I love marmalade....toast and marmalade, home made bread toasted with melted butter and marmalade for breakfast.....delicious! With fresh coffee and then the newspapers afterwards...all wrapped up in my lovely woolly dressing gown from Melin Tregwynt. That's how we have spent this morning, with the rain dripping onto the conservatory roof. I look out at the damp garden and make up my mind to bring in my succulents. Autumn is truly here, but what a glorious summer we have had!
Back to this most recent of marmalades....I love cardamom, in savoury dishes, but since I discovered the Hairy Biker's coffee cake, in sweet things too.
I have pears to preserve/conserve, so looking through my books, I found this recipe in Seasonal Preserves by Joanna Farrow. I bought a kilo of fresh plump lemons during the day, and planned for my next batch of preserves.
Hubby was going off for dinner with his college friends, I had all the evening to myself, an evening of chopping and boiling...
My hand is still a little sore and as I tried the following:
'Halve and squeeze the lemons. Cut the squeezed lemons in half. Using a sharp knife, flatten the peel down on the surface and cut a thick horizontal slice to remove the pith from the peel'...
I had thoughts of serious knife cuts and no one to come to the rescue. Luckily I had only cut through the first lemon and tried this when I thought of a better way for me. With a sharp potato peeler off came the zest,
then with the famous rocking action of sharp knife through the peel I was left with a bowl of fine pieces. I was in the zone with great music in the background.
I then peeled and chopped through a huge pile of pears...well you need quite a few small pears to end up with 1.4 Kg prepared fruit. All this whilst the lemon peel and pith was boiling away...next time I shall reduce the liquid to 1 litre and cook with a lid on. My reasoning being that if the air smelt so wonderful, then I would prefer this aroma to stay in the liquid, and despite my extractor going full pelt, the walls were beginning to drip with condensation. Even better, I shall use my pressure cooker, since I do this each time I make Seville Marmalade to reduce the cooking time dramatically.
Then the stirring fruit, sugar and spices starts: the smell was magical, but quite strong. Before potting up I went fishing for most of the pods, that way to avoid having to pick them out when eating the conserve and I thought leaving them in would lead to too much cardamom flavour. That evening I felt a little deflated. So much work chopping and cooking, and maybe I would not like the preserve....I quietly tidied up, washed up, and lined up my jars to set overnight, and said a prayer to the Preserving Gods.
In the morning, I tried the little bit I had put by in a ramekin dish on my morning toast, the smell was sharp and spicy, the taste far more subtle: tangy and mellow. How can one have such opposite tastes in one mouthful? Its the wonderful juxtaposition of lemon and pear...
A couple of weeks later the preserve has mellowed further, and is the marmalade of choice for the present.
Interesting marmalades so far: Grapefruit Marmalade, Lime Marmalade, Grapefruit and Lemon Marmalade, Apricot and Orange Marmalade, Kumquat marmalade spiced with cardamom, and now this one. All of them well worth the effort. Of course for my son and husband, I will always make the classic Seville at the right time of the year: January, unless I have put some down for future use in the freezer.