Tea reminds me………

Oranges, marmalade oranges, Seville sour oranges to be precise, no other to be borne!

You cannot buy decent marmalade in the USA unless you buy UK import stuff which is still the cheap end of the market, pretty gruesome stuff.  The locals here make marmalade with any old sweet oranges, pallid tepid stuff of no use at all to put iron in the soul of your toast!

A girlfriend of mine who has a truck farm also has a stand at the redoubtable Pike’s Place Market in Seattle.  For those of you that don’t know it, it is an old famous covered market selling food exotica to the well heeled of Seattle at positively extortionate prices, make you faint type prices.  I had scoured Bellingham for Seville oranges and had some pretty weird looks and had been shown the door with the ‘what are they’ type comments.  (Bellingham is a bloody useless town!)

Bright idea as Gretchen goes to Seattle at least once a week and has trucks running up and down daily to see if she could get them for me.  She could and did. They have a very short season and have to be ordered generally.  They took three weeks to arrive, still ripening.

A fascinating revelation.  Grown by a specialist grower in California who has a niche market for all sorts of weird oranges I had never heard of, frightfully expensive and beautifully, magnificently tree ripened to perfection and delivered, fresh, blooming and scented to knock you socks off!  Some of you may well make marmalade in the UK as I did, but I never was able to purchase them in this condition, they were always yellowy greenish, small, a bit wizened, lopsided and marginally flaccid by the time I got them, (sounds like some of the ex husbands!)

I set to work and made two large batches, one a clear jelly marmalade with thin rind strips which I prefer and like to cook with- it makes the best underjam for a proper bakewell tart, the soft eggy ones.  The other for spousal unit who prefers the Dundee style of stuff.  Gretchen had half a dozen jars as a thank you and others have been distributed as suitable bribes for favours yet to be garnered in.  I am rather known for my preserves here.

What I want to know is from you foreign living denizens is, like decent tea can you get decent marmalade where you are?     Can you actually buy Seville sour oranges?  If you can, are they like the ones here or the sad specimens we normally get in the UK?  Do any of you actually bother to make your own?

For any of you that might like to look at various weird oranges the farm sells direct and has an interesting web site called Ripeforyou.com

Author: christinaosborne

Landed on one side safely.

22 thoughts on “Tea reminds me………”

  1. In Germany the answer is a blunt “no”. For whatever reason, shopping options here are relatively limited save for inordinate varieties of sausages. In Denmark, however, things are much more civilised. The tragedy is what Germans try to pass of as “marmalade”. Tasteless and wretched. The Huns even attempt to pass a domestic product off as fair dinkum.

  2. I prefer Lime Marmalade especially Key Lime Marmalade, which you can only get in the States.

  3. My mum used to grow her own seville oranges and make cauldrons of marmalade. Just about everything grows with remarkable fecundity (probably the wrong word) in this country. I am convinced that is why the indigenous people of Zimbabwe are quite as inept as they are. There is just very little reason to be ept. But you can get pretty good marmalade here.

  4. Good evening Christina. And, having checked my list (twice), a Good New Year to to you for 2015.

    I have to go to Waitrose, every day of life just now. They give you a free newspaper if you have a ‘My Waitrose’ card and you spend a minimum of £5.00 on a weekday and £10.00 at weekends.

    Add to that the fact that I am a subscriber to the ‘Daily Telegraph’. I joined up for the Referendum campaign and can use my vouchers every day at the newsagent of my choice. It follows that I get £2.80 back each work day and £4.00 on every Saturday and Sunday. The Barclay Boys are actually paying me to read their paper.

    Which isn’t as good as it was, in my opinion.

    Obviously I have to chop the weekly Waitrose shop into handy,daily chunks and I often have to cast a roving eye around the store to spot the odd oppurchancity of a bargain. Three weeks ago, there were Seville oranges overflowing in the reduced price aisle. Beautifully orangey in colour and as as ‘fair and fu’ of flesh’ as Tam Lin himself – 39A.24.

    For some reason, which I can’t now remember, I inherited my Great Aunt Aggie’s jeely pan a few decades ago. Remembering that, I purchased 2 kilos of the very cheap oranges and hurried home to google. Having amazoned some muslin and a sugar thermometer, I dived in and did my best.

    I ended up with the thick peel variety because I got fed up shredding. And I seemed to spend an eternity squeezing the muslin bag to get the pectin out. But it was well worth the effort. I have become the proud possessor of 12 jars of various sizes of what looks like marmalade, smells like marmalade and tastes pretty fantastic.

    Mind, after buying the sugar, sugar thermometer and muslin, It would probably have been a lot cheaper if I had just bought the marmalade directly as part of my daily shop.

    Whatever! Mrs M is delighted by the marmalade and we should get through it all in about a year and a half. I will, of course, keep a jar for Christopher’s visit to Embra in June and am, even now, deciding which whisky to infuse it with so that it goes with his tea.

  5. Years ago I was on a ship that carried Seville oranges from among other places …..Seville. We carried them in wooden open slatted boxes in open stow. Did about four trips discharging at Bristol, Dublin, and Preston. Great days.

  6. JM how much were your oranges. I am so out of touch with UK prices of such these days, last time I made marmalade in the uk was in the 90s? I had to pay 2.10 /lb sterling here. Quite extraordinarily extortionate by my reckoning!

    jazz they were still shipped like that in 2000, I used to buy them for my shop in Pembrokeshire and they came from the wholesale market in Cardiff just like that, one always had to take the whole box, no splitting.Useful crates subsequently!

  7. So, JM, you are one of these MyWaitrose cardholders who are there lapping up free tea and coffee day after day. I have only used that card once since they started and I don’t make much use of the MyJohnLewis card either. I’m subsidising the coffee drinkers and cake eaters of Edinburgh. Still at least you know the place is hygienic, unlike many Edinburgh eateries, it appears.

    My mother made her own marmalade for years, Christina, but I never had the time or the family members who liked marmalade. I now buy the occasional jar of low sugar marmalade since I can no longer stand the sweet stuff.

  8. christinao
    jazz they were still shipped like that in 2000, I used to buy them for my shop in Pembrokeshire and they came from the wholesale market in Cardiff just like that, one always had to take the whole box, no splitting.Useful crates subsequently!

    Orange boxes were pretty common at one time. As I recall they were about 30ins long and 12ins square and divided in half. Hadn’t realised that they survived as late as 2000 ( and to date ?).
    They were quite useful; like tea chests which also seem to have disappeared.

  9. Jazz and CO. My grandad owned a bakery and grocery store when I was a kid. Orange boxes were a one-use product, we just took one side off and counted the oranges out of the crate for sale. Some came from Spain and many came from South Africa (Sunkist?). If I remember correctly the oranges were individually wrapped in blue tissue paper, which proved useful for other hygienic purposes in the early post-war years. We broke up the old crates for kindling our coal fires. They are collectors items these days.


    I still get bulk oranges from Florida but they come in cardboard boxes with moulded nests now.

    We did get bulk tea in chests at the shop, they were lined with lead foil (to deter rodents?) and had several removable metal plugs that were used to draw samples for quality. The tea was weighed into special paper bags for sale, a job I did when I was barely old enough to count. No Health and Safety back then, or child labour inspectors. I got paid once a year by my grandad with one of those old white five pound notes, a lot of money back then .

    Bananas also came in heavy green wooden returnable crates via Ffyfes, transported from the Caribbean via their own fleet of ships, and delivered by a company lorry. A local man was a Ffyfes ship captain for many years, I met him again in the early seventies at a dinner on Nevis. The ships carried household goods and some passengers on the outbound trips and bananas on the return. All gone now I understand.

    Janus; They were viscous things, lots of small nails and sharp metal corners.

  10. Low Wattage and CO

    My only association with banana boxes was when I worked on a ship which did a regular trip from Auckland to amongst other places Apia in Western Samoa. We carried banana boxes in knocked down form in bundles known as shucks (spelling ?) Since the main cargo ex-Auckland was cased frozen meat we interspersed layers of frozen meat with shucks which were not harmed by being frozen and provided some sort of insulation as we discharged layers of meat at intermediate ports.
    On calling at Suva one trip we loaded about half a dozen japanese cars for delivery round the Islands. Cargo work in port was always chaotic as we were discharging and backloading for several ports. During next morning’s wash up no one could remember where we had put these bloody vehicles and we couldn’t find them. The truth then dawned, they had been stuck down No 3 hatch on top of the shucks and were now being gently frozen down to between -15° and -20°. There was nothing to do, they stayed there for the next three days until discharge at Nuku’alofa (Southern Tonga). I still recall them sitting on the wharf heavily frosted and steaming slightly, often wonder if they had anti freeze in the engines.
    After Pago Pago (American Samoa) we eventually reached Apia (Western Samoa) where the shucks were discharged and turned into boxes full of bananas for us to take back to Auckland. The boxes were not dissimilar in size to an orange box and were obviously single use. I suppose the whole thing worked out well. New Zealand had plenty of soft wood for boxes and Samoa had lots of bananas.

  11. Good evening, Christina.

    The original cost was £2.29 per kilo but they had been marked down to 0.99p a kilo when I bought them. I think that’s about £1.04 a lb reduced to about 0.45p.

  12. Working on general cargo ships. before everything was shipped “containerised” tea was a difficult cargo as it would readily pick up the smells and flavours of anything in the same hold, which is why the tea chests were foil lined. New, (freshly painted) vehicles in the same hold were a definite no no.
    Orange boxes also became known as being representative of poverty, if I remember correctly, as in “the only seating in the room was a couple of orange boxes”

  13. True Janus,
    It must have had a long lasting box appreciation effect on me. My first motorbike and sidecar was actually a Norton with a coffin in the place of the sidecar body.

  14. jazz- well any port in a storm! if that is all that is available then putatively better than nothing, no equivalent product here in the USA. They really do not have the marmalade habit here and one can quite see why having tasted their piteous attempt at making it with sweet oranges! Interestingly immediately they have a go at the real stuff they get seriously hooked as is so with so many real foods that I cook. I have to run off duplicates of recipes for club meetings but I doubt very few actually ever try, they are generally too time consuming and daunting for their culinary skills.
    I note that Amazon will not ship this outside the EU, interesting, do they think it will engender revolutions or whatever. Quite beyond me why a tinned orange should by prohibited!!

    Never seen a wooden banana box, by my time they were thick cardboard with many large holes. They were a bugger to store, had to be kept at a reasonable temperature, net result the walk in chiller would not do, neither the fruit store or the shop itself, all too cold. The only place warm enough was my office. It was a small space to start with but by the time it had two dogs in beds, a desk, and a stack of bananas ripening there wasn’t room to get a cat in let alone swing it! The staff and I were climbing over each other literally! We managed, one always does!

    JM- so I had to pay 4x as much! Must go and lie down!!!

    Just to cheer myself up I shall tell you a tale of such meanness and economy as to be prize taking. I don’t waste food, making something out of nothing is an artform and has become one of my chief entertainments here, well it is incredibly boring in the winter here! That is my excuse and I’m sticking to it!
    I make all my pastry with egg yolks, net result I have a plethora of egg whites building up in a stack of mini tupperwares in the fridge, I get to six or so and it is pavlova time! Americans are terrified of pavlovas, they love to eat them but are too frightened to make them as they can go flat all too easily unless you know what you are doing. I am somewhat expecting pavlova worship to usurp current religions at any moment!
    Anyway, I digress, To make it all go further I always make hazelnut pavlovas because of the simple expediency of free hazelnuts from the garden. As usual I filled it with free raspberries from the freezer.
    So all I purchased was a pint of cream to hold the raspberries together and a bit of sugar.
    American double cream- isn’t! You can whip the stuff to sadomasochist levels and all it does is crawl about the dish, no proud peaks etc etc. It is all a plot to that people don’t try to make stuff, they buy it instead. Two sheets of clear frog gelatine destroys their evil designs and hold the whole thing in place! Anyway off I go to spinning group where it is a pot luck. This monster was about 14″ across and fed 24 people with lots of smiles and thank yous.

    FOR A PRINCELY 20p per portion! Just love it!
    Unfortunately I have finished my hazelnuts till the next season, so will have to invent something else next time round.
    mmmm Devils food cake uses egg whites in abundance…………

    Oh yes on the subject of orange boxes and furniture. In the house in Wales I had the attics converted into two bedrooms, one was weirdly shaped to accommodate the new staircase. Needless to say the boy chose that one. The bed would only fit one way and to retain access to the fitted wardrobes in the eaves there was no way it could accommodate a bedside table, of which we had a selection. A few weeks later I went into the room and there was a bedside table, but covered with a cloth. Where on earth did he find that thought I.
    It was an orange box on end!! We kept a selection of orange boxes there all the time we owned that property! He disposed of the cloth after a while! God knows what the cleaner thought!! Not that she ever said, too diplomatic by half!

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