It is probably no surprise that I don’t love winter, given that I grew up in a place famous for its sunsets and beaches. Frankly, I am too lazy to dress for winter, prefering summer dresses and sandals to boots and sweaters. I also love summer stone fruits (peaches, apricots, nectarines) and berries, and can’t eat enough of them when they’re in season. The gloomy days and cold nights make me a bit lethargic and achy but the one thing that I DO love about winter is the amazing array of citrus that is ripe and on offer. I honestly think that citrus fruits, packed with Vitamin C, are nature’s way of providing foods that will protect us from colds during the wet and nasty flu season.
In my kitchen right now are no less than seven types of citrus fruits and because I thought they were so beautiful, I had to take a photo of them together!
My good friends gave me huge bags of home-grown oranges and lemons. I LOVE Meyer lemons – so sweet you can almost eat them like an orange. These are so huge that they look like they’re on steroids, and will make a beautiful lemon curd (when I get around to it). The Seville oranges in the middle foreground were purchased at my local Adelaide Showground Farmer’s Market. Seville oranges are not as common in the markets here as they are in Europe but many marmalade enthusiasts only use Seville oranges to get that traditional bitter marmalade flavour. My husband likes bitter marmalade and I prefer it less bitter so we decided on a happy medium – use Seville oranges but remove excess white pith to prevent it from being extra bitter.
Winter is a great time for making jam because a) it’s miserable and wet outside, b) cooking heats up the house. We spent last Sunday peeling, slicing and simmering marmalade all day. 2 kilos of fruit didn’t look like much, but it made a lot more jars of jam than we realised and as usual, I started giving them away to friends. Among my neighbours, we all make jams and preserves so my pantry is filled with homemade jars of goodies.
There are literally hundreds of recipes for making citrus marmalade (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, pomelo) and everyone will make it a different way which is why I will not post a recipe here, but this link is a good standard recipe. My husband remembers his mother cooking the oranges whole before slicing them when making marmalade, while I like peeling and slicing the peel separately from the fruit. Instead of juicing the oranges, I like chopping the pulp up and cooking it down. I don’t think any one way is the best way – as long as it turns out well in the end. Do remember to keep the seeds (pips) and place them in a muslin (cheesecloth) bag and boil it together with the rest of the mixture to add pectin to help the jam set.
I do have something I’d like to share though – a knife designed for citrus that I bought it over a decade ago at Lakeland in the UK but I don’t see it in their catalog anymore. What’s great is that the blade is both smooth and serrated and the other side can be used to score the skin to make it easier to peel. I know that there are all kinds of gadgets that also score citrus fruit for ease of peeling but I still love this knife: