Grandma Betty's Recipe Book

Grandma Betty's recipe book

Grandma Betty's recipe book

My husband and I just returned from 10 days in North Devon. We went with his mom to see her 98 year old mother and of course, my husband's grandmother. A word about Betty before we get to her cookbook. She is as I mentioned 98 years old and she still lives on her own. She has fantastic neighbours who drop in on her daily. They pick up groceries she may need, make her a quiche now and again and visit with her on a regular occasion. But - Gran still makes most of her meals, she knits afghans, for as she puts it "old people in the home" and she does the crossword every day. She is still extremely sharp if somewhat forgetful. 

One day on our trip, we were sitting in Gran's conservatory enjoying the sunshine and the gorgeous view of the Moors from the back of her house when my husband brought out a book that looked like it had seen some action. The spine was cracked as if the book had been opened and closed more times than it could count. He had a curious smile on his face as he was looking at me and I immediately knew that what was inside, would be of immense interest to me.

It was Gran's recipe book and the first recipes inside of it were dated from November, 1938. I sat on my hands and waited patiently as James flipped through the pages on the other side of the room. He read things out like "Cheese Scones, Sweet Orange Marmalade, Red Tomato Chutney and Dried Apricot Jam". I could barely take it.

Finally, he handed it over to me. The book felt so well loved and so fragile in my hands. There were pages that were completely loose from the binding. As I flipped through the pages, I could tell the recipes that were the most popular from the splatters on the pages.

As I was exclaiming about some of the recipes, Gran said these magical words "Why don't you take it home with you?". WHAT??? I couldn't believe it. I got rather choked up at the thought. I wanted it more than I could express, but would never have asked for it.

I continued to flip through the pages and there at the very back was a record from 1941 - 1997 of how many pounds of Seville Oranges Gran had turned into marmalade each year.

Over this summer, I am going to ask friends to join me in making some of the recipes from the book and will post our successes and failures with the recipes here. I already have my first friend chosen and can't wait to choose which recipe we will attempt together!

Tips for award winning marmalade

canning competition

With the deadline for the The World's Original Marmalade Awards right around the corner and with Seville Oranges currently in season (I just saw them being sold for $1.99/lb), I thought it would be a good time to share some of the things I have learned over the years having entered my jams, jellies and marmalades into several different competitions.

Let's start off with the judging criteria. How exactly will your marmalade be judged? Now each competition may vary slightly, but they all have similar themes.

The Royal Winter Fair - Your preserves will be judged based on the following criteria:

Visual appeal

  • do you have the correct headspace
  • clarity - they are looking for a clear jelly, a bright coloured jam, a solid amount of fruit
  • suspension - is your peel/fruit distributed equally throughout the jar

Aroma

  • can they smell the different ingredients in your product
  • is it a nice clean smell
  • are there any off notes

Texture

  • have you achieved the desire set
  • is your peel too hard or is it chewy but soft
  • is it spreadable (think of Goldie Locks and the 3 bears here - they want spreadable but not too firm. Soft but not runny)

Flavour

  • is the first thing they taste the fruit used to make the marmalade, jam or jelly
  • is it a clean taste or has it been muddied by overcooking
  • too sweet, too bitter, etc

Originality

  • are you showing them a combination they haven't seen before

Each category is marked out of 10 for a total score of 50.

Now for The World's Original Marmalade Awards, the criteria is slightly different. They judge the following broken down like this;

  • Appearance (2 points)
  • Colour (5 points)
  • Consistency, texture, quality (6 points)
  • Flavour, aroma (7 points)

To get a gold you need a score of between 19.5 - 20. Silver 18-19, Bronze 16-17.5 and Merit 12-15.

So now that you know what you are going to be judged on, how do you go about creating a marmalade that stands a chance of winning? 

seville.jpg

Marmalades can be made from a variety of citrus fruits; grapefruit, lemons, meyer lemons, blood oranges, limes, etc. But for this particular example we are going to assume that you are making a traditional marmalade made from Seville Oranges. Seville Oranges have a short season and usually arrive in Canada in January or February and can be found in stores for approximately 3-4 weeks. They make a great marmalade because of their high pectin content and their peel has a very interesting bitter flavour. 

  1. Start with using organic seville oranges if possible. Because you are including the peel as well as the meat of the fruit, it does make a difference to the overall flavour when the peel has not come into contact with pesticides. Scrub each orange gently with a vegetable brush and then dry completely.
  2. Prepare your oranges carefully. Marmalade is not a quick jam. So give it the time it deserves and you will be rewarded.
  • Cut your oranges in half and juice. Collect all the seeds so you can put them in the cheese cloth along with the pith and membrane. You may also want to consider supreming your orange segments and cutting it into small pieces.
seville oranges
  • Using a spoon, scoop out the membrane and place in a bowl with the seeds. Be consistent with the amount of pith you scoop out for a nice uniform peel
seville oranges
old fashioned seville orange marmalade
  • Cut your peels in half and flatten, then trim off any points or curves so you can create a nice uniform rind size.
seville orange peel preparation
  • you can decide here if you want a chunky peel or a fine cut peel, but ensure you are consistent
marmalade rind prep

3. Soak your peel in an equal amount of water for 1-2 minutes. This removes some of the bitterness from the peel. Drain the water and do not keep it.

4. Cook your peel with a little bit of baking soda. This will help keep your peel nice and bright once it is cooked. Remember to simmer gently. Peels that are cooked on a high boil tend to get tough.

5. Warm your sugar in the oven before adding it to your fruit. This reduces the chance of crystallization of the sugar in your marmalade. It helps it to dissolve quickly. If you can't warm it in an oven, be sure to allow the sugar to completely dissolve before bringing to a boil

6. Consider making your marmalade in a copper pot (keeping in mind not to soften the peel in the copper pot on it's own. Copper pots require sugar to always be present). Copper is an amazing conductor of heat and allow you to cook your jam down to the desired consistency quicker and without cooking away too much of the flavour of the fruit.

7. Add a small amount of unsalted butter to your marmalade. This reduces the amount of foam as it cooks and reduces the amount of skimming your final product will require. Not properly skimming off the foam can lead to a cloudy marmalade.

8. Allow your marmalade to cool for at least 5 minutes in the pot and off the heat before ladling into previously sterilized jars. This helps to reduce the fruit floating to the top of the jars and leads to nicer suspension.

9. Accurately measure your headspace. Especially in North American competitions, this will be noted and you will lose points if you leave too much or too little headspace.

10. If a jar doesn't seal properly it doesn't matter how delicious your marmalade may be, your entry will still be disqualified.

Now if you are feeling inspired, you still have time to make some marmalade and enter it into The World's Original Marmalade Awards or if you live in Toronto, consider Mad For Marmalade, Crazy for Citrus. 

For a few other pointers you can check out my Marmalade video here

GOOD LUCK!

For the Love of Grapefruit





It feels like I have been waiting weeks for Seville Oranges to be in season so I can make marmalade. Anyone who knows me knows how much I detest the large grocery stores and grocery shopping in general, but my desire for marmalade has me stopping into Loblaws or the Metro on almost a daily basis.

Friday - I could take the waiting no longer and decided to make marmalade with perhaps the most refreshing citrus; grapefruit. I love the bitter sweet bite of ruby red grapefruit and wondered how it would translate into a marmalade. My official taste tester James tells me that it cleanses the palette and is refreshing. I could barely wait to toast up a crumpet to see how it fared on my morning toast.

The recipe itself is quite time consuming and the output was rather small. This is coming from someone who likes to preserve in 'bulk'. But the flavour is well worth the work. I can tell that this will become part of my regular preserve cupboard and that we won't do without grapefruit marmalade in the future.

I bought 9 large red grapefruits and ended up using the zest from all 9 of the grapefuit, but only the fruit from about 5 of them. The rest I chopped up to make a fruit salad.

1 cup grapefruit zest
1 cup water
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice
3/4 cup water
1/8 tsp baking powder
3 cups supremed and finely chopped grapefruit (never supremed a grapefruit before..check out this video)
5 cups sugar
1/2 tsp unsalted butter
1 3oz liquid pectin

Combine the zest and 1 cup water and let sit for 5-10 minutes and then drain.
Combine the peel with the grapefruit juice, 3/4 cup water and the baking soda. Over med/high heat bring to a full boil.

Reduce heat and cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Stirring 2-3 times. Stir in the fruit, cover and simmer 10 mins more.

Stir in the sugar and butter. Stirring constantly until the sugar completely dissolves. This took about 10 minutes.

Increase the heat to med/high stirring constantly bring to a full rolling bowl. It is important to continually stir as it allows the ingredients to come to a rolling bowl slowly and for some of the liquid to evaporate.

Stir in the pectin and once again stir constantly and bring to a full rolling boil. I boiled for 3 minutes until the jam was at a consistency I liked and then I removed the pan from the heat. You may need to skim off any foam, I did not have any.

Let it sit for 5 minutes so that the fruit settles, give a quick stir and then ladle into your jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims and the threads with a damp cloth or paper towel and cover with your lids. Process 250ml jars for 10 minutes.

If you prefer a 'zestier' marmalade you could also finely slice the grapefruit peel and use it instead of just the zest.