Friday, 21 January 2011

I blame Nigel Slater.

He said it was worth it. Nigel.

I am making marmalade with Seville oranges and other citrus fruits (which lurked in the fruit bowl). There are some red grapefruit which I had vowed to eat for breakfast when I started the Diet 2011 but never got round to. Diet and grapefruit both ignored.

Nigel Slater made it sound a joy. So joyful, in fact, that I would swan around an immaculate kitchen wearing a freshly laundered Cath Kidston apron. The sun would be shining and small bluebirds would sing at the window.

The reality was a faff.

Like Nigel Slater, I too had removed some of the skin from the top of my fingers - occupational hazard - and felt the acidity of every single orange squeezed by hand into the big pot.
A few more chunks of finger were added during the 'slice the peel thinly' stage and the threat of a coma set in having to stand and slice carefully. That bit took ages.

The Seville oranges did not go far so a broth of the satsumas left over from Christmas got lobbed in as did the blood grapefruit and some lemons. It was becoming a symphony in citrus.
Then they all had to simmer for a looong time....

So long that I forgot about the marmalade.
It was taken off the stove and allowed to sulk whilst we got on with other things outside.
I remembered about it this morning so it has been strained and is now cooking.

Nigel Slater enthuses about the lovely smell. Well, it is having to compete with the pungent smell of silage, burnt toast, something mysterious which is vile but I can't find behind the cooker and under the window....something dead perhaps, rodenty and dead. Nigel won't have festering rodents behind his skirting boards.
Nigel does not have to drop everything and chase rogue sheep out of the front field.

In a few hours time we will have enough marmalade to fend off scurvy all winter plus enough left over to supply the entire British Navy. I am incapable of making small batches of preserve and we have cupboards full jams, conserves and forgotten label-fell-off things.

Next year I shall buy marmalade whereby someone else has shredded the peel, depithed the pith, tied muslin around the pips and aged visibly during the process. I shall eat thick slabs of unburned toast with dollops of bought marmalade of top. Bluebirds will sing at the window and the festering rodent will have turned to dust and no longer smell.

I better go and keep an eye on it like an acid fruit witch, stirring the cauldron whilst muttering incantations and trying to remember the shopping list. Seven kilos of marmalade toffee would be vexing.

Fanny Craddock would have made Johnny do it.

I shall hold on to that thought....

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