Sailing from Seville…
When the days of late Winter and early Spring can be so fickle, promising sunshine and new shoots followed by dark days and hail, we have found the most perfect way of preserving happiness in a jar by bottling the citrus fruits of Sicily and Seville.
Be that simmering oranges for a year’s worth of marmalade or juicing lemons for a zesty curd, taking advantage of the bounty of these winter crops allows weeks and months of enjoyment as each mouthful brings a reminder of warmer climes.
Jams, chutneys and pickles embrace the seasons, but they also, in an elegant and entirely positive manner, defy them. They do so by stretching the bounty of more abundant months into the sparser ones.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage
We have been making orange marmalade here in England since the 17th century based on recipes passed down from Roman times. The firm bitter oranges of Seville are believed to make the best marmalade in the world due to their sharp flavour that complements the sugar and their high pectin content that guarantees the perfect set. However, don’t try to buy Seville oranges in Spain as they are all shipped over here!
The Seville orange season is really quite short, mainly the last few weeks of January, which is when we run our Toast and Marmalade Day, however, the same preserving principles can be applied to all citrus fruit allowing you to pick and choose your favourite fruit for your breakfast spread.
All things nice…
We all love a good marmalade, made just from oranges, sugar and the odd lemon, and an afternoon of chopping and bubbling can produce a whole year’s worth of golden goodness. However, adding in a few extra ingredients can create a very special treat.
Fortunately, as we make it in smaller batches due to the shorter shelf life, our wonderful Organic Lemon Curd is much quicker to make than a marmalade (which requires over an hour of fruit simmering before you get the chopping board out).
Using fresh eggs means that this preserve needs to be kept in the fridge and must be eaten within 2-3 weeks, the smaller batch size also helps with the self control as I recall a previous batch of curd, made with gooseberries and elderflower, which was polished off in one sitting along with a fresh loaf of home-made bread, and a couple of friends.
Making your own food brings a confidence that you can choose the best quality ingredients and that there’s no hidden nasties. We simply used all the goodies below; organic lemons, sugar and butter from our friends at Abel and Cole and eggs from the hens in the garden. The zest and juice of the lemons were added to a bowl of butter and sugar melting over a bain-marie and the eggs were whisked in . Very soon the mixture thickened to a glossy rich curd ready to pot into sterilised jars. Simply delicious!
- We had started to prepare the garden for spring, then cheeky Storm Doris ripped the poly sheet from our peach cover
- There’s additional dates for our new course Baking for Afternoon Tea, can you make Wednesday 5th April?
- Simply Sausages seems to be a very popular course this year, last week we tried including fresh ginger and Hen Corner honey with the free range pork – it was very nice!
Jobs for the Week:
- Prepare the bees for a new season by performing a ‘Shook Swarm’, this invovles shaking the whole colony of bees from their old frames onto new fresh frames in a clean hive. A very intensive spring clean
- Trim the lavender hedges and mow the lawn – we have our first Family Feathers & Fun! session on Saturday
- Grab sloes from the freezer to make a special liqueur for the Cultivate London Summer Solstice Party in June
Which are your favourite citrus fruits? Easy peeler mandarins or zingy limes in a spicy salsa?