Ode: To Making Marmalade /by Rena Minkoff

Watch and hear the golden ringlets of zest drop almost soundlessly into the base of the biggest pan in the kitchen. Like the curls of a lawyer’s wig they pile up as they peel way from the blade. Then dispose the alliterative pith, pips, and peel that contain the pectin into the strong little cloth bag.  Cut up the crimson grapefruit, the golden oranges, the scented green lime, and add them to the pan together with the bag.

Cover it all generously with water, and set the pan to boil and boil until a piece of the pith will disintegrate when rubbed between two fingers. Stir from time to time with a wooden spoon, and watch the clumps of fruit, like eel-grass, rise to the surface and then plunge down again. Add water if the mass looks dry (and it will), and turn off the heat when it’s done.

Now go and do the shopping, or read a book, or fold the laundry – or even sit and enjoy your leisure, or get a good night’s sleep. The air will be heavy with the strong smell of citrus juice and the elusive perfume of the lime.

Squeeze and rinse the bag. It coils and twists and bulges round itself like (I imagine) a small fat anaconda, while the pectin oozes out cloudily into the fruit, and the contents of the bag become compacted. Your wrists will ache. Now is the time to sterilize your jam-pots, so fill them carefully and slowly with boiling water, empty them, and then upturn them on a towel to dry.

Pour in the sugar. Its white point will rise above the shining mass like Mount Fuji above its lake. Gradually heat all to a rolling, roiling, translucent, bubbling, frothing boil, and stir from time to time. O glory! Fifteen minutes should suffice. On the side of your wooden spoon two drops will run together and hang – Siamese twins, lovers who have been too long apart – quivering, but not falling; and the back of the spoon will be coated with gleaming, golden, edible, delicious treasure.

3 fruit Marmalade

2 Oranges

1 Grapefruit (I like to use the red ones)

2 Lemons

2 litres water

1½ kg. sugar

Shred rinds (a zester is good). Remove pith and pips and place in a muslin bag. Cut up fruit. Place in pan with 2 litres water and soak overnight. Then simmer for 1½-2 hours till soft. Remove bag and squeeze out all the liquid into the saucepan. Add sugar and heat slowly, stirring from time to time until sugar dissolves. Then boil quickly to setting point, about 15-25 minutes. Test for setting by dropping a little onto a cold plate – if a clear path is left when you push a finger through the middle, the marmalade is ready.

Rinse jam-jars with boiling water and then dry them. Before filling, stir the marmalade so that the peel is distributed evenly.

This should make about 4+ pots of marmalade.