I finally tried my hand at jam-making this weekend. Marmalade to be exact.
You know, while I've always appreciated the vastly superior taste of home-made jam, I've never gotten why jam-makers are so often well, smug about their efforts.
Fruit, sugar, water, boil - what could be easier?
Well ... here's how my experience panned out.
Me: I think I'll make lemon marmalade.
Husband: You should use those left-over oranges.
Me: Ok, I'll make lemon and orange marmalade.
I set to work, using a very basic recipe as a guide (it's my first time see). I start diligently removing the pith from the fruit and rind of 8 or so oranges and lemons.
Husband comes in.
Him: You don't have to remove all the pith, the pith is what makes the jam set.
Me: My recipe says remove pith.
Him: My recipe (this being one he once read but is nowhere in evidence right now) says not to.
I fall for the idea of slacking off a bit (I've only done 3 fruits by now and am already getting bored). I start chopping fruit roughly, pith 'n all.
I juice the same amount of fruit, add an obscene amount of sugar and set the whole lot a-boiling.
Right: jars. I gather our motley collection of jars and start packing them into the dishwasher (sterilise and clean in one go - I love it).
Husband: You can't run those with the paper labels still on you know.
Start soaking jars in hot water and scrubbing at the labels. Fucking hell, I've just discovered the hard part about jam-making!
Much, much later; wrist cramping, humour disappearing, jam too thick, rinds still to hard, flavour a little too tangy - I'm starting to hate home-made marmalade.
Husband: Maybe grate in some ginger to lift the flavour.
Me (spewing pith & vinegar): Ja ok, but what about the fact that there's virtually no jam, just a bunch of rinds all clumped together??
Husband: Hmmm, maybe you shouldn't have added the pith.
Me: Seriously?? Are you taking the pith?
Luckily, it looks very good. And I'll grudgingly admit the ginger saved it. And once it cooled it was much less ... dense. Actually, it's not half bad - think I'll go make some toast.