In January and February the markets it Italy abound with citrus fruit driven up from Sicily and Puglia, and for me it is time to head to the market in our local town of Gubbio choose finest fruit and to get busy making marmalade.
Delicious unwaxed fragrant oranges and knobbly lemons were the fruit of choice for the last batch of marmalade. Into the kitchen, I must admit that citrus marmalade is not one of my favourites to make, it involves a long and tedious procedure but the final result is delicious and knowing it will be served and enjoyed on our breakfast table throughout this coming season makes the effort worthwhile.
The fruit washed, time to get the knife out, the zest needs to be pared from the fruit,
and then the juice squeezed. Then with a silver spoon pare the pulp from the bitter white pith, that is a really tedious job that does my hands no favours.
Put the zest, chopped pulp and the juice in the jam pan add a bit of water and turn on a low heat to soften the zest and reduce the liquid by one third. This takes two to three hours. To me this is the best few hours, the kitchen filled indeed exploding with heady perfume of fresh crisp fragrant oranges so redolent of the sunkissed fruit being tenderly plucked from ancient trees in rocky fruit groves overlooking the azure sea.
Then the sugar goes in,
and I stir madly to melt the sugar and combine with the orange mix. Once brought to the boil and incorporated I turn off the flame, cover and leave the mixture overnight. The following days jam jars and lids sterilising I add pectin. Strangely enough for a Brit used to making orange marmalade in the UK this is a heinous crime. We use ‘Seville’ oranges, those bitter tough oranges full of seeds but are just not available, they are Spanish not Italian so are not sold, which is why I use the fragrant ‘Tarocco’ oranges, but they have no pips so no natural pectin, so I have to add pectin. This to me is a cheat but without the addition the marmalade will not set, it will remain orange soup. Set to boil, a sweeter aroma filling the kitchen, before filling the sterlised jars, allowed to cool just a bit, with one very important extra ingredient, a good dollop of Whisky…
et voilà homemade whisky marmalade.
All that remains to do is to attach the labels, a new exciting design this year and still at the printers, and Scotch whisky orange marmalade is ready for serving at breakfasts here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, with smaller jars available for sale for you to enjoy back home. #eatbellaugello