It happens to me every year at about this time. Along with the little tummy flips I start to experience at the first sight of my favourite patch of snowdrops in anticipation of brighter days, I start to see the colour orange highlighting my social media feed and magazine covers. It always gives me a warm and excited feeling that the grey days of winter are beginning to head behind us. And that it’s time to stock up on beautiful Seville oranges to start making marmalade!
As a lover of big bright colours and citrus flavours too, the sight, smell and thought of Seville orange season fills my heart with sunshine even as the grey clouds continue to roll past my window. The urge to head to the kitchen and make my own marmalade also becomes strong. But on the one occasion I have attempted to do so aided and encouraged by my Riverford marmalade kit, I soon realised it was an endeavour not to be taken lightly. Whatever your method and your shred preference, there’s a whole heap of orange skin that needs pithing and chopping into tiny tiny pieces. And for the inexperienced jam maker the jeopardy of acquainting yourself with the mysterious and magical ‘setting point’ is great. And the mess..oh…the mess.
So this year I decided to leave it to others that share my passion for this golden condiment. Happily I was gifted a couple of beautiful jars from a fellow marmalade lover who has a great deal more patience and talent than I and I was more than happy to take a couple of jars off her hands.
I was quick to tuck into it too as it sat glistening and tempting me on my kitchen counter looking like my perfect version of my favourite jam. As a fan of a lighter marmalade with plentiful but skinny shreds, seeing the sunshine winking at me through the jar gave me a clue that it was going to be an absolute treat.
And I was right – it truly was perfection in my marmalade world. If I was a small bear from Peru, this is exactly the stuff I would be keeping under my hat and I will be keeping it all to myself. But what it also did was transport me straight back to my Nan’s kitchen and the sight of the jar of Golden Shred sitting on the table waiting to be applied to some slightly burnt toast.
It was then that I realised where my love of marmalade comes from – the warmth and comfort of a childhood memory that I could literally smell – overcooked toast, and sticky and sweet…memories of a kitchen that is physically no longer there having been demolished last year, but forever clear in my mind thanks to marmalade!