Many of us grew up on casseroles out of a slow cooker – but now home cooks are using that same slow cooker to roast chickens, bake bread, make homemade yogurt and many other imaginative dishes. This month’s Recipe ReDux the theme is, The No-Casserole Crock Pot, we are sharing how we are using the slow cooker to craft new creative, healthy recipes.
My gran used to home-make absolutely delicious marmalade. Even good shop-bought marmalade can never match what can be made at home from just four simple ingredients – oranges, lemons, water and sugar. I had never made marmalade myself and in fact I haven’t successfully made jam before either, although there was one disastrous attempt in a food science practical, but it has been 5 years since that incident – so I was ready to give it another try.
I’ve adapted my grans recipe to be made in a slow cooker (for her recipe you soak the fruit overnight and boil with sugar the next day). Using a slow cooker means your marmalade is cooked low and slow – ensures that your marmalade sets to a beautiful gel. My slow cooker is also much bigger than any of my pots, which would not have accommodated this recipe. I have used sugar in the recipe as my marmalade portions are small i.e. my total sugar per serving remains low but a sugar-alternative could be substituted.
- 6 large or 8 small oranges
- 2 large or 3 small lemons
- 2.5kg sugar
- 2 - 3 litres water
- Wash fruit well, removing any blemishes and stalks.
- Cut the oranges and lemons in half and thinly slice into half-moon slices. (If you have a mandoline, this will be quite fast) - discard any seeds.
- Place the sliced fruit and their juices into the slow cooker.
- Cover the fruit with water and simmer until the peels are very soft (I left it on high for 6 hours). Sugar has a hardening effect, so tough-skinned fruits should always be simmered before the sugar is added to the slow cooker.
- Mix in the sugar and stir until all the sugar crystals have fully dissolved.
- When you are sure there are no more sugar crystals left, let the marmalade bubble away gently for it to darken and develop its lovely rich flavour (I left it on low overnight).
- In the morning, turn back up to high and simmer for 3 hours. Skim off any foam that forms on the top. Test the readiness of the marmalade by placing a teaspoon of the mixture onto the chilled plate and allowing it to sit for 30 seconds. Tilt the plate. The mixture should be a soft gel that moves slightly and forms a crinkly skin. If mixture is thin and runs easily, it is not ready. If it's firm, neither runny nor too hard, it has reached setting point. It will be a golden orange colour. (If the marmalade is runny, continue cooking it and if it's too hard, add more water.)
- To sterilize your jars: fill a large pot ¾ full with water, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Place 8 x 375ml jars and their lids into the boiling water and make sure the water covers the jars. Boil for 10 minutes.
- Decant the marmalade and seal the jars while they are hot, then label the next day when cold. Store in a cool, dry place. Too much light is not good for storage, while a damp or steamy atmosphere can cause mould to develop on the surface of the marmalade.