Making marmalade is time-consuming but ooh! the lovely fresh citrus smell as it cooks would brighten any winter's day. It is economical and the result in flavour and texture is well worth the effort.
January is the only time of the year that the really bitter oranges, marmalade is traditionally made from, are available in the shops- they are sold as 'marmalade oranges' (much too bitter to peel and eat)
I followed my Mum's recipe the first time I made marmalade. She was a Domestic Science teacher in the early 1950's and she told me they made batch after batch of marmalade to sell to raise money for their department, so her recipe is very economical and makes quite a large quantity using every part of the orange. The minced fruit is soaked overnight in cold water presumably to reduce the cooking time.
Made in the same way as jams or jellies, the peel is an integral part of marmalade, extremely tough and requiring long, slow cooking. Pectin which is essential for a good set, exists in the pith and in the pips. Both should be tied in muslin and boiled with the chopped peel. An all-purpose thermometer can be used to guage setting point (220 degrees F) or pour a little onto a cold saucer and if a wrinkled sking forms within a few minutes, setting point has been reached.
There are many variations of marmalade using a variety of citrus fruits. Depending on the method used, marmalade can be chunky with large thick strips of peel or clear jelly with fine strips of peel or thick and chunky where all the peel has been minced rather than cut into strips. It just depends which you prefer.
But whichever you choose nothing tastes quite like freshly made marmalade.