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Margaret’s Marmalade

There are many people one meets through a lifetime that leave a lasting impression and the late Margaret Hetzel was just one of those people. Margaret was an accomplished woman, a wonderful hostess, a fine cook, a loving wife and mother and finally grandmother, but most of all she found time for everyone around her. Most amazing was her ability to deliver advice in a gentle but effective way, a skill that is very hard to master. My clearest memory of Margaret is when after some great function where I had delivered all sorts of unreasonable behaviour to my staff Margaret came and sat next to me and gently told me she’d been one the first persons in South Australia to have HRT. “Darling,” she said, “I’d have been a serial killer without it!” As if dear, lovely Margaret could have ever been a serial killer, but I got the message that had been delivered in the sweetest kindest and humorous way and I suspect my staff were ever grateful. Women like me who are rather awkward socially, a bit on the clumsy side, way too outspoken, more at home with men than women find accomplished women like Margaret daunting because they have this way of getting everything 90% right. They always look gorgeous, they manage to say the right thing at the right time, they are well and widely read, understand what each social situation demands, but what is so damned intimidating is that, like Margaret, they are nearly always accomplished cooks. They are the fear of the professional cook because they just know too damned much! Margaret would have never criticized, not even in the intimacy of her own home, but she would have always known when we got it wrong.

The other day making Margaret’s marmalade her spirit was in the kitchen urging me to slice the oranges finer, to reach her own perfection of show quality marmalade. And then there were the pips, the bloody pips that were harvested with care, or so I thought, that floated to the top of every jar I filled. The slyness of those pips made me smile for the memory of Margaret whose marmalade was always perfect.
The recipe came via one of Margaret’s four daughters, Diana Hetzel and came with the following note; “Mum also kept a small supply of glass marbles which were placed in the bottom of the jam mixture while it was boiling to stop it ever catching after the sugar was added. This recipe results in a clear jellied marmalade, which carries the light through it like a beautiful jewel. Mum was always careful to ensure it was not overcooked and dark in colour, although if a jar was ever overlooked in the cellar cupboard (God forbid), it was some years before it darkened. The other thing I remember was how the kitchen and the rest of the house always carried that enticing nectar of citrus, and just smelled of happiness and love (especially after all that fine cutting of the fruit!).”
The fragrance of the marmalade did indeed perfume the house and my tiny garden for hours, another little bit of Margaret’s magic that keeps her sweet memory not just with her family who must miss her terribly but the rest of us who were lucky enough to be allowed to share her.

The Seville oranges that made the marmalade were yet another gift of food from our friends Christine and Greg Crawford, and having never previously made marmalade with them it has to be said they have their reputation for very good reason, the marmalade is exquisite. One of the wonderful things about the rise and rise of home gardens is that more and more of these old fruits are readily available. Try your local organic shop or any farmers’ market and the rewards will be obvious.Don’t delay because their season is short and it is now.

Margaret’s Marmalade

2kg unwaxed Seville oranges, very finely sliced
500g unwaxed lemons, very finely sliced or 10g citric acid
4kg cold water
5.5kg caster sugar

Place cut fruit, pips and any juice into a stainless steel jam pan and pour cold water over the fruit. Let it stand overnight. The next day, bring to the boil and then lower the heat and allow the fruit to simmer merrily (boil gently) for an hour. Take the pan off the heat, add the sugar and bring back to the boil, then boil gently for a further 45 minutes, skimming sugar scum and pips off regularly over that time.
After 30 minutes if you are using the citric acid rather than the lemons, add now and boil gently for a further few minutes.
Remove a teaspoon of the mixture, put it on a saucer, and let it cool briefly. If it remains separated when you run a finger through it, then it is ready and you can switch the pan off. If the mixture is still too liquid, then let the marmalade continue to cook. It should not need much longer than 45 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Ladle into sterilized glass jars and seal immediately (Mum always used cellophane seals and rubber bands, then later would add a metal jar lid over the top).

editor’s note
One small change has been made to Margaret’s recipe because there were no lemons and the recipe has also been converted to metric.
Ann Oliver — food editor and publisher

the people behind Galaxy Guidesfood editor and publisher
Ann Oliver

champagne editor
Kaaren Palmer


Jan Bowman
Political comentator, briliant photographer…farmers’s market obsessed…Brisbane based.

Olivia Stratton Makris
Masters of Gastronomy, NYC, Spain and constant assistance and editorial suggestion…Adelaide based.

Michael Martin…Northern America 2016.Photographic assistance Kym Martin…Adelaide based.

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copyright © text, recipes and images Ann Oliver & Kaaren Palmer 2016.