Citrus Season

During winter, the Dargle simply drips in citrus. There are lots of lemons, oodles of oranges, piles of naartjies and grapefruit too.

D.H. Lawrence once said: “I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It’s amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor.”  Curiously, that is how we have been feeling too and so a Marmalade Making Competition was held at the Dargle Local Market today.16 gorgeous golden jars entered the competition.  Celebrity judge, Jane Harley, gave each her undivided attention.  “Marmalade should be sliced citrus fruit suspended in a jelly,” she told those of us less familiar with the intricacies, adding ” the jelly must be clear and the fruit firm but soft. Getting the balance right is the difficult part”.

Did you know that Citrus is originally from the East (brought to the Mediterranean by Arab traders) and that Marmalade was invented in Portugal?  Visiting the Dargle Local Market is a fascinating experience – you just never know what you will learn (or who you will meet!).

Not everyone at the market made marmalade to sell today, although much citrus fruit was in evidence, naturally.  There was lots of lemon cordial and lemonade – from the classic equal parts of juice and sugar variety, to a zingy one which included vanilla and juniper berries.

There was lemon curd, of course, and also aioli made with local eggs, garlic and lemons. Malvina’s Tea Emporium offered lemon tea along with other varieties.

You could have bought some lemon and cardamom cookies to nibble with your cup of Earl Grey, if you didn’t feel like coffee.

Victoria had a huge basket of grapefruit for sale alongside the popular Hambledon preserves.

Rose brought two types of oranges to sell to those inspired to try their hand at making marmalade.

Lucinda and Brandon impressed everyone with their “off the grid” variety made on a stove burning wood from alien trees.

Debbie Hayes, who walked away with a few of the top prizes, said “I just love making marmalade. I really enjoy picking the fruit and then, my next favourite part is watching the bubbles to see when it starts to set. That is really exciting.  Of course, it also makes your whole house smell fantastic.”

Thanks to generous Dargle folk for fabulous prizes – Sterling’s Wrought Iron (fruit basket), Corrie Lynn & Co for a beautiful chopping board, Serendipi-T for a massage, Dargle Store for sugar and The Lavender Company for a gift voucher.

See you at the next market on 5 August.  While there is still citrus in abundance, why not start practicing for next year’s competition?  An old-fashioned recipe from “South African Cook and Enjoy” by S.J.A de Villiers:

  • Wash the fruit thoroughly
  • cut into thin shreds, remove seeds and core
  • soak in water for a few hours to extract the pectin
  • Measure the shredded fruit and add 2-3 cups of water for every 1 cup of fruit
  • soak overnight
  • boil the mixture until soft
  • do the pectin test with a little of the juice (pour 1 tablespoon of juice into a small glass containing 3 tablespoons of methylated spirits. Rotate the glass, but do not stir, and leave for a few seconds. Carefully pour liquid onto a saucer and note the firmness of the lump that has formed. If one distinct lump has formed, there is lots of pectin, but if many small lumps form, the pectin content is low.)
  • for high pectin – add 1 cup of sugar to 1 cup of juice, for low pectin add 1/4 cup of sugar for one cup of juice – stir and bring to the boil for 30-60 minutes
  • when sufficiently cooked, allow to stand for a few minutes before pouring into sterilized jars.
  • seal with melted paraffin and seal tightly.

4 thoughts on “Citrus Season

  1. I’ve just been introduced to this wonderful post by Letting Nature Back in, following my own post on the World Marmalade Festival in Cumbria UK, held last weekend. Yours too sounds so much fun.

    1. Hello Margaret – lovely to be connected. Glad you enjoyed the story. Sadly, we have never had another citrus celebration, but hopefully one day…. I will have a look at your story.

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