Read our latest recipe in Sherborne Times pages 32-33
The marmalade season has begun! This timely arrival of Seville oranges and their bitter acidity is the perfect remedy to cut through the excesses of the festive season. There cannot be a more anticipated fruit that arrives on our shores. The Seville brings warmth and sunshine to our kitchen table. A fresh beginning as we anticipate the year ahead.
Personally I love the positivity and excitement as I select the very first fruit from the greengrocers shelf. It is reminiscent of welcoming back an old friend with your arms wide open and a smile on your face. Whilst relishing the opportunity to revisit all of our favourite recipes together.
Sevilles have a very short season from December until late February. They are widely used for making classic marmalade. Select firm fruit that are free from blemishes. Look for a bright orange skin that has a beautiful citrus aroma. Cut their tough skin in half and you should discover lots of pips. Whilst these bitter oranges are recognised as our favourite marmalade ingredient, celebrate their sharpness and use the juice to replace a squeeze of lemon while you can.
Preserve expert Vivien Lloyd advices that 1kg of fruit should yield 3kg of marmalade. (Meet Vivien at our farmhouse cookery school this February when she will teach you the skills of making this traditional preserve. www.allhallowsfarmhouse.co.uk)
Always use cane sugar to make marmalade and we select organic fruit from Ave Maria for the best results.
Sevilles don’t keep particularly well but you can freeze whole fruit to preserve throughout the year.
Give yourself plenty of time when preserving. It is not a process to be rushed but the stages can be spread over two days.
You cannot beat homemade marmalade spread thickly on toast but don’t just save it to start the day.
Add a generous tablespoon to your favourite gingerbread recipe.
Mix with a little orange juice and brandy as a quick sauce for duck or pancakes.
Spread a generous layer of homemade marmalade on the base of a pastry case. Top with egg custard and bake slowly until set for a rich dessert.
Mix with mustard and use to glaze a gammon ham.
Other seasonal treats ….
Sprout tops –
Shred finely, stir fry with lardoons of smoked bacon and serve with toasted pine nuts
Roughly chop and wilt in a saucepan with 3 tablespoons of water and 50g of melted butter. Cook over a high heat and continually toss the chopped leaves as they wilt. Drain, season and serve immediately.
Jerusalem artichokes –
Scrub well and slice into 1cm rounds, coat in olive oil and chopped rosemary. Roast until tender.
Serve as a puree with game or make into soup with homemade chicken stock.
Combine with sliced potato to make a gratin.