Yes. I am a woman who does not like marmalade and who has just been on a course to learn how to make it! Why?
1. Miss Reeve’s own cookery books have a number of marmalade recipes and, in keeping with my ‘open a page randomly and make whatever it reveals’, the page revealed Marmalade…
2. Via Twitter I had come across The Dalemain Marmalade Awards , a very interesting lady who tweets about all sorts of preserves who is called Vivien Lloyd and a rather interesting cookery school called Juniper and Rose that does all sorts of interesting courses and who happened to be focusing on Marmalade at the particular moment I opened the Miss Reeve recipe book.
3. The weather during January and February 2014 (just in case anybody in centuries to come reads my blog!) has been awful – rain, floods, dark skies – and I just fancied a bit of ‘liquid sunshine’ which, when the sun shines through a clear pot of marmalade, is what it reminds me of.
So – off I trotted to the WI Cookery School, Denman College, for a course run by the marvellous Carrie O’Regan. Regular blog readers know that, having gone through the traumas of cookery lessons at school, I do enjoy going to Denman – tutors always ‘normal’, fellow students always wonderfully ‘abnormal’ and fun (not at all like the age-old reputation of WI ladies…) and the facilities always excellent (knives that cut, pans that are big enough, ingredients at the ready) and somebody always to help you rather than shout at you!
So – we started…
Bernadette of Team Bernadette and Sara
Our companions ‘over the other side of the bench’:
The end of the day photo shoot!
Some technical language I learnt: ‘Rolling boil’ (not some reference to the Black Death don’t worry!), Pectin, Jarrin’ it,
Some concepts I learnt: So many different types of sugar…, you don’t need the fancy equipment if you don’t want to buy it (although we all seemed to fall in love with the WIKOOK pressure cooker!). You can do things the traditional way OR you can use your food processor, your microwave and all sorts of other bells and whistles to make life easier and/or quicker. And of course, the flake test…
Of course, being a group of independently minded women, we made our own language: ‘Scum free’ (the bubbly stuff on the top), ‘marmalade yoga’ (relax whilst stirring) and ‘a coy pan’ (when it won’t get to boiling point quickly enough OR one half boils before the other). And of course the best part of a truly fascinating conversation gave rise to the immortal words ‘I realised my hen had a soggy gussett’! (To find out more, here is a great blog; What Ho!)
I also learnt that:
The use of recycled jars and lids is a tricky issue if you are submitting entries into a show – apparently. And the use of waxed discs is tricky – if used lids, you need a waxed disc; if using a new lid, you won’t. If jarring up, do it either when everything is still hot; or when it is all cold. In between and you get condensation (makes sense!). I learnt all sorts of things which I shan’t go into here but suffice it to say if you like the idea of making your own, go on a course!
And most fabulously, one of the women on the course was somebody I was at York Uni with from 1984-87 – we hadn’t seen each other since then. A small world! I am not sure that either of us had grown up that much really (matured perhaps, but not grown up – thankfully!).
Here are the results:
I shall make may way through the marmalade recipes I found in Miss Reeve’s books. And maybe one day enter a competition… For now it is enough that I have made my own. I can control the thickness and amount of the peel. Without the peel (or at least not as much as is usually inflicted on me by marmalade makers) I kind of like marmalade… How good is that!