Candied Oranges and Lemons

Candied Oranges

Candied, crystallized, cristallised or glacé fruits, those things of Christmases with elderly aunts. A mystery of the sugar worker's art, they are seldom seen nowadays. No wonder when online they're as much as £1 per ounce!

For some reason, I fancied making some. I guess it's down to my penchant to make anything that any sensible person would buy...
..."Not at £1 and ounce they wouldn't", I hear you cry!

I looked online for recipes, but this produced a lot of recipes for quick candying by boiling the fruit in syrup; I knew that this wasn't what I wanted and was just about to resort to Mrs Beeton when I found The Brownie Points Blog. The picture of chocolate coated candied orange slices looked just what I wanted. Not only that, but there was a link to a book by an expert confectioner giving even fuller details.

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Ginger Confit & Candied Ginger

Candied Ginger

There's some things that really "get my goat". Not least is the ridiculous notion that we can't say 'Christmas' anymore for fear of causing offence. We should call it 'The Festive Season' or something equally as banal. Well sorry folks, until the PC brigade rename Diwali, Eid, Hanukkah and all the other religious festivals, this blog will be calling Christmas just that!

"Phew, help me down of this soap-box someone; I don't know how my wheelchair got up here...!"

This year, I thought I'd try a put together some presents that I'd made myself. Most of my family can afford to buy the things they want. It's time to make their own things that they lack, so I hope they'll appreciate the effort that'll go into my hand-made goods.

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Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam on Toast

Whilst I've been languishing in bed, Pauline's been busy. She's made the Rhubarb Chutney and has now rubbed my nose in it by making strawberry jam - a job I detest. I'm no jam maker as you'll see if you read of my previous exploits and strawberry is my bête noir, the damnable stuff never sets properly when I make it! Needless to say, Pauline's was fine first time! Granted, for the first batch she used jam sugar which has added pectin, but for the second she just used ordinary granulated sugar and that's set just as well. Pauline used a recipe from Sophie Grigson which macerates the strawberries in the sugar. On seeing the method, Mum remembered that she used to do the same technique and that, when she did, her jam set well - not like recently when it's not been setting very well - it begs the question, "Why did you stop then?" - Nah, best not to ask! It seems that the daft gene isn't confined to my generation of our family!

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A picture of piccalilli

It's that time of year when we're up to our necks in fruit and veg. That said, we had to buy the cauliflower for this piccalilli from the shops.

I have a few recipes for this, including one from an elderly cousin that everyone raves about. However, I'm ashamed to say that I prefer St. Delia's. The only change I make to the recipe is to use 1½ oz of flour instead of the ounce used by her. I find the sauce too thin otherwise.

Delia's original recipe, in her book, omits the salting stage; I've made it both ways and they're both good.

On the subject of pickles and chutneys, I keep getting asked for Rhubarb Chutney. So if you have some late rhubarb spare, try it, it comes highly recommended.

A picture of putting piccalilli into a jar

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Marrow or Autumn Curd?

Marrow curd

My grandma Young used to do a lot of fruit bottling and jam making; I suppose everyone who had fruit trees did in those days as they didn't have freezers, or a fridge in grandma's case. She used to make a jam which she called Marrow Cream which was very much like lemon curd. I've since learned that it's more commonly called marrow curd.

Poor old Marrow curd, it's a superb lemony concoction that's up there with the best of them, but has nothing really going for it in the name stakes, does it? So for everyone's benefit I've renamed it Autumn Curd. Of course, a good PR man would also double or treble the price to make it even more attractive, but as you'll make your own, this doesn't really apply!

I couldn't find Grandma Young's recipe, but this one seemed very similar. I've amended it slightly to make it more like the jam I remember:

The ingredients:
2½ lb cooked marrow flesh (about 3½lb before cooking)
2 - 2½ lb sugar (depending on how sweet you like things!)
Juice and grated rind of 4 large lemons
6 oz butter

Steam the marrow until soft. Leave it to drain in a sieve or colander squeezing as much of the liquid out as possible. Mash or liquidise it and squeeze again. Place it into a pan with the sugar and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon juice and grated rind, then the butter. When the butter has melted, bring it all to a rolling simmer, stirring to prevent sticking. Simmer it until thick, 5 - 10 minutes, and then bottle into sterilised jars.

I tasted some of this warn, and it was superb. On cooling, I found it to be very sweet. I'll maybe add more marrow and lemon or less sugar next time. That said, it's still bloomin' good.

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