Madeira, port and sherry – all delightfully robust examples of wine fortified by matured, beautifully structured brandy. Small pours are all that is required to enjoy such aperitifs or digestifs, who resoundingly boast bold and explosive flavours – all the while supported silently by the strength and complexity of their custodian – brandy.
We each have our own internal fortitude (hopefully yours is not reliant on brandy). Unlike the liqueurs, often the things that give us our internal strength are entirely external to us – family, friends or the patterns of nature. To wake and see the sun lifting the chill from the garden, a sleepy rosy-cheeked child rising from his bed or even a genial wave from a neighbour, has a core-settling effect – the day is motion. And when all is as such, there is every reason to place your foot forward, roll up your sleeves and grasp hold of another new day unlike any other that was.
I’m not sure that marmalade has the good fortune we share. So to be sure that this batch was able to embrace it’s personal journey, I slipped some brandy into the pan at the final stage.
1.5kg oranges (blood or Seville if you can get them, otherwise any)
1.5 kg sugar
4 tbsp brandy
1 pkt Jamsetta (optional)
Put the oranges and 2.25 litres of water in a large preserving pan, cover and simmer for 50-60 minutes until the fruit is very soft.
Remove from heat, lift out the fruit, and cool.
Measure the liquid and if required add extra water until you have 1.7 litres. Stir in the sugar.
Halve the oranges, scoop out the flesh and pips. Tie these in some muslin cloth or similar.
Chop the peel coarsely. Add to the pan with the muslin bag.
Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and cook at a full rolling boil for 10 minutes or until the marmalade has reached setting point. (If you are having any issues with setting, now is the time to stir through the Jamsetta).
Cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the brandy.
Pour into sterilised jars and seal.
Postscript: The brandy worked wonders on the marmalade’s character and on toast in the morning, it has certainly strengthened mine.