I’m trying hard to reduce my impact on the world. I mean, not by way of personal impact, the body positivity/body acceptance stuff I do will always be there. But from a sustainability perspective, I’m working at it.
It’s one of the reasons I’m baking sourdough again – it’s cheap, it’s delicious, and it means no more loaves in plastic bags. And why I’m doing things like making pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, cheese and butter. All of the latter help avoid waste. I can put leftover veggies in everything from pickles to stock. Leftover fruit can go into cakes, bakes, puddings, jams, or in this case marmalade.
Given my love for gin, I spend a lot of money on citrus fruit. Many use them for garnishes and whilst leftover slices can be frozen and used later (saving on ice cubes too), whole fruits are a little more challenging. I mean, yes, sure I could slice them too, and freeze them, but then my freezer would be full to overflowing. So when I discovered I had a pile of random citrus that was beyond it’s best – I’m pretty sure the limes would bounce if I threw them – it was time to get the big pan out, and jam.
Of course, given the big citrus flavours in this – I had a leftover grapefruit, some satsumas, a couple of limes and oranges – meant I needed a big gin to work with it. And to hand came the bold flavours of Batch Industrial Strength. It works really well with citrus, but you could easily use something like Tanqueray, or Greenall’s.
My mum taught me how to make jam and I’ve made everything from marmalade, to strawberry and mint jam to redcurrant and red wine jelly. It’s easier than you think, and distinctly satisfying too. But there are things I’ve learned on the way.
Pectin is your friend, and yet your foe. It’s what makes jam set, and because every fruit is different, and every jam different, if it’s not there in sufficient quantities, you’ll just go on to make a really intensely sticky syrup, I can still recall my mum doing something similar with redcurrant jelly, and it being all we put on ice cream for about 18 months.
So if you can, get preserving sugar, or even pectin to add to the jam mixture, it’s incredibly useful. It will ensure it sets, and you’re not left with a big batch of syrup you’re not sure what to do with.
Some fruit (apples for example) are naturally high in pectin, same with the pith of citrus fruits. That said, until you scoop out the insides, you can’t be certain just how thick that pith is, so preserving sugar saves the hassle. Or you can just add an apple or two to the jam/marmalade.
And one final word, if you forget to add the gin, please please don’t add it to the hot sugar mixture. Hot sugar can be pretty volatile, and adding booze at that stage is a little dodgy to say the least. Turn the heat down, let it cool, and then add it.
Finally, sterilise your jars. Save them after you’ve finished the contents, or if you’re feeling fancy, invest in the fancy ones, but before you chuck the jam or marmalade in them, you need to make sure they’re super clean. So wash them thoroughly, then put them open side up on a baking tray in the oven, on Gas Mark 1 or 2 (140-150 °C) to dry completely. This will kill off any bugs on the glass and make sure your jam is preserved perfectly.
I hope you enjoy making this one – it’s a little effort, but worth it. And perfect as a gift if you can’t eat it all yourself!
Gin Marmalade with Batch Gin
Makes about 2.4kg of marmalade - so save those jars!
- 1.25 kg Mixed citrus fruit - oranges, satsumas, grapefruit
- 1.5 kg Preserving sugar
- Water to cover
- 400 ml Industrial Strength Gin
Scrub the fruit (so it's clean of wax) and pop into a preserving pan (or massive stockport) and cover with around 2.25 litres of water.
Turn on the heat, and bring to the boil. Simmer until the fruit is soft.
Turn off the heat and leave to cool.
To make the marmalade:
Remove the fruit from the pan. Keep around 1.7 litres of the liquid in the pan and add the sugar.
Returning to the fruit, cut it in half and scoop out the flesh. Put the flesh in a muslin bag or cloth, and securely tie it to the handle of the pan, letting it sit in the liquid. (I give it a good squeeze first to release some of the liquid into the pan).
Back to the peel, this is where you can add shreds if you want to, cutting the cleaned peel nice and thin. This is totally optional. If you like thicker shreds, cut it thicker. If you like no shreds, just leave them out.
Also at this point add the gin to the pan.
At this point, you'll need your prepare your jam jars if you haven't already. Wash them well, and to sterilise them. pop them in the oven, upright, on around Gas Mark 1 or 2 (140-150 °C) to dry thoroughly. It's also worth popping two saucers/small plates into the freezer for testing at this point.
Turn on the heat - keep it gentle and stirring the sugar into the liquid, bring it up to the boil.
As it comes to the boil, the liquid will release a foamy scrum. Scoop this off the top and discard. Boil for 10-15 minutes.
When it looks nice and clear, grab a saucer from the freezer to test. Drip some of the liquid onto it, to see if it sets. If it's still runny, it's not done yet. If it does, test it by pushing it with the tip of your finger. If it wrinkles, you're done and can turn off the heat.
Carefully using a ladle and a jam funnel if you have one (seriously useful full stop to be honest, I use mine for all sorts of things as well as jam!) put the jam into the sterilised jars. Seal and leave to cool.
Once cool, your marmalade is ready to enjoy. Use it on toast, fresh baked bread, or even a citrussy twist on a Victoria sandwich.