Home made preserves - Introduction

As usual, I have no idea about how to make things like marmalade, so if you are new here, you might not know to wait for a bit to see if this works. This is more of an experiment than a recipe. So don't try this at home.

During my last drive in the country I visited my bee whisperer friend Buzzy. He likes to think his blackberry jam is a show stopper. In truth it's pretty good, but it isn't set enough and the seeds are a little too hard.

But while I was up that way I went to the Crystal Brook country show. A place where such shows a stopped by show stopping preserves. His wasn't entered, so didn't stop anything.

While we were staying at the bee whisperer's house, were were given a most amazing cake. It was a poppy seed cake with an orange, kind of toffee, glazey, gooey sauce.


My all time best cake eating experience ever.

They cooked it in front of me while we were chatting in the kitchen, but I didn't take any notice, because I had no idea it would actually be good. The sauce seemed to involve a lot of orange juice, and a lot of orange peel as grated zest, and I presume a stack of sugar.

I have a mandarin tree that is overloaded with fruit that didn't quite see enough water when they were forming, and as a result are a little dry. We are eating them daily, but there are so many they are starting to drop to the ground.

I was juicing some of the mandarins this morning to see if they made good juice. Not so good.

All these things, the fact that I'll soon have a stack of things like tomatoes from the aquaponics system, and my natural predisposition to try stuff "my way" before doing the research I should have done in the first place, have led me to the following conclusion.

I'm going to make some preserves.

In fact I've already started.

I also have a juicer

I also have a bread maker, and a fire extinguisher.

It's good to be prepared.

I picked a bowl of excess, woody mandarins.

And found this tired old lemon in the back of my fridge.

In forming an argument against unset blackberry jam being not able to stop shows, I looked up setting jam and found pectin is the go. Its found naturally occurring in packets on supermarket shelves, and in lemons. I didn't find a supermarket in the back of my fridge, but did find an old tired lemon. I don't know how much or which bit of a lemon to add, so I threw in the whole thing.


I forced it all through the juicer, directly into the bread maker holder pan thing.

It all went through with all peel still on.


I dropped in all the sugar I had in the sugar bowl.

Then went and got another bowl and added that as well.

I cant tell you how much of each of these ingredients I used because I have no idea.

And then stated it running on a slow cycle in the bread maker. You need a slow cycle to stop is splashing around all over the shop.

I ran it for an hour, but it still hadn't reduced enough so I've put it on for another hour.

And I've been wondering if I should add some of the pith for some texture, mouth feel, and visual interest.

There's plenty of it, but it also has some seeds mixed in. There are a lot of seeds in my mandarins.

So as I type it's two minutes away from 2 hours total run time in the bread maker. It's still very liquid but is a pretty good rendition of the sauce I was served with the poppy seed cake.

I decided it needed something like apricots, to give it that silky texture as it's a little too much like water. Water as runnyness I can fix, but the pallet is a little too watery. I think apricots might help that, and also add another layer of flavour as it's a little too shallow and really only has "sweet citrus zest" going for it.

But instead I found some sweet ginger, that I thought should work well. I chopped some up to add towards the end so it maintains a little of it's texture.

I'm going to have to do some research to see how much sugar, and how long a cooking time I need to set jam.

- I suggest you sing a little song here, or perhaps go and make a coffee to maintain the real time essence of this blog post while I look some stuff up on the net. -

I found some dried apricots, so diced them up to add when I add the ginger.

[edit from the future - not on the net, I found the apricots in my kitchen]

My sugar research indicates "more" is the answer so I added another bowl.

I have no idea if the sugar is meant to caramelize a bit, but if so this is going to take a lot longer than I thought. There is no sign of any bubbling in my mixture.

Perhaps just a little more research.

But this will work. It already tastes great. and I'm now going to set it running for another hour to reduce it a little.

It's later, and we find ourselves two hours and forty minutes into the mix. I've been testing the jam by dropping a bit on a plate that I've been keeping in the fridge. I do this when I make caramel for popcorn, and it's starting to show signs of setting. When I poke it after it's cooled, it bunches up a bit rather than running away to the other side of the plate. I don't want this to be too thick so I'll let it finish it's last 20 minutes in the bread maker, and call it done.

I'll let it cool and get an independent taster to give an opinion.

It's later still...


Me: Try this. (handing over toast and my new jam)

Mrs 120ThingsIn20Years: You made marmalade.

Me: What do you think?

Mrs 120ThingsIn20Years: It's subtle.

Me: Can you review it for me? Perhaps three lines for the blog? You cant use the word "zesty".

Mrs 120ThingsIn20Years: I haven't got that much to say about it to be honest.

Me: Well can I have a one word response?

Mrs 120ThingsIn20Years: It leaves a delicious mandarin after-flavour.

Me: That's not one word.

Mrs 120ThingsIn20Years: Can you leave me alone please.


Well there you have it "Delicious!", and I agree. It actually worked pretty well.

I'll try to do some research next time, to try to lower your stress levels. The excitement must have been overwhelming watching this unfold in real time.

Much easier than I thought, but not very child friendly [due to high temperatures]. The same process would be perfect for sweet and sour sauces or anything similar. I might have to make my own sweet chilli sauce when my chillies grow up.

All in all totally worth while.


  1. As always, a great read. Keep up the good work. I can't t wait to hear how the sweet and sour sauce turns out.

    1. Thanks Nicholas. I actually tried this as a sweet and sour sauce by just adding vinegar. It worked at least well enough to convince me to make an all lemon based version and made a lemon dipping sauce for deep fried battered chicken. I dont eat it much, because it's deep fried battered chicken. And the only thing worse for your health than that, is to dip it in lemon jam before eating it :)

  2. Oh my gosh! Are you still blogging? This is fantastic!!

  3. When did I stop Jo? Other than a few rests for hospital stays I'm in for the the next 20 years. :)

    I'm a long haul kind of blogger. (refer title)


Popular Posts