pre­serve per­fec­tion

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THE FIRST BOIL

If you’ve ever bit­ten on grape­fruit or seville or­ange peel, you’ll know how in­tensely bit­ter it is. The first boil in this process re­moves that ex­cess bit­ter­ness. It also ex­tracts pectin from the fruit and then con­cen­trates it as the wa­ter re­duces.

PECTIN

Pectin is nat­u­rally found in the cell walls of plants and fruits, and has been used as a thick­en­ing agent for cen­turies. A high con­cen­tra­tion of it is found in the piths and pips of citrus fruits, which is why it’s tra­di­tional to boil the pips wrapped in muslin, be­fore squeez­ing out as much of the pectin as pos­si­ble.

THE SUGAR

The sugar draws the wa­ter away from the pectin, forc­ing the pectin strands to be­gin to knit to­gether. Af­ter a rapid boil the sugar thick­ens and the pectin re­forms into a gel con­sis­tency.

STERILISATION

Once fruit has been turned into mar­malade and put into a jar, it will keep, sealed, for up to six months. How­ever, this is only the case if the jars are com­pletely ster­ile. If any bac­te­ria gets into the jar, it will shorten the mar­malade’s life­span con­sid­er­ably. To ster­ilise the jars, wash them thor­oughly in hot, soapy wa­ter, rinse well, then put in an oven at 120C/fan 100C/gas Ω for 10-15 min­utes un­til pip­ing hot.

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