During winter you can see the orange trees lining various streets in Barcelona bursting with decorative fruit. I know they are decorative, because during our first few weeks in Barcelona, while exploring the Hospital Sant Pau, Milos tried to eat one. Horrid and inedible. It was only recently that I found out that these oranges are in fact perfect for making jam or marmalade, and are actually Seville Orange trees.
I have seen my Mom making jam before, although I never paid much attention to the whole process. But I have found for some reason, perhaps because of my lack of garden in Barcelona, a need to make food out the various fruits found in parks of Barcelona. Don’t worry I haven’t turned into a “prepper” and am not eating roadkill or anything! Yikes!
( Although every time I see the Magpies flying around, I do wonder about pies, and making Mag-pies. It’s ok, I’ll wait for the Zombie Apocalypse before I try that! It’s also possible that I have been watching too many of the sensational documentaries broadcast on National Geographic taking advantage of the end of the world hype… but I digress)
I have successfully made preserved figs from fruits collected on Montjuic, and am in the process of trying to cure a jar of self picked Olives from a tree on Milos parents terrace. So I was pretty excited to come across a fallen branch of Oranges on my way to work, and felt that I may as well try my hand at marmalade.
I did some research, and it turns out that making marmalade is a rather involved process that requires all sorts of equipment. You know, thermometers, and muslin bags. I really just wanted to get stuck in, so I googled muslin bag alternatives, “forgot” about the thermometer and got to work on cutting up my oranges.
The most important part to making jam or marmalade is to get it to set! You need to either buy Pectin or make it yourself. I opted for the latter, as trying to figure out where to buy pectin in Barcelona did not sound fun, I still struggle to find Peanut Butter on a good day! Lemons pith, pips and the pips and pith from the street oranges I chopped up should have made enough pectin on their own, and I dutifully followed the recipe, separating them and boiling them in a bit of pillow case (my muslin bag).
Unfortunately the thermometer turned out to be instrumental in the creation of jam, and this is where, as a newbie marmalade maker, I messed up. You have to get the jam to boil to a specific temperature, with probably the right amount of pectin, for it to set. I’m guessing eventually you can do this without a temperature gauge, but on a first attempt I ended up with about 6 jars of marmalade syrup instead of jam. It almost set, and so I’m confident I’ll get it right eventually. There are apparently ways to reset the marmalade, and I may just buy a thermometer and try again. Otherwise for now, there are plenty of delicious cakes, breads and puddings that marmalade syrup would be a perfect ingredient to add a citrus flavour.
I can report that my syrup tastes amazing! And next winter I shall be sneaking about the streets harvesting the oranges!
I followed this recipe, which I think is very good, its simple and easy to follow, my only advice: Get a Thermometer before you start!