I was looking through my old recipe book, which I have had since around 1990, for keeping notes. This is my recipe for lemon curd. It is a very basic recipe. You can add the juice of other citrous fruit but actually, lemon is still the best.
Juice of 2 lemons
250g caster sugar
Beat the eggs
Put all the ingredients in a double pan (one pan sits on top of the other, boiling water in the bottom pan)
Heat very gently, stirring all the time, until the mixture is fully blended and becoming thick.
I have several recipe books devoted to preserving, jams and other such domestic creativity. This particular recipe for marmalade works well for me and for Mr B, who has very particular standards.
The marmalade should set well, be a pleasing colour, with good distribution of peel. The shreds of peel should be fine and short, about the thickness of a penny and maximum one centimetre long.
1 kg seville/marmalade oranges
2 kg jam sugar
2.5 litres of water
Wash the oranges, and put them in a large covered pan and simmer for around an hour and a half.
Remove the oranges from the liquid, and allow to cool.
Put around 8 clean jam-jars on a sheet in the oven at around 90C to warm and sterilise.
The messy bit; cut the oranges in half, and remove the pips. Scoop out the pulp and add to the pan.
To get a good set, put the pips in a small pan with some of the liquor and bring to the boil, and then strain this back into the big pan.
Next, cut the rind of three or four of the oranges into fine shreds. I do this by cutting the rind into 1cm wide strips, and then running a table knife along the inside of the peel to remove as much of the pith as possible. Then I chop into fine shreds, only adding the best ones to the pan. How much you add is a personal choice.
Start to bring the mixture to the boil, and add the sugar, stirring all the while.
Keep boiling until setting point is reached – around 222 (jam) on the thermometer. Use the wrinkle test and the flake test as well. Pour the marmalade into the warm jars, and leave to set.
A word about the flake test – this is my favourite method of checking that the jam or marmalade will set. I dip a spoon into the boiling jam and hold it horizontally. As the jam drips off the edge of the spoon, it will start to set, and the drips will start to join together, to form gelatinous webs.
I bought a mixed pack of grapes, and ended up with about half a pound of black grapes with a strange texture. Instead of ignoring them until we could throw them away, I made jam. I made it this way
200g black grapes
200g jam sugar
Put the grapes in a saucepan with half the lemon juice and put onto a low heat, and simmer until the grapes are soft
Put the fruit through a sieve to remove the skins and pips
Return the fruit to the pan with the rest of the lemon juice and the sugar.
Bring to a simmer until setting point is reached. I use a combination of a jam thermometer and the flake test to check for the setting point. For the flake test, I lift the stirring spoon out of the jam and see if the drips run together and partially set along the edge of the spoon.
Pour into a warm clean jar (this made only 1 jar of jam)
After Christmas, I have been taking stock of all our left-overs. We must have been expecting a frenzy of people wanting tangerines, gin & tonic, and fresh ginger.
I made this mixed fruit marmalade with all the citrus fruit. Still to work out what to do with a huge bag of fresh ginger.
Tangerines, Limes, Lemons, Oranges, Grapefruit, combined = 1.4 kg
1.4 kg jam sugar
2.8 litres of water
Peel the tangerines, and slice the peel into thin shreds. Put this in a wee muslin bag
Chop all the fruit up coarsely, with the peel on – slicing it works well.
Put the wee bag of peel and the fruit into a large pan with the water, and bring to the simmer, cook for 2 hours. Remove the wee muslin bag about half way through.
Strain the mixture through a jelly bag, and measure the juice – if it is more than 1.4 litres, put it into the jam pan and bring to the boil and reduce.
Add the sugar, dissolve it, and bring to the boil. I use a thermometer to get to jam temperature, then I hold the stirring spoon horizontally to see if the drips start to set and combine together (flake test)
Skim off any foam, add the shredded peel, and let the mixture start to cool. Pour into clean warmed jars. (I warm the clean jars in the oven).
This is a classic. I use a very old version from a book by Marguerite Patten; the book is priced 2/6! The jam is best with rhubarb cut late in the year. I have recently reviewed this alongside the ‘Maw Broon’s cookbook’ and updated it. As usual, most of the ingredients can be ethically sourced.
800g-1kg Rhubarb, locally grown
200g crystalised ginger
1kg jam sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Cut the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces, and cover with the sugar to stand overnight.
Chop the ginger finely and sprinkle into the sugar.
Cook slowly in a jam pan, until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the lemon juice and bring to the boil. Heat quickly until the jam is thick, and boil for about 15 minutes.
I got given some quinces so I had a stab at making quince marmalade. I added some essence of roses, and it was inspired. Thank you to Mrs Bird.
5 Quinces – each quince produces around 100g flesh
500g jam sugar
2 tbsp rose water
I wiped the fuzz off the quinces, put them in a pan and covered them in water, and simmered in a covered pan for an hour.
Once the quinces were tender, I cooled them, peeled and cored them and chopped the flesh up into small chunks.
I added the peel and cores to the remaining water and boiled this up with the zest of the lemon. The liquid started to change to a gentle light red.
I strained the liquid, and then added the rose water and lemon juice, and made the volume up to around 300ml
I put the chopped quince into the liquid, and started boiling, as the colour darkened I added the jam sugar, and boiled to setting point. (I used a jam thermometer, but I also used the cold plate technique)
I poured into clean jars that I had heated up in the oven.
The test on the spoon was wonderful, but the true test will be in the morning when I try it on toast.