Sunday 20 January 2013


I am not sure how much I inherited from my late Father but one thing I definitely picked up was a love of Chivers Olde English Thick Cut Marmalade. In our house, growing up, it was the only type we ever bought. Nothing else would do. I am not even sure Chivers still exist properly (I think they may have been swallowed up) or if you can still buy this style now but I have since maintained my love of thick-cut marmalade although I have never made any.

Now that we are 'small holders' and getting involved in jam making and other forms of 'putting food by', I decided to give the marmalade making a go. I began asking back in November in local fruit shops where I might get the Seville oranges and struck lucky in a small shop in Ballaghaderreen called "Dew-C" (geddit?) who promised they'd have some in 'after Christmas' and then eventually "next Thursday".

By happy coincidence it turns out that the oldest niece, Kat is also a marmalade-whizz who not only likes the family choice of rather tart thick-cut but also makes her own and has published a recipe with attractive pictures in her own blog. I promptly abandoned my book research and attempts to choose a 'professional, published' recipe and went with the 'family' one. Thank you, Kat. If you, the reader, fancy giving it a go, then the recipe is on

Mine was a 3 kg batch of the oranges to which are which 4 lemons, 4 kg of sugar and 5 litres of water, to make 12 good sized jars of the product. We save our Hellman's mayo jars for the purpose, some of which are the 600 g size, so you'd probably get 14 jars or more if you stuck to standard jam jars.

I love the easy-going, chatty, style of the recipe notes and I was smiling at Kat's getting bored with "finely shredding" the peel half way through the job and deciding that "coarse" is perfectly fine. I must admit I soldiered on with the fine but I could see where she was coming from.

My other comment on the recipe, if you are trying it, is that the original as per Kat is for 1.5 kg of oranges and 2 and a half litres of water which are probably manage-able quantities. We doubled up and ended up with a bit of an issue of fitting the muslin-bagged pulp, water, juice and peel into even our biggest jam pan. I had to leave one litre behind to be added 'downstream'. If you are doing a 3 kg or even a 4 kg batch, check your jam pan is big enough!

We also had a bit of an issue getting a fast enough boil to set the marmalade, even on our bigger back ring on the hob, till we discovered that the gas cannister (no mains gas here - we are on those pale yellow exchangeable cans of (?) propane) was running low and pressure was falling off. Once I'd swapped out the cannister we were away and quickly got that wrinkly-surface to our cooling blobs on the freezer-cold saucer we were using to test the stuff.

It only remained to decant via our plastic measuring jug, select the correct lids, cool  and label It is a beautiful looking bright marmalade, delicious and reasonably well (if a little softly) set. It will join our Blackberry and apple on the shelf for using up, giving away as gifts, or bartering in 'swapsies' as is now our favoured method of trade.

Thank you very much for the recipe and the inspiration, Kat. What's next?

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