Bottled sunshine? Well marmalade really, but just to look at it and smell it, makes you think of sunny orange groves.
I told you last week that I made some grapefruit marmalade and I was waiting for my friendly market-stall holder to find me some bitter oranges. Well I didn't have to wait that long. On Wednesday, Pam (the lady who is teaching me to make lace), arrived at our craft group with bags of seville oranges. She has a spanish friend who regularly picks whatever is on his tree for her, because she has a permanent table at her local bar to sell jams and other craft items to raise money for Asprodalba, which is a day centre, and a small residential unit, for handicapped youngsters. He asked her if she wanted them again this year and said he thought he had about 40kg of fruit on his tree. She went shopping, and when she got back the oranges had arrived outside her flat, but she said it was nearer to 250 kilos, and she didn't know what to do with them all!
There weren't very many takers so I came home with two bags full and it turned out to be about twelve pounds of fruit. (I make marmalade in my pressure cooker, and being a rather ancient model, all its recipes are still in pounds and ounces, so that's how I weighed them!). That meant I could make four batches of my recipe. I decided it would save time if I made two double batches so I prepared the six pounds of fruit, but when I added all the sugar it came right up to the rim of my preserving pan. Not only was this very difficult to stir, it could have been rather disasterous when it came to the boil. So I stirred it very gently until all the sugar had dissolved and then used a big jug to decant about a third of it back into the pressure cooker. It's the only other large pan I have now. The two lots then boiled away quite happily, and when they both reached setting point, I put them all back into the preserving pan for a quick stir to make sure the peel was evenly distributed. This made just over twenty pounds of marmalade. So then I did one more batch as I like it, with lots of peel but finely sliced. Then with the last lot of oranges I cut it into thicker chunks, and replaced a third of the sugar with dark brown. One of my potential customers at church has aasked me about making a darker, thick cut version, so I looked on the internet for some suggestions. Now, hopefully, I will be able to sell it.
Of course I don't need anywhere near forty pounds of it for our use, but I will take it to church through the year for our fund-raising table, and may also be able to sell some in the local bar for our own village charity, Asadis, which helps disadvantaged children within the village.
Knowing my luck, my good friend Josefina will have bags of bitter oranges at the market for me this week, which I will have to accept, and as I hate waste, I shall also have to make marmalade with them. It's a good thing I made all those mince pies. At least I have a ready supply of mincemeat jars to hand, though it is somewhat depleted now.