Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Labour of the month: January

I've always loved those medieval 'labours of the months' – tasks that mark the turning year; you know the sort of thing . . .
  • January - Feasting
  • February - Sitting by the fire
  • March - Pruning trees, or digging
  • April - Planting, enjoying the country or picking flowers
  • May - Hawking, courtly love
  • June - Hay harvest
  • July - wheat harvest
  • August - wheat threshing
  • September - Grape harvest
  • October - ploughing or sowing
  • November - gathering acorns for pigs
  • December - killing the pig, baking bread
All illustrated with pictures of stocky peasants toiling on the land and the occasional toff and his lady-love swanning around in a leafy grove. So I thought I'd blog a Labour of the Month through 2011 on PPPs – I may even evolve them into designs for prints or indeed a calendar; let's start with a culinary labour to mark the month of January . . .

Making Marmalade

After obtaining the prerequisite ingredient: Seville Oranges, I spent some time reading through all the recipes I could lay my hands on to settle upon the 'best' method; in the end I realised that Fiona the Cottage Smallholder had in fact done the groundwork and her recommendation for the best and simplest method was similar to that of my Mum and also St Delia of Norwich City – and that's good enough for me! You can find Fiona's recipe for Easy Seville Orange Marmalade here.

Not only was it easy peasy, it worked and I now have 20 (and a bit) jars of the best marmalade I've ever made!



  1. Oh wow Celia this is something I was thinking of doing this next week (birthday treat to myself) and you have totally inspired me to make sure I do!!! The colour looks amazingly rich and juicy. I can almost smell it let alone taste it!!! OOOoooo i can't wait now to get some made. Toast and butter with homemade marmalade, a cuppa and a good book, can it get any better than that??? Ionwen XXX

  2. I'm down to my last jar so think this is on my to do list for the next week. Think I'll try your recommended recipe too... it looks good. But first I must finish my tax return!
    p.s. Twenty jars!!!!

  3. We are down to our last jar from this time last year. There's no marmalade to beat that made from Sevilles.

  4. I've not come across those medieval Labour of the Month sayings, but love them, especially February. That's my type of labour.

    Your marmalade is making me hungry. Looks fab.

  5. such a lovely sunny colour your marmalade is, especially during the gloomy month of january. :)

  6. Celia,
    What a great idea to do each month and you're off to a cracking - and productive - start. 20 jars!! I don't think I have a pan big enough to hold that much fluid! A calendar sounds a truly inspired way to record the monthly activity too. Put me down for one for 2012! (No pressure of course) Lesley x

  7. Saw the Seville oranges outside the post office today and was tempted.... and I'm really impressed that you have 20 matching jamjars, there's posh!!
    I do hope you do some illustrations and if that Lesley's getting a calendar, I want one too!

  8. OK, you've convinced me... I think I saw a recipe for microwave marmalade in my WI book so it's about time I put it to good use.

  9. I think I've got two jars of marmalade left from last year - my son in law has had a few jars so wanted to make a bit more this year but Tesco don't have any sevilles and I forgot to look in Morrisons when I was there yesterday. Made a batch with cranberries in last time which came out really well but can't for the life of me remember which recipe I used. Oh well not to worry - marmalade sort of makes itself I think whereas jam looks much more tricky.

  10. That is one of my favourite things to make, and to eat! I love making marmalade.

  11. Just a thimbleful...

    Oh, marmalade! I've been making it for years but now we don't eat so much (good Scottish oats for breakfast) and I find I give it away. Still, that brings a smile so maybe I will do it one more time!

  12. love the theme for the year very much. And that marmalade looks lovely. I never 'got' marmalade until we started baking our own bread. Now I'm an addict and my Dad is oathed to making me several jars a year!

  13. Hi Ionwen - I hope you try home-made marmalade, you really won't want bought stuff ever!

    Hi Gina - yes this should keep us going! Last made marmalade in 2009 and just finished the final jar.

    Hi Veg Heaven - spot on!

    Hi Wessex Reiver - knowing the 'Labours of the Months' opens up a whole world of medieval art (guess what period of Art History I studied?!)

    Hi Petoskystone - maybe that's why marmalade is part of UK culture - Spanish sunshine in a jar!

    Hi Lesley - I didn't intend to make 20 jars, but I'd bought 2kg of Seville oranges and it just happened!

    Hi Chrissie - matching jars! result of being married to a man addicted to a certain brand of Indian pickle!

    Hi Lucy - I'm assured by Rachel who makes our Landscape East jewellery, that microwave marmalade is quick and easy.

    Hi Carol - your marmalade experiments sound very adventurous!

    Hi Matron - agreed... love the smell!

    Hi Mavis - same here we're not every day maramlade users, it's muesli for him, porridge oats for me all year round. The marmalade is for occasional weekend brekkies and also for puddings, glazes for ham, presents for friends, etc.

    Hi Jacqui and Mick - you're right, good marmalade deserves good bread! Have you tried Nigel Slater's Lazy Loaf ( http://tinyurl.com/37mnkcx ) soda bread is perfect for marmalade!



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