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Living in a country where tomatoes, strawberries and, to be honest, most other fruit and vegetables are available year round, isn’t it nice to still have some seasonality in our food?

Marmalade time has arrived.  There are very few foods that are genuinely available for only a short time each year.  Seville oranges are one of them.  And, in my view, one that deserves to be made the most of – the opportunity to buy these beautiful orange globes and turn them into jars of delicious marmalade needs to be seized.

On a trip to our local market I soon found the oranges in needed, and was all set for an afternoon in the kitchen.  While I was shopping a basket of blood oranges also caught my eye.  So I arrived home with a bag of those too, perfect for making a moist orange polenta cake.

The marmalade recipe that I’ve been using for some years now was given to me by a friend, and is a wonderful combination of oranges, lemons and ginger.  The smell of the fruit as it simmers gently for an hour or so, fills the kitchen with a tangy warmth, raising the anticipation of the bitter-sweet marmalade to follow.

Once the fruit is cooked, I add sugar and syrupy stem ginger to the mix, and then the serious boiling begins.  There’s a stack of saucers chilling in the fridge ready to test for a set.  I’ve never yet got it right first time, maybe I’m just too impatient, but eventually the spoonful of sticky amber liquid wrinkles and the setting point is reached.  Now comes the messy part, pouring the warm, gloopy marmalade into jars ready to be sealed and labelled.

The key thing now is to have a slice of home made bread ready to toast and spread with butter and the freshly-made marmalade.  Well, you have to just check that it tastes as good as it looks, don’t you?

Ginger orange marmalade

750g Seville oranges

500g unwaxed lemons

25g root ginger, peeled and chopped

31/2l water

23/4kg sugar

225g stem ginger, chopped finely

Wash the oranges and lemons before cutting them in half.  Squeeze the juice and put it in a large pan.  Save the pips, tie them in a piece of muslin with the root ginger and add to the pan.  Then slice the orange a lemon peel into shreds, not too thick but you can pretty much decide how thinly sliced you like it.  You don’t need to remove the pith from the peel, just chop everything up and add it to the pan.

Add the water to the pan and bring the whole lot to the boil.  Turn down the heat and let it simmer gently for about 11/2 hours, until the peel is very soft.  Once the peel is cooked, remove the muslin bag containing the pips and ginger – hold it over the pan and squeeze it gently to return the juices to the marmalade.

Now add the sugar and the chopped stem ginger (I also added the syrup from the jar of stem ginger to give a bit of extra gingery sweetness).  Stir gently over a low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then boil rapidly until the setting point is reached.

Scoop off any scum that has formed, or stir in a small knob of butter to disperse the scum.  Allow to cool slightly before ladling the marmalade into sterilized jars.  Cover, label and enjoy!

Makes about 41/2kg, roughly 10 assorted recycled jam jars.

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