We don’t eat a great deal of jam in our house. The husband alleges that he likes all kinds of jam. But it’s simply not true, he actually will only eat IXL plum jam, the jam of his youth. So I needed a push to get me to make marmalade, despite having had it on my long list of things to have a go at making for some time. That push came this weekend.
If you have sons and they play any kind of sport that involves weekends and mud, you will have been called upon to provide cut up oranges at half time. This weekend was my turn to provide for the mighty Jedis, and I like to think Frank’s bargain navel oranges propelled them to their two one win. Seriously, a bag of oranges for three dollars. Nice ones too. Of course the Tupperware container came back full of skins and sucked on bits and quite a few untouched segments down the bottom. I’m not going to be fooling anyone into eating those, so it must be marmalade making time! Oh, I rinsed them off first. You don’t want grass in your marmalade.
If it wasn’t for the fact that the official Thermomix cookbook was so very rubbish I’d have less material for this blog, so I’m quite thankful. But the official recipe does very much deceive the novice jam maker. Here’s how it went.
You put a kilo of citrus fruit in the jug. My leftover rinsed orange segments were only 400 grams, so I added a Valencia I had in the fruit bowl, plus a couple of blood oranges and a couple of mandarins to make up the weight. The recipe suggest slicing the fruit finely, giving large circles. What arrant nonsense. You have a Thermomix! You chop the buggers up!
I’m also dubious of the next step, which is to add 300 grams of water and cook at 100 degrees for ten minutes on reverse speed soft. With that amount of stuff in the jug, speed soft is just not going to mix it properly. The idea is to soften the peel. I wonder if you need the water at all? Anyway, I went on to the next step, which is to add 800 grams of sugar and cook at 100 degrees for five minutes on reverse speed two, which at least gets the mix moving. This dissolves the sugar, so that step can be left in.
Then you get to the jam making bit. The only useful piece of information in the final paragraph of the recipe is that you do it at Varoma temperature, whatever that is, and you use reverse speed 2. I cooked it for ten minutes, as suggested. I did wander off at one point to talk my husband through picking up movie tickets for WWZ that I’d booked online and wandered back to find a marmalade coated kitchen.
The recipe did warn that it might spit a bit, so put the little clear cup on the lid a little on the side, which I’d done, being a follower of rules. The cup had blown off clear to the other side of the stove. What did contain it was an upturned sieve.
I was fairly sure that it wasn’t cooked, so I gave it another five minutes. The only advice the recipe gave to test for it being cooked was that “it gels when tested”. Well, that’s less than helpful. I know about testing toffee, but toffee is cooked when it gets to a certain temperature. Jam is when the water content is reduced enough and the pectin has been extracted from the skin and seeds enough for it to start to set. Different. And this stuff was very pulpy, so a teaspoon full of it did just sit there, looking a lot like jam.
I decanted it, dear reader, into a litre jar and a half litre jar. Then I paced about a bit, occasionally mopping a bit of marmalade from a wall. It certainly tasted very good. But was it jam? As it cooled I became convinced that it wasn’t. Finally I slopped it back in the jug and set it going again on Varoma temperature at speed two, with the sieve back in place. Unfortunately in the excitement I forgot to put it on reverse, so it’s a bit more chopped up than I’d like. I let it go for twenty minutes. When that was done I had a look at it and I knew I’d got it right. It was shiny. I dropped a teaspoonful on a saucer, and raced to show the Muffet, who hadn’t been interested in a zombie movie. “Look at this!” I said, shoving the saucer under her nose. Then I tilted it to vertical and the blob of jam stayed where it was for a second or two before starting to slide very slowly towards her school blazer which she really shouldn’t have left on the floor. She scooped it up and pronounced it to be delicious, though possibly a little too hot.
It had reduced to being just over a litre of jam. After a night in the fridge it was the perfect consistency (and temperature).