I know I’m not the only one obsessed with Lakeland – I have a very good male friend who spends money there like a child in a sweet shop and I know I’m just the same. As soon as their catalogue drops on my mat you can rest assured that within half an hour I’m on the website ordering items. I may have a kitchen full of gadgets but they’re useful ones – I’ve learnt costly lessons over the years – I dread to think about the must have kitchen appliances I’ve bought only to see them in the back of my boot on a Sunday morning going for a song! So, I don’t have a Maslin pan, or a jam funnel, a jam thermometer or even muslin drainage bags and after this morning – unless you’re making preserves or chutneys on a small scale regularly I don’t think you need them either.
Which brings me nicely on to why I’m writing this blog today.
I’ve always fancied making marmalade and of course it was Radio Four’s Food Programme which got me thinking about it. I’ve never had a go – not even in Home Economics – maybe it was all that hot sugar and teenage girls whipping each other with tea towels that put Mrs Anton off. She found it difficult enough to control the diminishing catering block of cooking chocolate every time our class entered her hallowed pantry, let alone look after 12 girls and a pan full of molten granulated.
Lakeland make it incredibly easy to make marmalade – they sell the prepared oranges £2.25 and 1/2 litre preserving jars £15.99 – everything I discovered this morning you need to make the stuff. So, I ordered a tin, six ‘Le Parfait’ jars and forgot the wax discs – it would seem there’s no one who makes waxed discs large enough for these jars. After digging about on various forums it would seem people who have not used discs have been fine with marmalade if the seal is tight on the jar – these are brand new so I am going to give it a go. But I digress. I made my marmalade in my slow cooker and I didn’t cook the stuff for hours on end. Well I haven’t actually got a traditional slow cooker – I’ve got a Tefal Rice Cooker and very good it is too. This has got to be the simplest recipe ever and the glorious scent that filled the house actually transported me back to Seville when their trees are in full blossom – around Easter time and during Saints Week.
After a bit of digging it would seem Waitrose and Tesco also sell ready-prepared oranges so keep an eye out there too. Lakeland is expensive postage-wise if you can’t find a voucher offer or have a store near your home.
1 can of Homecook (or other brand) 850g /1lb 4oz ready prepared Seville oranges
1800g/4lbs granulated sugar
425ml/3/4 pint of water
5 litre capacity saucepan
I used 4 1/2 litre Le Parfait jars and they’re filled with no wastage.
Wash the jars in hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly and put into an oven at 140 degrees to dry out.
Put the sugar and oranges in the cooker. I put mine on ‘steam cooking’ function which got the sugar to boiling point
Put a saucer in your freezer compartment.
Keep the sugar on a rolling boil for twenty minutes stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Take the jars out of the oven.
Take the saucer out of the freezer.
Drop a little of the sugar and orange mix on the plate – when it congeals the marmalade has reached the setting point. If it doesn’t, continue boiling and try again in three minute intervals. The instructions on the side of the can suggested a knob of butter to take down the foam build-up. I didn’t bother and it didn’t affect anything.
Once you’ve reached the right consistency turn off the heat and allow to stand for 5-10 minutes and ladle into the sterilised jars. Seal immediately. If you find waxed discs large enough I’d use them – put shiny side down.
Now I have to wait to taste the fruits of my labour. I’m off to Lavellis (a brilliant local bakery) to buy some crusty white bread.