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January 17, 2011

Spread the word ...

marmalade.jpgFollowing on from my last blog on making marmalade, we hear there has been talk of us Brits losing our passion for the golden stuff.

But we would like to think that, far from loosing our passion, we are all discovering a new passion for making the stuff for ourselves causing the noticeable decline in sales of that commercial stuff you get in supermarkets. It's really an indication that we're all rolling our up sleeves and cooking up the real thing in our own kitchens!

So now that you've gone out and bought those lovely golden Seville oranges, and even if you are a marmalade novice, with the 2011 Marmalade Festival fast approaching this is the perfect time for you to get out the preserving pan and pot up some winter sunshine. I've made my first batch of 12 jars and on to the second batch, just to make sure that we won't disappoint any of our bed and breakfast guests during the year - there'll be enough for breakfasts galore and some left over to sell to guests!

And if you're particularly proud of your batch of wonderful breakfast marmalade then you could even take a crack at the The World's Original Marmalade Awards.

Everyone's in with a fighting chance to win!!

January 16, 2011

Quintessential bed & breakfasts

The other day I was very excited to find a new website Quintessential Bed and Breakfast willing to showcase our sort of establishment to the world and was delighted that they were so keen to have us join their growing list of luxury bed and breakfast establishments.

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This new website aims to find the best places to stay throughout the UK, places that offer not only great comfort in beautiful surroundings but also personality and a genuinely warm welcome. Quintessentially British bed and breakfasts. The internet provides a wealth of choice but we, and many of our guests, have found that there is often a lack of consistency of quality, and ‘character’ does not always denote comfort.

Our standards are high and we know our guests love what we do so we are delighted to discover that, at last, there is a website whose sole aim is to showcase only the very best of luxury bed and breakfasts which are still that - bed and breakfast establishments personally run by the property owners. A far cry from those B & B's that are run by housekeepers and lack any personality, or the bed and breakfasts that are really boutique hotels and run by hired help with no owner in sight.

We are excited to be recognised by and be a part of this new luxury market.

January 13, 2011

It's marmalade time again!

We wish everyone a very belated Happy New Year! May 2011 bring you Joy and Happiness.

And we can think of no better way to chase away the snow and embrace the short, cold days of January than to spend a few steamy hours in the kitchen turning a pan full of oranges into pots of sticky, bittersweet Seville orange marmalade for those lazy summer breakfasts. We so can't wait to fill the house with that bright, clean, fresh smell of orange blossom which slowly turns to warm honey as the jewel-like mixture transforms into golden pots of happiness.

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If you're thinking of trying your hand at making a batch of the golden shreds so beloved of our Devon bed and breakfast guests, who always ask if they can buy and jar of the sunny stuff to take home, I hesitantly offer up my own recipe for you to try. It originates from the Kenya Cookery Book, handed down to me by my mother and grandmother.

Don’t delay though, the Seville Orange season is short and sweet - buy them when you see them. And even if you're a marmalade novice, there's a lot to be said for beginners luck and there's nothing more satisfying than getting out the preserving pan and potting up some winter sunshine.


Seville Orange Marmalade Recipe

You will need 9 Seville oranges, 2 sweet oranges and 2 lemons, Unbleached granulated sugar, a preserving pan or large heavy bottom pan, a piece of muslin, seven to nine 500 ml capacity sterilised jam jars and a preserving funnel.

To sterilise the jars, wash them in warm soapy water, rinse and dry them and place in a medium oven for five minutes.

Wipe fruit carefully with a damp cloth.

With a sharp knife, cut fruit, saving all the pips (which are important in helping the marmalade to jell), into very thin slices and put into a large basin.

Put the pips into a piece of muslin, tie into a bag and add to the basin. Cover the fruit and pip bag with cold water and leave to soak for 24 hours.

Next, bring the mixture to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently until you can squeeze the peel to a pulp between your fingers. This could take up to one and a half hours. Leave the cooked mixture to stand overnight.

Next day add the sugar at a ratio of 600g to 550ml of pulp.

Slowly heat the mixture, stirring well with a wooden spoon, until all the sugar has dissolved - you can check this by looking at the back of the spoon, when there are no crystals the sugar is completely dissolved.

Once the sugar is dissolved, bring the mixture up to the boil, skim froth off the top and continue to let it boil gently for as long as it take to get a set.

Then to test for a set, take the pan off the heat and spoon a teaspoonful of marmalade on to a plate that has been chilled in the freezer. Allow it to cool for a minute back in the freezer, then push it with your finger – if a crinkly skin forms, it has reached setting point. If not, return the pan to the heat and continue cooking - do more testing every 15 minutes or so.

When the marmalade has set, leave it to cool for 30 minutes – this prevents the fruit rising to the top of the jar – then ladle (using a preserving funnel) into the warm sterilised jars. Seal the jars while they are hot, label when cold. Store in a cool, dry place.

Romansleigh : South Molton : Devon : EX36 4JW : +44 (0) 1769 550580