Does anyone remember when Bridget Jones fed Mark Darcy orange marmalade by accident? She meant to make some sort of fancy dessert, left the concoction in the oven too long and it turned into marmalade. If Bridget Jones could make marmalade by accident, surely it is not that hard right?
I decided to try this 19th century recipe from Park Canada’s website, which apparently was famously known as the King Family’s Marmalade (One of Canada’s prime ministers) and ended up with an epic fail on my hand 😆
Here is the recipe
7 Seville oranges
8 lbs | 3.7 kg loaf sugar
8 pints | 4 litres cold water
Cut the fruit into thin strips, removing only the pips. Put the fruit into a large mug or basin, cover with water and leave it until next day. Boil until the fruit is soft enough for the head of a pin to go through easily; add the sugar and boil until jellied – about one hour.
Recipe tested by Chef David Fairbanks, Algonquin College of Hospitality and Tourism
I decided that I do not want to make that much marmalade, so I halved everything. I chose to use 4 oranges, 1 lemon and 4lb of sugar and 2 L of water.
The instructions were simple enough. After a day of soaking, I placed the pot on the stove top and crank it to heat high, since I wanted it to boil. About 20 minutes in, the oranges slices and water started boiling, so I added the sugar and set timer to one hour, then went about doing other business (playing with Chubby, study, etc)
About 15 minutes in, I heard the loud bubbling sound and smell of burnt sugar. Racing back to the kitchen, this was what I found.
O-kay…a bit of spillage with liquid boiled over, despite only 1/2 full in the pot. No worries, nothing a little elbow grease can’t fix. I turned the heat down, enough so that the liquid was still bubbling and went back to waiting for the timer to ring.
Here is the thing- the recipe says boil but it did not say high heat, medium or simmer… Therefore I had to guess (Part of the fun lol). I also wasn’t sure if I was supposed to stir, but common sense dictates that it should be stirred.
At the 1 hour mark, I went back to check. I guess I was hoping for some obvious jelly- like consistency but it was not so. The whole thing looked unchanged, like a lot of orange slices stewing in boiling water. The liquid was getting thicker. I figured that perhaps I had to keep heating it until more water evaporate to give me a more gooey- syrupy substance. I decided to leave it for another 30 minutes.
I Created a Monster…
Before the 30 minutes was up, I smelt burnt caramel.
I got my wish, the liquid was now thick, but it was not jelly- like. It had turned into super hot caramel with dark, burnt pieces of sugar- coated orange slices in it.
I went to dump everything out but felt like I wanted to salvage something. So I strained the concoction.
I ended up with piping hot caramel. It smelled burnt but tasted nice. Initially I wanted to leave the rest of the caramel out to cool, but I was worried about ants, since I was meeting up with a friend and won’t be home till the morning. I put the whole thing in the fridge… Most of you can probably guess what happened… When I came back the next day, the whole thing cooled down to one big block of solid caramel that was firmly stuck to the bottom of the pot and I couldn’t make a dent…
Shaking my head at the absurdity, I decided to dump the rest out. Call it a failed experiment. I soaked the pot in hot water and the caramel started to lift off the bottom. Placing my hand in the mess, I was surprised to find the tar- like substance was soft and slippery, almost a bit like jelly…
I had a lot of fun playing with this smooth sugary tar before I dumped it out.
In retrospect, I think when the recipe says “…until jelly like”, perhaps it was talking about the orange slices being jelly like, not the whole pot…
After wasting so much time and money trying this recipe, I probably will not attempt this anytime soon. It was fun though despite all the crazy stuff I did wrong. Cooking is always a bit like a chemistry experiment. You have a bit of surprise here and there and sometimes mistakes can be new discoveries, and sometimes mistakes are just mistakes lol…