If you wander into a typical British supermarket looking for a jar of marmalade, it is unlikely that you will be disappointed. We love the stuff, so your only problem is going to be making a decision from the choices on offer. The majority of jars will be classic Seville orange marmalade, but even then you’ll have the choice between fine cut, thick cut or even peel free. Then you have variations on the orange theme, with added whisky or ginger, before moving on from oranges to the other citrus fruits.
I have never met a marmalade I didn’t like but if pressed for a favourite I think I would have to opt for Rose’s lemon and lime marmalade. The sharpness of the fruit really wakes up your tastebuds, especially on a cold winter’s day. It is fairly easy to find on this side of the Atlantic but I’ve always thought about having a go at making my own version and was finally inspired to do so by the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge, an excellent idea from Marisa of the Food in Jars blog: 12 monthly challenges throughout 2017, each one designed to improve a particular canning or preserving skill. January’s challenge is marmalade, so I had no excuse not to give it a try.
In looking for a recipe I was spoilt for choice. My well stocked shelf of preserving books offered many possibilities before I even ventured online. In the end I opted for one of my most used volumes, “The River Cottage Preserves Handbook” by Pam Corbin. As well as writing and appearing on TV, Pam used to own a preserves company and is a judge at the World Marmalade Awards, so is well qualified.
You can find a clip of her making Seville orange marmalade here.
I went with her whole fruit recipe but tweaked it a little, replacing some of the sugar with local honey. The whole fruit method is quicker and easier than the sliced fruit technique of marmalade making but can result in a less delicate and slightly more bitter final product. I made a few batches of this recipe, using different proportions of limes to lemons and was delighted with the final marmalade every time although I finally settled on a 50:50 ratio as my favourite. It sets well, and has a wonderful balance of sharpness from the fruit, sweetness from the sugar and honey, and a pleasant, slightly bitter, finish.
Lemon, Lime and Honey Marmalade
1lb fruit, preferably unwaxed (I went with approximately 50% limes / 50% lemons but you can tweak the ratio to your taste)
4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup honey
Scrub the fruit, place in a pan and add 6 cups (48fl.oz) water to cover. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the fruit is tender and the skin can be easily pierced with a fork (about an hour).
Remove from the heat and leave until the fruit is cool enough to handle. Make sure you keep the cooking water.
Slice the fruit in half and use a teaspoon to remove the pulp from the peel. Put the pulp in a sieve over a bowl, remove and discard any seeds but retain the pulp and juice.
Then slice the rinds to your desired thickness. I went for a fine shred, which is a little more time consuming but I simply prefer a finer shred in my final marmalade rather than thick chunks.
Put the sliced fruit, retained pulp and juice and 3 cups (24fl.oz) of the retained cooking liquid into a pan, and add the granulated sugar and honey. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to a rolling boil and boil rapidly until the setting point is reached. Between my different batches this took anywhere from 25-35 minutes, so it is best to check that you’ve achieved the setting point. Just to be on the safe side, I used two different tried and tested techniques to make sure. I used a thermometer to check when it had reached 220 degrees F, and then to be certain I did a “crinkle” test, dropping a little bit of marmalade onto a saucer that had been in the freezer for a few minutes. After letting it cool for a minute or so, if it crinkles when you push it with your fingertip, you are good to go.
Remove from the heat and leave for a couple of minutes. Stir gently to disperse any scum that has formed on the surface during the boiling.
Pour the marmalade into sterilised jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace and then process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes. If you need to know more about water bath canning there is a good introductory guide on the Ball canning website.
Yield: Five 8oz jars