Citrus fruits are one of the joys of winter and here are a few recipes to make the most of them. The first recipe is for an old-fashioned sort of alcoholic fruit cordial you make from a range of juicy fruits and especially good made from oranges. The second is a twist on a classic – bittersweet and fragrant, but with a spicy kick. I’ve also included a wonderful little recipe for marmalade cocktail.
We were lucky to spend a few days in Sorrento one November where I took the picture – it really is citrus central. After extensive research, I’ve been perfecting a recipe for limoncello which I shall share another time.
This recipe is taken from River Cottage Handbook: Preserves by Pam Corbin and is a variation on currant shrub.
300ml orange juice (ideally from Seville oranges)
600ml rum or brandy
finely zest from the oranges
1 tsp grated nutmeg
300g granulated sugar
In a large wide-necked jar combine the juice, rum or brandy, zest and nutmeg. Seal tightly and leave to infuse for a week or so in a cool, dark place. I couldn’t resist having the occasional sniff as it smells amazing and shaking it up a bit.
Transfer the liquid to a large, heavy-based pan, add the sugar and heat gently to about 60°C (check with a sugar thermometer). When the sugar has dissolved strain the liquid through muslin or a jelly bag and decant it into a sterilised bottle.
The recipe suggests allowing the shrub to mature for a few months and consuming within two years. We started drinking it after about a fortnight and finished it within a few weeks. It’s absolutely delicious – fresh, boozy, tangy, without the cloying artificial sweetness of Grand Marnier for example. It’s also a wonderful addition to sparkling wine making it taste like an orangey Champagne cocktail.
Seville and ginger marmalade
This recipe comes from my mother and includes cooking apples, although you wouldn’t know from tasting the marmalade, and the ginger is deliciously warming. Just to warn you: you need to give yourself plenty of time to prepare the oranges, even though you don’t need many. It’s well worth it, though. (I’ve used measurements in imperial which is how the recipe came to me.)
Makes 10–12 jars
5 Seville oranges
5 pints water
3lb cooking apples
6½lb sugar (I use granulated)
8oz crystallised ginger, roughly chopped
½oz ground ginger
Cut the oranges in half, squeeze out the juice and reserve. Shred the peel finely, scraping out pips and pith into a muslin bag (I used a large muslin square that I tied into a makeshift bag). Put the peel, juice, water and the muslin bag into a large preserving pan and simmer for a couple of hours until the peel has softened. Remove the muslin bag, squeezing it with your hands to reserve as much juice as possible.
Peel, core and slice the apples. Simmer in 4 tablespoons of water until pulpy. Add the apples to the cooked oranges and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Add both types of ginger and stir well. Bring to the boil and allow to bubble away, skimming as necessary, until setting point is reached, checking either with a sugar thermometer or using the wrinkle test (I tend to do both). Pour into warm, sterilised jars and seal immediately.
Possibly the perfect winter cocktail and one that dates back to the 1920s when it was created by Harry Craddock of the Savoy Hotel. The ginger marmalade is fabulous in this cocktail and it’s worth getting hold of some orange bitters as a bottle lasts for ages and is great in other drinks. I add a shake of it to tonic water if I fancy a grown-up tasting non-alcoholic drink. Gerry’s of Old Compton Street stock it and sell it online.
Place a generous teaspoon of marmalade in a cocktail shaker, add 50ml of decent gin (Sacred from Highgate would be ideal) and mix them with a spoon to loosen the marmalade. Add 15ml lemon juice, a dash of orange bitters and a few ice cubes. Shake really hard and quickly – you don’t want to dilute the cocktail much – strain and serve in a cocktail glass with a twist of orange peel.