More Marmalade and Lots of Learning
I love to see the oranges on the trees and am reminded that a lot of the songs refer to ‘oleando de naranjas’ and how the emigrant in Havana remembers how
beutiful Jerez is in the morning with the smell of the oranges.
It’s true and is avery characteristic flavour of JerezAs a marmalade maker I have wondered how I can get some fruit to make more marmalade. Invariably the oranges are high up. One of my friends said he would come out with steps one night and help me collect some. However I have found another solution. The trees in a street near my current apartment block have low hanging fruit. So I can just go out with an IKEA bag and pick some. Marmalade made from fresh-picked fruit is definitely better. It has a sharper taste. Yes I know it’s stealing, but I’m sure when I start proper production they will forgive me.
I also had some fructose to use up and rather than cane sugar I have found that it makes marvellous marmalade. It can’t be said to be healthier, although our bodies do metabolise the fructose more effectively and this is extracted from apples and not high fructose corn syrup or in some cases birch bark. However it still gives the sugar spike that can lead to insulin ineffectiveness and the body’s eventual insulin resistance, which if it continues does lead to diabetes type 2. However coming from natural fruit it is better than corn syrup which is used to sweeten fizzy drinks and metabolised very rapidly into the type of fat around the midriff which is really difficult to shift and the pre-cursor for insulin resistance.
The recipes I use give the quanitities for cane sugar and fructose is more potent than this so I have to experiment with the amount. When people look at successful companies they think ‘I wish I could do that’ or ‘oh lucky so and so, they’ve hit the jackpot’. However they don’t consider the hours and experimental tries that make up a successful product. I learned to make marmalade literally at my mother’s knee. Although she gave me a chair to stand on to stir the pot. I can’t actually remember my mother’s recipe so have been using one given by the Duchess of Devonshire in Chatsworth Recipe Book. I am sure she wouldn’t have actually made these herself, however the conserve recipes seem to be excellent. It is a matter of experimentation and learning and when I fail (for example the last batch failed to set even though I had boiled it at jam set point for over an hour after adding the fructose) I have to remind myself that it isn’t failure, but learning. It can be hard though when you have done hours of work beforehand only to find that the jam ‘catches’ on the bottom of the pan and burns giving it a burnt caramel taste. Or as I found the next morning this batch hadn’t set. However you get nice surprises such as coming back to find that the batch that I had literally thrown together at the last minute before I caught the train to Madrid (see a previous post – Midnight Marmalade – had in fact achieved a wonderful set consistency. However to repeat that ……!
I have learned so much doing this. For example the comparative price of jam jars, how to order them on line from Spanish suppliers, collecting the box from the shippers in South Jerez. I have built a relationship with two suppliers – one in Seville that I order on line and the other is the Chinese shop near my former apartment in Madre de Dios. Also that under EU law if you sell jam you have to use new jam jars. This actually makes sense since washing old jam jars could still lead to bacterial contamination. Although one of the things I want to do is to buy a proper sterilising unit.
What else have I learned? I have to get on line since Spanish people don’t seem to do home preserving at all. They don’t have shops like Lakeland which sell every which type of home cooking and baking utensil. In fact I have learned how creative the British are in the kitchen, from preserves to baking and home cooking, we really are stars! I watch the Spanish Masterchef and realise that even at the beginning the contestants in the British show are close to the standards of professional chefs and end up being 5 star professional chefs, whereas the Spaniards start as so so home cooks and end up as so so professional chefs.
I have also learned how entrepreneurial the British are compared to Andalucíans. Many of the most successful Spanish companies are Basque and Catalonian. Our retail outlets in the UK are specialist and outstanding. You can get more stationery products in a specialist shop or as I said the home cooking centres like Lakeland. Here I have to trawl round small retailers who might or might not stock jam pot covers or labels.
When I asked out loud ‘why am I doing this’? The response from my friend and very keen supporter in this venture, was ‘because you love making jam.’ It’s true, I do. There is something very satisfying about turning out a successful product. Tasting your own marmalade on toast in the morning is divine. (Even though one of the things that my naturopathic nutrition training teaches is not to eat bread – however there is bread and bread and all things in moderation!)