Marmalade Making in Mistley
Introducing marmalade making in Mistley, and other suitably English adventures.
Despite its fairytale-like name, the tiny town of Mistley does exist in real life. At only an hour’s train ride from London - on which you will pleasantly note how quickly the city gives way to green countryside - it happens upon you like a nice surprise. After a quick change at Manningtree, you will arrive in the riverside town greeted by the heady sweet smell of the nearby malt mill.
With its award-winning kitchen, The Mistley Thorn is the place to call home for the night. The cosy wood-panelled rooms come stocked with plenty of buttery, handmade shortbread. And I’ll happily attest that pan-fried cod with creamy leeks and bacon was the best fish I have had in the UK.
But our occasion was not solely one of ambling up to bed after a generous helping of cantucinni biscuits and vinsanto. With some out-of-town colleagues braving Britain’s January weather for the week, we opted to treat them (and ourselves) to an afternoon making marmalade by the seaside at The Mistley Kitchen next door.
Given that our little London kitchen would struggle to accommodate the large saucepan required for marmalade, I’ve been quite happy keeping the fridge stocked with a supply from Darkest Peru. But with dreams of one day living somewhere with the odd orange tree or three, I studiously scribbled down notes during our marmalade making class, probably asking a few too many questions.
During the class we learned both the whole fruit method and the sliced fruit method - the latter method taking longer. As I’m a fan of an optimised effort to output recipe, I’ve shared the former below. The whole fruit method results in a darker and slightly more caramelised marmalade than sliced fruit, so it wins all round in my books.
WHAT YOU NEED
10 empty jam jars & lids. These can be sterilised in a dishwasher at 60 degrees, or put them on a tray in the oven at 80 degrees for about 20 minutes.
A very large/preserving saucepan, with a thick base.
A large ladle.
(makes approximately 10 jars)
1 kg Seville oranges
75ml lemon juice
1. Scrub the oranges and take out the dried part of the stem.
2. Place the oranges in the saucepan with 2.5 litres of water.
3. Cover and bring to the boil, simmering for at least 2 hours, until you can pierce the rind with a fork. The oranges will look deflated and feel almost liquified on the inside. Leave to cool.
Remove the oranges, and measure out 1.7 litres of the liquid left in the pan - if more than this is left, reduce the liquid.
Cut the oranges in half, juice them, and remove the pips and remaining flesh. Add the juice to the cooking water, and discard the pips and flesh. Keep the peel.
Slice the peel into fine slices, depending on preference. Add to the cooking liquid with the lemon juice and sugar. Note: the peel won’t soften further once you add sugar to the water. The lemon juice contains pectin, which is a natural gelling agent. Bring to the boil until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to a rolling boil for 10-15 minutes or till the mixture reaches setting point. You can tell whether it has by two methods - the first, with a thermometer which has a jam measurement on it. Always take the pan off the heat when taking the temperature.
Alternatively, place a plate in the freezer for about 30 minutes. When you think the mixture might be ready, drop a small piece of the jam on the plate and leave it for about 10 seconds. If you lightly scrape along the top of the drop with your finger, the mixture should resist and ripple slightly. If it gives way completely, it needs longer. Once cooked, take it off the heat and leave it to rest for about 10 minutes, so that the fruit doesn’t sink.
Pour the mixture into sterilised jars, and cover quickly so as to not let much air and bacteria in. The jars will keep unopened for two years. Once opened, keep the marmalade in the fridge and consume within six weeks. Best served with toasted crumpets and melted butter.
With Love, Kate