Make your own breakfast superfood

  • Are you guilty of self denial?
  • A closely guarded secret revealed
  • 5 health benefits from a sugar rich food

Health logic says that if something is loaded with sugar then it shouldn’t be good for us.

However, what logic doesn’t take into account is the quantity we eat – so that a small portion of a sugar rich food could provide a whole lot more than a few calories.

I made this fantastic discovery after I walked back into the kitchen from my, now regular, morning walk.

Both the dog and I raised our noses to partake of the sweet fruity smell that greeted us.

“I went to the farm shop today and they had some beautiful Seville oranges straight from Spain” said Lara by way of explanation as she saw my quizzical look, “I’m making my Nan’s marmalade for a treat.”

I didn’t get to know her Nan very well as she passed away very early on in my and Lara’s relationship, however, I do remember her jams and marmalades.

Any fruit or berry was likely to end up in her pan, accompanied by sugar, water and her special thermometer.

She made them with such care that every jar retained the very essence of the seasonal delights they contained.

Local folk would haul carrier bags full of their surplus produce to her, along with sterilised glass jars; and would return a few days later to collect their prize, minus a few jars which Nan kept back for herself by way of payment.

There a few joys like freshly made bread with a dollop of plum or damson jam.

In this part of the world the humble scone is lifted to celebrity status by home made clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Now before you tell me about the cardio vascular time bomb such a repast represents, please remember that I am a true advocate of the saying “a little of what you fancy does you good.”

I come across too many people who decry the odd boiled sweet, rich sponge cake or a bag of hot salty chips on the grounds that they are all linked to heart, liver and kidney problems.

But let’s be honest here, a treat once a week is not going to put you in hospital – in fact the very powerful lift such a pleasure gives to your spirits is some of the best medicine going.

Anyway, back to Lara and the marmalade.

Perched atop the stove was a huge heavy pot which was steaming and bubbling away – and next to it on the worktop lay a brown scrap of paper with a spidery scrawl on it.

Nan’s secret recipe

I casually wandered over and peered at this ancient manuscript… It was so SIMPLE. I was expecting some kind of alchemy, but not a bit of it.

This is just good old straightforward cooking, the skill lies in using every bit of the fruit to get the best possible result.

So, risking a lightening bolt of anger from the sky, I am about to let you have the secret, so that you can fill your kitchen with Spanish sunshine

Nan’s Marmalade (circa 1955)

1Kg (2¼ pounds) Seville Oranges – maker sure they are real Spanish ones, without wax

1 large lemon

1Kg natural cane sugar (unrefined)

Basically peel the oranges and segment them, put them in a bowl and crush the segments up until you have a really sloppy mush.

Strain this through a sheet of muslin into a heavy pan. Retain the pulp in the muslin.

Whilst the oranges are draining cut the orange zest away from the white pith beneath it, and chop it into small thin slivers and add to the juice – use about half of the peel in this way.

Put the pith and unused peel into the muslin sheet with the orange pulp.

Now pour about 1½ Litres (3 pints) of cold water into the pan, and squeeze the juice of a lemon into it – once again put the remains of the squeezed lemon into the muslin.

Now’s the secret bit… tie up the muslin to form a bag and drop this into the pot.

Gently simmer the whole lot for an hour. After this let it cool and then squeeze as much liquid out of the muslin bag as you can.

Now you’ll have the most glorious orange essence imaginable, but there might be a little froth on the top, so use a clean spoon to skim it off.

Add the sugar to the pot and heat gently until it dissolves, once this happens turn the heat up and bring to the boil.

Nan’s sugar thermometer then comes into play as you are looking for the mixture to reach setting point. In her notes it says around 220F which equates to about 105C.

Once you get to this level, after about 15 minutes of boiling, take a little of the mixture out and drop it onto a cold plate. If, after 5 minutes, it crinkles when you press it then it’s ready.

Remove from the heat and cool for about 20 minutes – put into sterile jars and seal straight away.

5 good reasons to reach for the marmalade jar… occasionally

Far from being a danger to health, this home made preserve offers a surprising amount of benefit to your health and well being;

  • We all know that a glass of fresh orange juice is good for us, but did you know that just 1g of marmalade contains 20 times more healthy anti-oxidants than those in the glass of juice? These anti-oxidants help lower LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Pectin, the natural gelling agent used to help marmalade and jam set, relieves constipation and sore throats, according to a study by the institute of Food Research.
  • Marmalade is a concentrated source of essential vitamins such as Vitamins C, B3, A and E
  • Flavenoids present in high concentrations in the fruit are not harmed by the cooking method and so are available to help reduce blood pressure.
  • Calcium and other minerals (magnesium & potassium) ensure healthy bone growth and development.

Lara’s Nan lived well into her 90’s despite her sweet tooth, I’m pretty sure that that you too could get the benefits of home made preserves without too much effort.

Go on, get the jam pot bubbling… you know you want to!