Do you know, I love Christmas whether its quiet and relaxed or surrounded by noise and grandchildren but somewhere in the background I am always thinking about 'after'. That's after the decorations come down, after everyone has gone home, after the leftovers are used up, after the big clean up. In my case 'after' is focused on marmalade making - that stringent, refreshing smell all through the house, jars and jars filling up with all their golden goodness on display.
I have already ordered three whole boxes of Seville oranges from my supplier and as soon as they arrive I will freeze almost all of them, whole. I have used the same recipe all of my life and the oranges are cooked whole first, before cutting up. You can cook them from frozen if you want to - just increase the cooking time a little. The recipe will be going up on the website over Christmas so buy the oranges as soon as you see them in the shops. There is one harvest of oranges so it makes no sense to wait until later - it will be the same oranges. They may be slightly cheaper if you wait but the pectin level in the fruit, essential for a good set, will have dropped significantly. Not good.
The other thing that happens after Christmas, or in the New Year to be precise, the Annual Glass Price Hike. Now I can't do anything about this, it is what the industry does. There is no reaction to increases in the marketplace during the year and once a year everything evens out in a modest rise.
What I can do to help though, is to line up a real deal on a great jar for marmalade - complete with an orange cap. You can order at this great price - 39p each inc cap and Vat - through the holiday period for dispatch at the beginning of the year. We don't have an unlimited supply so if the jar suits you then make sure of yours. We have muslin, traditional labels and a modern take, and our pans are still on offer at £19.99 until Christmas Eve. (Makes a great Christmas present!)
Well my Preserving Peeps - wherever you are going to be and whatever you are going to do - have fun, be safe and enjoy a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful Preserving New Year Rx
Enough galivanting around the countryside winning awards - back to work now. I have a lot of stock to get made, my new labels to re-brand the products as 'Rosie Makes' - I don't know about you but labeling takes up more time than anything else. It all looks really smart though - good old Trev, coming up with another great design. I've been making more marmalade - chunky and fine shred, plus experimenting with a Seville Orange & Date Chutney. If it turns out well I'll post the recipe for you later. There is some more Souper Mix which I can't make fast enough, frankly, it is sooo popular, and today it's been Fiery Bengal Chutney with Scotch Bonnet Chillies. We are off to Legoland tomorrow until Saturday with the little guys but Sunday will be Piccalilli I think.
While I have been making I have also been trying to photograph what I am doing so that the library of 'stills' gets more comprehensive. Not easy balancing the camera whilst stirring the pans! There is going to be an accident one of these days! I am really pleased with the mobile recipe site I have devised it so that you can look up recipes on the go and soon you will be able to interrogate the site to find all that you need really easily. The problem is some of the recipes don't have photographs yet so it is those gaps I am trying to fill first. So bear with me, I will get there. There are just a couple of what I took today at the bottom of the page so a good start.
I'll just leave you the lovely recipe for Apple, Pear and Plum Jam which I also made this week - it is easy to make at the moment as there is not much around to get excited about and it is very delicious!
Apple, Pear and Plum Jam
Makes around 4.5 - 5kgs / 10-11lb
900g/2lbs cooking apples, peeled and cored
900g/2lbs pears, peeled and cored
900g/2lbs plums - I used up some frozen ones I had ( make sure the stones are removed )
grated juice and zest of one large lemon
2.5 kgs/5lbs 4oz sugar
Prep all of the fruits and then put into a large preserving pan with the lemon juice.
Cook until it is softened then add the sugar off of the heat.
Stir until dissolved and then return to the heat and bring to a rolling boil.
Boil rapidly for 15-20 mins until setting point is reached.
Pot up the jam into warm jars - and enjoy.
There are still some places left on my regular classes and the new Master Classes are now available - phone or email me for more details. Next Professional Day for Artisans at The Old Smithy is May 24
I was sitting at the table in The Old Smithy working away, waiting for some marmalade to cook. In walks daughter-in-law Tania and Samuel, just 1 year - and Batman.
Batman lifted the corner of his mask 'Don't worry Nanny, it's only me' Phew! For a moment there . . .he had come to see Daddy, working upstairs. 'Be careful on the stairs Batman!' 'It's alright - I have a cape.'
It's been a strange day - really, really busy email-wise. Making more marmalade, devising a new recipe for a chutney - secret at the moment. Finalising details to demonstrate at a large show in the Summer - secret at the moment. Talking to a major new client - erm, still secret oh - and agreeing to supply a local community shop - can't say about that yet either. Meeting to discuss major new scheme I have planned for you - guess what? No, I can't! Golly - just call me 'M'!
I am hugely excited by all of these things, even though I can't share them with you just yet but nevertheless I still have to go home soon and tackle the cliff face of ironing. My life isn't all rock and roll you know.
Before the jam season finally begins I thought I would share with you a poem sent to me by Brian Cusworth and written by his long suffering wife Shirley - he said it was alright for me to tell you about this!
I have a sticky kitchen,
It’s full of strawberry jam,
Put there by my husband,
Cross? Oh yes I am!
On the kitchen surface,
And the cupboard door,
It’s even on the tea towel,
And on the kitchen floor!
‘How will it be cleaned?’ I ask,
As I see my husband run,
I guess it will be me again,
When all is said and done!
Don't forget the new Master Classes - details on FaceBook - Rosie Makes It Easy
There are spaces on some of the regular classes also
Well, we’re back home from this year’s World Marmalade Awards at Dalemain in Penrith. If you didn’t go, that’s a shame – perhaps you should start making plans for next year now. If you did go I hope we had a chat as I was busily demonstrating my whole fruit method of making marmalade. I talked to hundreds of people and was quite hoarse by the end of the show – at least Trev had a peaceful drive home!
I also took part in the Q&A session on both days with the fabulous Dan Lepard – supreme bread maker, Jane Maggs Gold award winner several times over, Pam ‘The Jam’ Corbin and Jonathan Miller from Fortnum & Masons. Everyone else on the panel is involved in the judging of the event and I always end up feeling inadequate because of their very scientific approach.
My offering is much more on a practical level based on my experience, and a voice for the novice, the amateur, those with little preserving confidence and the person who approaches me with ‘I know this is a silly question . . . ‘ No question is silly, if you need to ask it, and I never tire of answering them if I can. I love people to learn, to understand, and to feel empowered enough to have a go.
Preserving isn’t, literally, an exclusive past-time open to only a few – everyone could – and should – experience the joy of preserving something they have grown or foraged, whether that foraging takes place in the urban setting of a market or supermarket. The ingredients are inexpensive, the equipment is minimal and the methods are simple. So my mission is to get everyone having a go – what’s the worst that can happen? Oh – and since you ask and I wouldn’t have mentioned it – I won Bronze for my Savoury Lime & Ginger Marmalade with Cracked Black Pepper. Next year I hope it is you.
How little we know of what is ahead of us – and what a blessing that is! I hope that you all had a much better Christmas break than we did – Trev and I were on our way to Scotland for a few days break over the holiday when we had a call to say his Father had been taken to hospital. We made our way back and spent the next few days in and out of Bury St Edmunds hospital where sadly Jim passed away on 27th. There had to be an inquest as he died of an industrial-related illness – even though he had been retired for thirty years – and the funeral was delayed by ‘ the seasonal backlog’ – a charming expression!
We returned home – eventually – only to both succumb to the Winter sickness bug which went round the whole family one by one. All back to normal now thankfully but where did January go? At least the snow largely passed us by!
I am now catching up with getting some marmalade made, we have started the first classes of the year which have been hugely enjoyable. I get the woodburner stoked up and the smell of the cooking marmalade spreads through The Old Smithy – there is nothing quite like it to lift the spirits. I am also trying to devise a new recipe to enter into The Marmalade Awards at Dalmain at the beginning of March – I will be there demonstrating and hope to meet some of you there as well. Son Rob has taken my latest recipe home tonight to try it out for flavour so I will see what he thinks tomorrow.
I am also devising a new programme of Masterclasses – especially for those of you who have been to one or more classes at The Old Smithy and are now looking to study one subject in more depth. I will be sending out some literature on this shortly, and details will be on the website.
Have you seen our recipe site for mobile? Just enter m.rosiemakesjam.com for a whole host of recipes covering most preserving subjects. As soon as Trev gets time he will build a Search option so that you can snap up some bargains whilst out and about as you will have the relevant recipes – with ingredients – at your fingertips. Let me know what you think. I’ll be adding more and more recipes over the coming weeks.
Well, February tomorrow – and more Marmalade. Need to give the work kitchen a fresh coat of paint and visit the Spring Fair at the NEC next week, fit in a trip to London for a business meeting, another class, and some WI duties – happy days.