One of the strangest things about English people is what we eat for breakfast. Some people have a cooked breakfast, with bacon and eggs and sausages. But most people are far too busy to cook things for breakfast. So they have a nice cup of tea or coffee, and toast, spread with marmalade. Marmalade is a type of jam, made out of oranges. Not ordinary oranges – they are too sweet – but very bitter oranges which are grown near Seville in Spain. These oranges are picked in January, and nearly all of them are exported to Britain to make into marmalade.
You can of course buy marmalade in a supermarket. But shop-bought marmalade is poor stuff. It contains too much sugar and not enough oranges. (My grandmother used to say that shop marmalade was made with potatoes!) No, if you want proper marmalade, you have to make it yourself at home.
The last two weeks in January is marmalade time. It is cold outside. Perhaps a few snowflakes are falling. But inside, the kitchen is warm and a delicious smell of oranges fills the house. So how do we make marmalade? The ingredients are simple – Seville oranges, a lemon, sugar and water. We chop the oranges and the lemon finely, including the peel. We add the water, and bring it to the boil. We boil the mixture until the oranges are cooked, then we add the sugar and continue boiling until the marmalade begins to set (ie until it starts to form a jelly). Then we put the marmalade into glass jars, and put a pretty label on each jar saying “marmalade”. You can store marmalade for a year or even longer until you need it. A jar of home-made marmalade makes a lovely present to give to friends or relatives.
Sarah Franklin has taken some wonderful photographs of making marmalade. On her flickr page she has included her recipe, so – if you can find any Seville oranges – you can have a go yourself. For myself, I have another 10 kilos of marmalade to make before the next podcast.