Making Marvellous Marmalade!

Spectacular Seville's, Rocking Dog

Spectacular Seville’s

Seville oranges are in the shops! These particular oranges whose bitter characteristics are perfect for making marmalade come into shops in a blaze of glory in January and will have disappeared in a few short weeks.

I am following a different recipe this year, taken from The Bloomsbury Cookbook by Jans Ondantje Rolls. It’s one which is a bit of a three stage recipe and is quite useful because it allows me to seek out enough preserving sugar, jam pots and covers over a couple of days. The first stage is to slice the oranges, de-pip them, and leave them to soak in water for 24 hours. The second stage involves boiling up the orange slices until they are tender, and again leaving the oranges to sit for another 24 hour spell. Today is the day when the alchemy begins with further boiling, the addition of the sugar and then hoping and praying for a good set. I am thankful to my Home Economics teacher Miss Lawrence for teaching me the flake and wrinkle test to decipher when the hot marmalade can be decanted into spotlessly clean jars. My time spent in the dusting room at Filton High School wasn’t quite so enjoyable. Yes there really was a room where we girls learnt how to dust, lay a tray for an invalid, make a bed etc… The boys meanwhile were making 1970’s metal wall art etc..Grrrrrrrrr!

Today’s recipe is one that was used by Roger Fry. Fry was an English artist and art critic who belonged to the Bloomsbury Group. The Bloomsbury’s were an influential group of English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists. They were a loose collective of friends and relatives who lived, worked or studied together near Bloomsbury during the first half of the 20th Century. Virginia Woolf her sister Vanessa Bell together with Lytton Strachey and Duncan Grant all belonged to the group, along with a number of others. They were often despised for their tangled love lives, being conscientious objectors and for having the audacity to bring Post Impressionist Art to British shores. Fry obviously also liked making marmalade!

A good few years ago I went to visit Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s Sussex retreat, Charleston Farmhouse. I absolutely loved it, furniture, walls, doors, pots all painted and printed, tapestry’d and scrawled- visually eye popping. The garden too was inspirational, a cottage garden with mosaics, brick paths, gnarled apple trees, pots and beating sunshine. I did not want to leave.

It had always been a bit of a dream of mine to own a little piece of Bloomsbury art, something that had tangibly been scrutinised by Virginia Woolf or witnessed soirees, trysts and debates. A few years ago a piece purporting to be by Vanessa Bell came up on a certain online auction site. With the winning bid I have enjoyed my picture (on the back there’s a rather grey man in a loin cloth!) Unfortunately it now sports a rather nasty tear, Andyman managed to fall off a stepladder whilst putting up a curtain pole. Cracked head (the joy of flagstones) requiring stitching, torn artwork, an amazing lamp smashed and walls requiring painting it was quite an expensive and painful misadventure!

So today I will be busy in a somewhat steamy kitchen with my Bloomsbury marmalade, and thoughts of trying to revisit blissful Charleston hopefully sometime very soon.

Shall We Begin? Rocking Dog

Shall We Begin?

Precious Pectin, Rocking Dog

Precious Pectin

Torn Art, Rocking Dog

Torn Art

2 Thoughts on “Making Marvellous Marmalade!

  1. Pingback: Wrapping up In September! - Rocking Dog

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