Marathon Marmalade

Last weekend I took a drive 3 1/2 hours north of Melbourne, to the delightful town of Myrtleford. I was lured by the offer of free blood oranges as well as the opportunity to visit my de-facto cousin-in -law and her family. My kids got to spend the weekend with their cousins and I got free fruit. It was a win win all round. Plus I got to try my hand at buttermaking at The Butter Factory.
The Butter Factory is run by Naomi Ingleton, where she has been making beautiful cultured butter for almost two years now.

Blood oranges

Blood oranges in the pot

There was reason for my mad dash northwards, Blood Orange Marmalade. The assessment task for Gateaux (one of the units in the Patisserie course I am doing at the moment), is to make and present a Gateau. The one I have decided to make will have a blood orange marscapone mousse layer in it. I have tried in the past to buy Blood Orange Marmalade, with no success. The solution to this problem? Make my own!

Back home I looked around for a recipe for Blood Orange marmalade, and found one for Sicilian Blood Orange Marmalade that sounded like fun to make. I never seem to be able to follow a recipe exactly, though. I used 3 kilos of oranges, which barely made a dent in the box! As the recipe said, I used a fork to prick my oranges all over. Then I soaked them in a bucket of water for 4 days, changing the water every day. It may sound like a lot of work but it only took a minute to pour off the water and refill the bucket. At the end of 4 days I chopped the oranges, quite roughly, because precision cutting is not one of my strengths. I also recommend using a really sharp knife, as those orange skins are quite tough.

I had started cutting at about 10 pm. I’m a late night cook. With three small kids I don’t always get around to doing the things I want at a reasonable hour. My youngest decided to wake up in the middle of my chopping and would not go back to bed without me. He is three and still co-sleeps in the bed with my partner and I. With my partner overseas, it was up to me to get him back to sleep. After a few failed attempts at returning the youngster to bed I gave up and explained that I wouldn’t be going to bed until my oranges were chopped. He sat down on the kitchen stool to watch and wait.

With lots of interruptions, I finally finished cutting the fruit at about 11:30 pm. The recipe said to add the sugar and cook until it was dissolved then cool and leave over night. I knew I was pushing my luck with my little helper, so decide to stir in the sugar, cover the pan and leave it until morning, effectively macerating the fruit. I have done this in the past with apricot jam, so why not marmalade?

In the morning, whilst eating breakfast, I stirred the fruit and sugar over a low heat until dissolved, then turned it off to cool, while I dropped my eldest son at school. Upon my return back home I brought the fruit and sugar to the boil and simmered until it gelled.

The bottled results of my marathon efforts are cooling on the bench behind me, with the seals on the jars “popping” in a most satisfying way as I type this.  It is only now that I realise, I forgot to put the lemon juice in! Told you I can never seem to follow a recipe…

PS. As this is my first ever blog post, I’d really appreciate any constructive feedback on my writing style, content etc.  Just be kind please!

Sicilian Blood Orange Marmalade

The finished product freshly bottled and awaiting labelling.

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