Our beautiful lemon tree has produced fruit for the first time since we planted it four years ago. It was growing so slowly for the first three years and we thought we were never going to see any lemons on it. We were wrong. We had beautiful white flowers bloom last spring and sometime in late January I noticed the first few lemons. We then noticed a few more several weeks later! In total, the tree produced 15 very large lemons. Considering that the tree is still quite young and just over 2 metres tall, I don’t think it has done badly at all the first time round.
The lemons are still ripening though a few were ripe for the picking just this week! They are juicy, quite tart and very refreshing. This to me seemed perfect for marmalade so this weekend I decided I was going to make us some. I had a few oranges at home already which we bought quite cheaply at the Alberton Apple Tree Market. Here are the ingredients I used and how much they cost:
1 kg Sugar = R 10.80
8 small Oranges = R 4.00 (averaged)
2 large Lemons = FREE (from our garden)
2 hours stove plate Electricity = R 7.60
This yielded 3 jars, or 700 gr. of delicious marmalade for us at the cost of R 22.40. This is much cheaper than what you would pay for 700 gr. of marmalade in the shops. Depending on which brand you are looking at, this much marmalade could cost anywhere between R45 to R80 or even more in some shops or at the markets. While this may not seem so much of a ‘saving’, to me every little bit counts when it comes to our grocery budget. Plus, we haven’t bought jam or marmalade in the shops for a good few years now as we really prefer the taste of homemade goodness. And if we can save a bit here and there by making our own jams or marmalade at home, even better!
Homemade marmalade is really very easy to make, even for absolute beginners, and it doesn’t take long at all. There is about 10 minutes preparation time involved and a total of about 2 hours cooking time. The added bonus to homemade marmalade is that it has no preservatives or flavour enhancers or artificial sweeteners of any kind.
So here is how to make this delicious marmalade at home. Halve your oranges and lemons, and remove the pips. Slice all the fruit very thinly. Place fruit into a pot, top with 1 litre of cold water and boil on the stove, on high, for 1 hour. As it cooks, you will notice the water reducing and the fruit becoming very soft by the time you’re done, and it’s perfectly okay if it looks like ‘mush’ at this stage. After an hour, add the sugar, bring to the boil and let simmer for half an hour.
To test whether or not the marmalade has set, drop half a teaspoon of marmalade into a glass of ice cold water. If the marmalade runs, it’s not set yet. If the marmalade sticks together in the water, very loosely, you’ll know it has set. Pour the marmalade into sterilised jars, close the lid and leave to cool down to room temperature before refrigerating. Enjoy!
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