My friend invited me over to pick some cumquats and limes from her garden this week. Each time I picked some fruit I was showered with large drops of icy water from the morning’s rain storm. Along with the heady scent of the citrus it made for quite an ‘invigorating’ experience (new spa treatment anybody?).
I’m using the fruit to make a cumquat and lime marmalade, which I’m basing on a recipe from my regular jam-bible, Rachel Saunders, The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook. I like that this recipe is made over several days because I generally find the whole chopping and cooking process a tad overwhelming in one day – not to mention getting all my teaspoons into the freezer for testing!
I prepared the juice by cutting and boiling some of the fruit and leaving it to drip into a basin overnight. Today I’ve been slicing the remaining fruit, very thinly so it will hang suspended (I hope) in the finished marmalade, having a sharp knife helped things along. While I was very patiently slicing my fruit I thought of Shirley Conran’s famous quote from her 1975 book Superwoman, “life is too short to stuff a mushroom.” All I can say is she clearly hadn’t sliced cumquats!
Sad to say that at the next step I did make a big mistake. I overestimated the amount of sugar I needed for the jam and of course added it in without considering the evidence of my own eyes. I had a sweet gluey mess that wasn’t going to be to anyone’s taste. Thankfully TB seconded my thought that the way to deal with this was to add more water. Sounds weird but if you add enough water to properly dissovle the sugar (that’s the critical bit) you can then just keep boiling the mix back down until it reaches setting point. Not to mention de-scumming the mix along the way.
In the end it all turned out OK and I made 18 jars of marmalade. And yes, the pieces floated nicely throughout the mix.
Of course the proof is in the eating.