Clementine marmalade, and what to do with it

Some mornings jam just won’t do, and marmalade is the only answer. Generally I’m a porridge-for-breakfast kind of person, and try to resist a spoonful of jam on that in the name of healthy eating (I’m sure home-made jam is better for you – but having seen how much sugar I put in it, I’m reluctant to eat too much of it!). But when it’s toast, it has to be marmalade.

Apparently, the name marmalade originates from the Portuguese for quince, ‘marmelo’, and while I have never used quince in my marmalade, I have used a lot of other fruits and surprisingly few oranges. Of course there’s the classic Seville orange marmalade, but I find my cravings for hot toast with lashings of butter and marmalade sets in with the cold weather in autumn, and I just can’t wait for the Seville season to start in January. And no, I never seem to make enough to last a year.

So, in the past I have made a Windfall Marmalade. From the Good Housekeeping Guide to Home Preserving, it uses windfall apples with grapefruit for the citrus kick. This is excellent. So good in fact most people are surprised when I tell them it isn’t made from oranges. But this year I capitalised on the buy-one-get-one-free offers on clementines to make marmalade from them instead.

I took the recipe from Pam the Jam’s River Cottage Handbook: Preserving. For 6 half-pound jars, you need a kilo of fruit and two of sugar, plus 75ml lemon juice. Demerara sugar is specified, but I felt too much of that might overwhelm the more delicate flavour of the clementines, so opted for a kilo each of demerara and plain old granulated.

Following the sliced fruit method, the fruit is juiced and the peel then sliced (as thickly or thinly as you like). Soak the peel in the juice and 2.5 litres of water overnight/for up to 24 hours. Then simmer in a large pan for a couple of hours, until the peel is tender and the liquid has reduced by a third. Add the sugar and lemon juice, and stir to dissolve. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly until it reaches setting point. Pot up in warm, sterilised jars and slather on hot buttered toast!

It’s a lighter, less bitter, marmalade than the usual orange, and has a lovely fragrance. Other than on toast, in porridge and perhaps in a cake or two, I use marmalade to make biscuits I call Paddingtons. Inspired by something I had from a biscuit shop in Rome, they are two rectangular basic butter biscuits, sandwiched together with marmalade (hence the name), and half-dipped in chocolate. A delicious alternative to a chocolate orange at Christmas!

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