Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lady Marmalade

I met Lady Marmalade!  I did, and she is right here in Oxford!

She lives in this beautiful home and has a gorgeous garden that I can't wait to see in full bloom when spring finally shows back up!

This is so hard to see, but I wanted to show you the archway in the hedge that leads to her front English!
"Lady Marmalade" is actually my new friend, Jennie, and she is everything you would expect from a proper English lady.  She is one of the dear ladies that organize the Newcomer's Club that I enjoy so much.

Jennie invited me and my friend, Claire, into her home last week to make marmalade.  Marmalade is like a jam or jelly but is only made with citrus fruit.  It is quite a process and it took us all morning to produce about 15 jars.  We will sell our creation at the annual Newcomer's Christmas Fair this week.

We started out with oranges from Seville, Spain.  These oranges are higher in pectin which helps the marmalade "set" and they also have a more bitter taste than most oranges.

We cut the oranges and lemons in half, and then juiced them.  We then removed the pith and pips (new vocabulary for me).  After running the orange and lemon peels through a food processor, we microwaved them for about 12 minutes.

While the microwave was humming, we started to boil the pith and pips to bring out the pectin (say that three times fast).  Once it had boiled for quite some time, we then strained it into the preserving pan with the softened peels.  Don't let my descriptions fool you, it took some elbow grease to stir it fast enough to make the pectin separate and force it through the strainer....was that description clear as mud??  I'm sure Rachel Ray would be greatly disappointed at my wording!

Jennie's hand is moving so fast you can hardly see it!

My "soul sista" Claire working hard!
Next we added the sugar and brought it all to a boil for about 30 minutes...the perfect amount of time for a tea break!

Next came many saucer tests.  Basically Jennie would take a bit from the pot, put it on a chilled saucer and determine if it was ready or not.  Of course she would consult Claire and me each time, but we would just nod and agree with her observation.  I have a feeling she has done this a few times and was just trying to make us feel like we were contributing to the decision making!

After the saucer test was passed, it was time to transfer our beautiful creation into jars.

Voulez vous coucher avec moi ...the real Lady Marmalade!

FYI--do you notice the blurry spot in my pictures?  Well I noticed towards the end of the morning that I had a smear of orange peel on my lens...once again, I'm not the best photographer!

Our finished product!
Once all the jars were filled, we labeled them and decorated the tops with lovely Christmas paper.

We are so proud!
Lady Marmalade and me!  What a sweet lady!

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