Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Time Of Year For Marmalade

At Pottery House B&B all our jams and preserves served with breakfast are home made. In fact strawberries, raspberries and blackberries we pick ourselves.

This time of year, January/February, is the time the Seville oranges are in season, so it's time to make marmalade and today was the day.

I read a recipe somewhere that suggested that adding a tablespoon of black treacle to the mix just before putting in jars gives a lovely dark golden colour, so I gave that a try.

Here's the recipe I used, it makes quite a lot of marmalade so you probably want to half it for home use.

3kg Seville Oranges (We used organic from Waitrose)
4kg sugar
8 lemons

Put the oranges in a large pot with enough water so they float. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 1 - 1.5 hours.

Put a piece of muslin over a bowl. Cut each orange in half, put the pith and pips into the Muslin, and then slice the orange into strips and put in your preserving pan (or large heavy bottomed saucepan).

Add the juice from the lemons to the pan, and all the sugar.

Put the pan on a medium heat and slowly bring to the boil. While that's happening tie the muslin with string and put in the pan.

Once all the sugar has dissolved turn the heat up to full. When it has reached a rolling boil time for 15 mins. Put a small plate in the freezer.

After 15 mins take off the heat and put a teaspoon of the jam onto the frozen plate. Let it cool and then push it with your finger, if it crinkles up it is ready. If not put back on the heat and rapidly boil for another 5 mins, then test again. Repeat until the sample crinkles, for me this took try tries (an additional 2 x 5 mins). Be careful not to over-do and keep stirring otherwise the peel with burn on the bottom of the pan and the burnt taste will permeate your marmalade.

Allow to cool slightly then remove the muslin of pips. Squeeze as much of the goo out as you can and stir into the mix. At this point you can add a tablespoon of black treacle if you'd like a darker colour.

Put into warm, cleaned jars, and securely tighten the lids.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dores Post Office Saved

In the Press & Journal today an article about forthcoming Post Office closure named Dores as one of the post offices that have been saved.

That's good news.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Kestrel Outside the Front Door

Last night I went out in the sleet/snow, to put an item out for collection in the morning. As I opened the front door I heard something drop to the ground behind the bay tree that sits just outside.

I went and fetched my torch and to my amazement it was a female Kestrel. I guess she was using the bay tree as a sheltered roost, so I let her be.

We often seen Kestrels in the garden dive-bombing the smaller birds, but I've never seen one so close before.

Long Tailed Tits

We had Long Tailed Tits in the garden yesterday, on the nut feeder outside the kitchen window.

Although we've seen them a few times in the area, usually in flocks up in the trees, this is the first time we've seen them in the garden.

Must be a shortage of food, especially at this time of year.