Monday, 30 January 2012

Winter Heather and Bubbling Marmalade...

Heathers generally don’t do very well in my garden as they don’t seem to like all the rain soaked ground in the Winter. 

Personally, I’m not that much of a fan of all that continuous wet rain myself...

However, a couple of heathers that I’ve planted in a hanging basket a good few years ago, have thrived and flourished. Every year, at about this time, they have burst into some cheery colour.

This one was supposed to be a white heather when I bought it but when you look closely, it does actually have a rather attractive pink hue with a dark purple eye. I love the way the bright little flowers arch over and contrast against the tops of the dark, tall trees growing down below in the wood.

On the other side of the basket is a darker, more purple coloured heather which shows up well in front of the white wall behind.

I do apologise for the slightly out of focus photos. Unfortunately I was shivering so much I couldn’t keep the camera still-really must invest in a tripod!! 

It was so cold...

And then it started to snow...

Back indoors, I abandoned the plans I had to tidy up in the garden and retreated to the kitchen. Always a good place to be...

I had bought some seasonal Seville Oranges a few days previously, so needed no excuse to get out the large preserving pan and set to work to make some marmalade.

Seville Oranges are the oranges of choice for me in making marmalade. They are too bitter to eat normally but when made into marmalade they are sublime.

I love also the fact that they are only available for a very short period of time and thus we can capture a little bit of sunshine in these dark, cold, winter months.

I do think also, there is something special in having a bubbling pan of glistening orange marmalade gently boiling away and infusing the house with that heavenly scent of fruity oranges whilst outside all is crisp cold and snowy white.

I use a very simple recipe to make my marmalade so apologies to the purists. This is quick and so easy to make. Using jam or preserving sugar speeds up the process considerably.

 I added some Cointreau this year as I had a bottle that had been hanging around for a couple of years and just wanted to use it up and thought being an orange based liquor it would work well in the did...believe me!

Homemade Seville Orange Marmalade with Cointreau

This will make about 2kg of marmalade so you will need enough sterilised jars to cope!

500g whole Seville Oranges
2 litres of water
1.5g jam sugar
2 tbsp of Cointreau

In a large preserving pan, place the 2 litres of water and the whole Seville oranges. Cover and bring to the boil and then boil steadily for about two hours, turning occasionally so each side of the orange is gently cooked.

After two hours turn off the heat and allow to cool for about 15 minutes so you can handle the oranges.

Remove each orange in turn and place in a small bowl and cut into quarters. Carefully remove all the pips, any fibrous centre and core and discard. Then with your hands squeeze each quarter of the remaining orange to extract the juice and then with a sharp knife very, very finely slice the orange. How finely you slice the oranges obviously depends whether you prefer thick or thin cut marmalade. Personally I like my slices quite thin, 1-2cm long and 1-2mm wide. This will take a little time as you go through each orange but just relax and savour the wondrous aroma as you do this...

I find doing each orange in turn in a small bowl then returning it to the large preserving pan once sliced is easiest and stops escaping pips remaining in the pan.

Once all is sliced and returned to the pan with the cooking water, add the sugar and bring back to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, add the Cointreau and keep at a bubbling boil for 7-10 minutes. Do keep a careful watch and sir in case it bubbles over...

 Check if set by the usual jam method of placing a little on a damp plate previously placed in the freezer and seeing if the mixture wrinkles to the touch.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Add a knob of butter to dissolve any surface scum if required.
Carefully pour into the sterilised jars and when cool, cover and label.

Homemade marmalade is wonderful. Shop bought varieties just do not compare...

I do relish the opportunity to make my own marmalade each year and swap the spare jars with friends who have their own different and unique flavour combinations so we can enjoy our own and each other’s marmalades throughout the year.

As soon as my marmalade is done I can’t wait to taste it. I often dip some bread in to the remaining warm marmalade lurking in the preserving pan.

Homemade marmalade is a delight indeed. 

Slather your marmalade onto hot buttered toast for a sublime breakfast or for a quick tasty brunch, try spreading homemade marmalade on to a warm toasted bagel then generously topping with Philadelphia Cream Cheese-other makes of crème cheese are of course available...

A friend of mine adores marmalade and hot sausage sandwiches ...but we won’t go there...


  1. Some nice ideas here.... e.g. the Cointreau, and the slicing of the oranges when they are already cooked. We usually slice them when they are raw. But we agree on the main thing: home-made marmalade is tops. What about a sponge pudding with marmalade sauce?

    1. Oh yes! Sponge pudding with marmalade sauce and lashings of hot custard-yummy!!

  2. Wow I can almost smell the marmalade from here and it sounds so wonderful yum. Maybe I will just pop over for some toast and marmalade. lol To bad you live just a few thousand miles away....Very nice.

    1. Thank you Dusty.

      I too can smell the marmalade- but then I am having my breakfast with a slice or two of hot buttered toast and marmalade as I type!!

  3. I've never made orange marmalade. My husband loves it, so it is something I intend to make. Loving the Cointreau touch too.

    Just another question - what font are you using on your blog.

    1. Hi Shaheen,

      Many thanks for your comment. Do give the marmalade a go and the smell of oranges is lovely whilst its cooking. I’m not too sure whether I got the amount of Cointreau right as I had never added it before so just guessed on an amount but it seems to taste good!

      As far as the fonts are concerned, I do apologize as it seems to be a bit of a mixture on my blog at the moment! I didn’t like the very limited choices it gives when you set up a new post so I cut and paste from Word which is set to Papyrus on my PC-However the title of each post and the rest of the page seems to be Times New Roman and I can’t seem to alter that and ‘Green Dragonette’ itself and the replies are Cambria. I’ll keep tweaking as I learn what to do as I go along. Any advice or suggestions are gratefully received!!

    2. Thanks Green Dragonette,
      Mine is also set on Papyrus - as that is the style of my main header, so I was curious how you managed it on your blog and now I know - You do exactly the same as me cut and paste from word on the PC. There is not a papyrus option on blogger sadly. I've been blogging for a while, yet there is so much I have to learn. If you ever figure it out, please do share it will be appreciated.

    3. Thanks Shaheen. I always find your blog so comfortable to read as it is the font I like to use myself-it’s funny how a font can affect the pleasure you get from reading...However now worried that I’ve committed some breach of ‘blog etiquette’ by having the same font as someone else so I’ll look into changing it. Apologies!

    4. Oh please, please don't change it. That's not why I asked you, I only asked you as I thought you had figured out how to do it without the hassle of cut and paste. You haven't breached any blog etiquette. Blogging is a small world - there are going to be similarities and cross overs. Oh pretty, please don't - well not because of my blog x

    5. Hi Shaheen-thank you so much-I was worried that I had inadvertently done something wrong!! I’m so enjoying all of this now...

  4. What no overnight soaking - disgraceful! I am of course joking but intrigued with your method. I am a big marmalaide fan - I think my favourite is cumquat but I think the Cointreau would make this divine. On another topic entirely - I have widget on blog that shows the latest posts from various blogs on the side of mine. For some reason it picks up the updates on everyone's blogs except yours - yours is always showing as New Years Eve and so never appears on my screen as only those blogs with the most recent updates appear. I suspect its something to do with RSS feeds but I'm not techy enough to really know. I thought I'd tell you though.

  5. Hi Liz,

    Many thanks for your comment. This is a very easy method and I actually quite like squidging the warm cooked oranges between my fingers and chopping them up finely... I am intrigued too with your idea of cumquat marmalade!!

    Thanks also for letting me know about the updates. I’ve altered the settings and hope that will help though it says there can be a delay until the changes take effect. Do let me know if it works-or doesn’t...Now I’m going to see if I can manage to add that widget to my blog-fingers crossed...


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