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This is a bold claim, but I think (good) marmalade is better than Marmite. Less versatile, I admit. But so.so.so delicious. I had never made it before this weekend, having been put off by the thought of sterilising jam jars and bubbling vats of stickiness in my measly student kitchen. But my I was staying at my grandmother’s, and she thought that the time had come for me to take control of my life, grow up, and start preserving.

Making marmalade in my family has always been a girl’s thing, but unlike most family recipes, my mother, her three sisters and my grandmother each have their own version. As a result, the discussions on marmalade are ones of fraught tensions, torn loyalties and intense, heated and very serious competition (which mask some underlying bitchy girl problems). My aunts have all said to me before how laborious, time-consuming and backbreaking the task of making marmalade is. They make out that for a week in January, you can’t see in the kitchen for all the steam and sweat and tears and hormones etc etc.

Lies. Total subversive tactics. This is, I think, actually the easiest marmalade recipe around, if you have an afternoon to spare. Because you boil the fruit whole, you don’t need to bother with juicing the fruit or careful skinning and then chopping of unyielding peel…So, listen up ladies, I’ve got the knowledge now, and I’m entering the ring.

This recipe makes around 12 jars, but could easily be halved or doubled, and is perfect for presents. In the vein of one of my aunts, who in the past has made pots of Cotte Farmalade (after its birthplace) and Dramalade (tensions were sky-high that year), my batch was dubbed Good Karmalade, in the hope that with each pot I give away, some Good Karma would go with it. Naff? Definitely. But it’s dog eat dog in this culinary cockfight, and if I sacrifice a little dignity for the sake of a better pun than my aunt’s, so be it.

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You will need:

–       12 sterilised jam jars (put them in the dishwasher, then in the oven at 100° for half an hour or so)

–       Jam making packet thingy from the post office (waxed discs, cellophane tops, elastic band and labels)

–       A very big vat-like saucepan or preserving pan

Makes 12 pots

  • 3lbs Seville oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 6 pints water
  • 3lbs granulated sugar

1)    Put the oranges and lemons, whole, into your large pan and add the water

2)    Simmer until very soft, and you can easily poke a skewer in through the skin, probably about 2 or 3 hours

3)    Preserving the water, take the fruit out and chop them in half, scooping out the pips and putting them aside in a sieve. Chop up the flesh and rind, as thick or thin as you like it.

4)    Return the chopped fruit to the water, and squeeze as much goo and juice out of the pulpy, pippy mess through the sieve into the pan. There’s a lot of pectin in this stuff, which helps it set, so this is important.

5)    Add the sugar and bring it to the boil very slowly. When the sugar has dissolved, boil hard for about 15-30 minutes until it is beginning to set.

6)    Test it at this point – get a saucer and pour a big spoonful onto it. Leave it to cool for a little while. Run your finger through it, and if it crinkles on either side, you’re ready. If not, carry on boiling and test every ten minutes or so.

7)    Transfer to your sterilised jars. Cover the marmalade with the waxed discs. Wet the cellophane lids one by one with a little water using your fingers (it makes them shrink and tighten over the top), put them on the jars and secure with elastic bands.

8)    Pun away baby.

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