodist youth hostel in London, back in 1993. It was heavy with Scotch, and I got thinking... marmalade...scotch...ground coriander...

    Which is now one of my favorite ways to pre-treat beef for stir frying and grills.

  2. " to safely and hygienically pot preserves...I'll leave you to research that one on your own."

    I'll give American readers a hint on this research: call your county Extension office and ask for food preservation help. Or check out the food pres publications at - the University of Georgia is the FDA food safety information repository.

  3. I love slathering meat in preserves before cooking. Game needs something tart like cranberries or currants or an onion marmalade. Mint, of course, for lamb, and orange for duck, and it's so easy and comes out wonderfully.

    Actual advice on food preservation (i.e., potting, canning or jarring) is definitely best had from reputable sources in your own country. It seems to have an awful reputation for kitchen-related injuries, possibly because it involves hell-hot glass and metal that need to be screwed onto each other.