How I imagine the conversation went:
“You know the one I mean, the foreigner”
“Who? The German?”
“I don’t think she’s German”
“She must be – blue eyes, blonde hair – speaks Spanish with a weird accent”
“Always has that stupid grin on her face”
“Oh! Her! – I know the one you mean: La Señora de las Mermeladas“
‘Dr.Watson’ – Well, it is a lemon tree
Long story short, I’m getting quite a reputation around the village and (for once) it’s the kind of reputation that I’m proud of. I quite often get stopped on my weekly shopping trip and questioned about the jams and marmalades that I make. The people who stop me want to know how I make them taste so different to the shop-bought ones.
The British associate the word marmalade with oranges (and other citrus fruits) although its origins are derived from the quince – membrillo in Spanish – (the same genus as apple & pear) whereas Mermelada is the Spanish word for jam – and for marmalade – there is no distinction between the two. There are many varieties of orange, so, not wishing to contravene any PDO (DO in Spain) I shall not be referring to my marmalades as any kind of ‘Seville’ Orange this-or-that. They shall be known as ‘The Smooth One’, ‘The Stringy One’ and ‘The Lumpy One’. Here is the recipe for The Smooth One (click on the names of the other ones to go to that page)
The Smooth One
900g (2lb) oranges, washed
Juice of 2 lemons
2 litres (3.5 pints) Water
1.4kg (3lb) sugar
What You Will Need:
Preserving pan (or very large saucepan), wooden spoon, muslin cloth/jelly bag (or tea towel), upturned stool (or, in my case, a plant pot holder), spoons, jars, time and a little patience.
Cut the oranges into small chunks (about 2.5cm/1 inch) and put in the preserving pan with the lemon juice and 1.4 litres (2.5 pints) of the water.
Cover & simmer for about two hours – until the fruit is really soft.
Remove from the heat and pour the contents of the pan into the jelly bag (or whatever you have!) attached to an upturned stool (or plant pot holder).
Leave to drip into a large bowl for 15 minutes.
Return the pulp remaining in the bag to the pan with the remaining 600ml (1 pint) of water. Return the pan to the heat and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and pour into the jelly bag. Leave to drip for several (3-4) hours.
Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved.
Boil rapidly for 15 minutes – take care, it may ‘spit’.
Test for a set (How to test for a set: at the same time as you begin cooking the fruit, place three or four saucers in the freezing compartment of the fridge. When you have boiled the jam for the given time, remove the pan from the heat and place a teaspoonful of the jam on to one of the chilled saucers. Let it cool back in the fridge, then push it with your finger: if a crinkly skin has formed on the jam, then it has set. It if hasn’t, continue to boil for another 5 minutes, then do another test. – Thanks Delia!)
When setting point is reached, take the pan off the heat and remove any scum with a slotted spoon.
Leave the mixture to stand for about 15 minutes.
Pot and seal.
This recipe works just as well using lemons, if you’d prefer, or a mixture of the two fruits. I also throw in a peeled, bruised chunk (2.5 oz/70g) of root ginger – just to give it a bit of a ‘kick’!
So that’s it! That’s how I make mine. Maybe the difference in taste is the lack of colourings and other added ingredients? I suppose I should give those ladies in the village a jar or two – just to make sure that they’re calling me Lady Marmalade for the right reason!
This recipe has been adapted from The Good Housekeeping Cookery Book.
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All photos & text © Sue Sharpe 2014