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Citrus Season! Bitter Orange and Cardamom Marmalade

It’s mid-March, it’s raining, so what better time to prepare my last batch of marmalade for 2021 using the remaining bitter oranges on our wild turunç tree. Any oranges can be used, but turunç are terribly bitter, so very much suited to marmalading. Cardamom is optional, and granted it ain't at all Mediterranean, but I've a special place in my heart for South India having lived there in the past, plus I've a pot of pods in the cupboard which need using up. Akin to a trip to Kerala, this recipe is a senses-awaking fusion of two places I've been lucky to call 'home'.

**Top tip: try adding a good tablespoon of marmalade to a basic stir fry (along with the usual components of garlic, ginger, lemongrass and soy sauce).


1.5kg turunç oranges

350g lemons

1400ml water

22 cardamom pods

1.65kg sugar

Cheesecloth and cotton twine

An assortment of jars (I usually fill 3 large 600ml jars for keeping, then a few smaller size jars for giving to friends, better to sterilise an assortment then you can decide which to fill during pouring).

Preparing the Fruit

Prepare the oranges and lemons the day before you plan to cook. The chopping can take over an hour. Try to find it meditative!

1. Wash the oranges & lemons and pat dry.

2. Cut the fruit into very fine pieces, the finer and smaller, the better. Be sure to poke out all the seeds, keeping them in a bowl which can be stored overnight in the fridge. (It’s all a bit fiddly, but worth it). All the fruit pieces and any juice scraped off the chopping board, should be placed in a large pan.

3. Pour the 1400ml of water over the fruit pieces, cover, and leave overnight.

The Next Day

1. Bring the pan containing all the fruit and water to the boil, then reduce the heat to halfway and cook for 30 mins.

2. Meanwhile make a small pouch with your cheesecloth, tied tightly with cotton twine, for all your citrus seeds. I also like to collect any extra seeds from the juicing machine over the 2 previous days, to bump up the pectin supplies.

3. Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and crush with a pestle and mortar.

3. After the fruit and water has been boiling (without splattering) for 30 mins, add the sugar, cardamom and seed pouch to the pan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, and cook on a steady boil for another 45 mins, stirring occasionally. (At 40 minutes place 2 saucers in the freezer to be used for gel testing).

4. During this cooking time you can sterilise your jars. Wash with hot, soapy water, and whilst still damp, place in a low-temperature preheated oven for ten minutes. Try to coincide the jar sterilisation process with the end of the marmalade cooking, therefore your marmalade can be poured into hot jars.

6. After around 45 minutes, perform a saucer test with your marmalade; spoon a little amount of the preserve on the cold saucer, return to the freezer for 2 minutes, then check with a finger to see if it wrinkles and feels gel-like (finger licking is permitted at this point!). If the marmalade still seems watery, cook for a further 5-10 minutes before performing another saucer test.

7. When the marmalade has gelled, gently squeeze the seed pouch against the side of the pan using a wooden spoon, then remove the pouch. Then using a ladle and metal funnel, or even a metal jug, fill your hot jars, giving them a little shake before closing tightly and wiping.

There will always be a couple of spoons left over that don't fit in the jars. This is where one's mouth comes in handy ;-)


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