Review: Irish Country Cooking & a recipe for Three Fruit Marmalade

All winter I'd been telling myself that it was time to finally take a dive into the world of preserves - specifically, marmalade. While baking scones, breads, cakes, and even Irish inspired pizza comes second nature to me, the preservation arts remain a bit further from my reach. And all those baked goods are beautifully enhanced by preserved fruits.
overhead photograph of the cookbook, "Irish Country Cooking: More Than 100 Recipes for Today's Table"

As I began researching recipes, I learned of the US release of Irish Country Cooking: More Than 100 Recipes for Today's Table which happens to contain a recipe utilizing three winter fruits - grapefruit, lemon, and orange. This book - originally published in Ireland in 2012 - contains over one-hundred recipes contributed by women from all corners of Ireland, luscious photography by Joanne Murphy, and several helpful pages of hints and indices. Sterling Epicure was kind enough to send me a copy which has taken up residence on my nightstand (and kitchen, of course) since I received it. 

Diptych of Inside page of Irish Country Cooking: More Than 100 Recipes for Today's Table; stack of sliced lemons

This recipe was developed for slow cooker preparation, although it could be adapted for stove-top cooking. Having just purchased a new slow cooker, this was the inaugural recipe in my unit. Note: it smells divine while cooking! Another special item you'll need in order to follow this recipe is a smallish piece of muslin. If you don't have that on hand, a clean remnant of a white cotton pillow case could be used as a substitute. 

overhead photograph of Three Fruit Marmalade in a canning jar

Three Fruit Marmalade

makes about 6 jars 
Printed with permission of Sterling Epicure 

2 lemons, scrubbed 
1 orange, scrubbed 
1 grapefruit, scrubbed 
850ml (1½ pints) water 
1½kg (3lb) sugar 

  1. Slice lemons and orange finely and place in a large mixing bowl, removing and reserving pips as you go. Peel the rind from grapefruit with vegetable peeler. Slice very fine and add to the mixing bowl. Peel pith from the grapefruit, finely chop, and reserve. Finely slice the remaining grapefruit flesh and add to the mixing bowl. 
  2. Combine the reserved pith and pips in a muslin bag, tied with a piece of string. Place fruit and muslin bag into slow cooker, pour over water, cover with lid and cook on low setting for 8-10 hours or overnight. 
  3. Preheat oven to 140°C/275°F/Gas 1. 
  4. Allow to cool and remove muslin bag. Transfer the pulp to a clean, heavy-based saucepan with cup, keeping count of how many cups as you go. Measure an equal quantity of cups of sugar into a baking tray, and warm in a preheated oven for about five minutes. 
  5. Add warmed sugar to the pulp, stirring until dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil and cook rapidly for about 15-20 minutes, until setting point is reached (To test if jam is at setting point, place a plate in the freezer for five to ten minutes. Pop a spoonful of jam on the plate. If the jam wrinkles when pressed, it is ready to bottle. If not set, continue boiling for a little while longer and test again. Alternatively, use a jam thermometer to check for setting temperature of 105°C [220°F]). Remove from heat and cool for about 15 minutes to allow the peel to distribute evenly through the marmalade. Ladle into warm, sterilized jars. Cover, seal well, and label. 
table level photograph of Three Fruit Marmalade in a canning jar
While I know this marmalade will pair so well with scones and my favorite northern style wheaten bread, I also envision using it to make tea and celebration cakes. And, of course, to give as gifts.
overhead shot of inside page of Irish Country Cooking: More Than 100 Recipes for Today's Table
I can see this book quickly becoming a go-to reference for me. With new-to-me recipes like Courgette Jam, Walnut & Treacle Bread, and Puréed Brussels Sprouts alongside classics like Damson & Apple Sauce, Granny's Roast Potatoes, and Blackberry & Apple crumble, it will hardly leave my hands! 

diptych of blackberries and apples in the Irish countryside
Fruits of the season in the Irish countryside.
diptych of red grapefruit and finished Three Fruit Marmalade
Be ready for a few terms typically not used in the United States - for example, pips (seeds), courgette (zucchini) and  sultanas (golden raisins) and a few ingredients not available everywhere such as caster sugar (make your own), golden syrup (read about substitutes here), and cooking apples. Often, substitutes are easily found for these ingredients - and just think, you're learning a bit more about authentic Irish cooking when you learn about these special ingredients! With metric and imperial measurements, and temperatures listed in Celsius, Fahrenheit, and Gas Mark, this book is easy to use no matter your location.

As previously mentioned, this book was originally published in 2012 as The Irish Countrywomen's Association Cookbook. The Irish Countrywomen's Association (ICA) was founded in 1910 with the aim of “improving the standard of life in rural Ireland through education and cooperative effort.” The ICA now has more than 700 local guilds throughout Ireland in cities, towns, and rural areas which form the heart of community life and are integral to keeping tradition and heritage alive. 

Photographs and styling by Elizabeth McNally, 2014. 

Financial compensation was not received for this post. A sample product was gifted from Sterling Epicure. Opinions expressed here are my own.

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