Guest Blog – Easy Mandarin Marmalade

Guest blogger, Vicki Stebbins, shares her easy mandarin marmalade below.

2kg Mandarins – I used Afourer mandarins (were from Aldi on special at the time).
1 Lemon
9 cups Sugar

Afourer mandarin

I love the Afourer as they are very dark in colour, and have no seeds. So I top and tail and then half them to load into the processor standing up so you get slices not rings.

mandarin in food processor

I’m lazy I find it so easy to slice up the mandarins (I do the same with navel oranges) with the food processor.

Measuring in Pyrex jugThen I measure out how many cups, I use a 4 cup Pyrex jug, it’s not exact but I fill it up. From the two kg I got 9 cups of pulp.

Adding lemon

Then I add a lemon. As the lemon had seeds and I never seem to get them all I juiced the lemon and then finely sliced the skin and tossed it in.

In a stock pot with water added

I put it into a stock pot, deep enough that I’ll be able to stir it tomorrow and not spill out the marmalade. When it’s in the stock pot I add 9 cups of cold water, pop the lid on and leave until tomorrow.

Bringing to a boil

Next morning bring to a boil, and then turn down and simmer for one hour until the citrus is tender.

Muscovado sugar

Then add 9 cups of sugar. I decided to substitute about 85g of white sugar for Muscovado to give it a dark rich colour. This is optional.

Stir to dissolve sugar

Stir to dissolve the sugar and then bring back up to a hard boil.

hard boiling

Hard boil for 40 mins or until the setting point is reached. Give a good stir every so often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot and you can see how it’s going

Washing jars

Sterilise your jars. I wash in hot soapy water, rinse in hot water and the place upside down in the oven on the lowest setting (appox 115/120 Celsius) until dry, or you’re ready to fill with marmalade.

Make sure you have a good cloth to take the jar from the oven and don’t place on the cold sink, put on a wooden bench/board or place a tea towel on the bench, the hot on cold may crack your jars.

Other items - Sterilised

Sterilise lids and other equipment. Here’s my lids, stick thing (white) if needed to poke in the marmalade to remove bubbles, lid ‘picker upper’ (blue) it’s got a magnet and you can pick up the lids in boiling water without touching the inside of the lid.

And a funnel, make sure the funnel fits into the jar and is wide enough for the marmalade to fall through easily.

Jam setting on plate

To test setting point, place a small plate into the freezer, when you think the marmalade is set take it off the stove and take the plate from the freezer, place a small amount on the plate and return to the freezer for one minute.

The marmalade shouldn’t run easily down the plate and should crinkle a bit when pushed with your finger.

Now I will say here I’m a terrible judge so I get uneven results with differing batches, but with more experience that should be better.

Cleaning rims of jars

Once the setting point is reached remove from the stove and ladle into jars. I use a new Chux dampened with very hot water to rub the rims of the jars to ensure there is no jam on the rim as this can affect the seal. DO NOT allow the Chux or your finger into the marmalade.

Jam bottled in jars

All bottled and now to wait and hear the popping of them sealing, always a wonderful sound when you bottle.

I leave to cool and the next day when cold, I wash the bottles in hot soapy water and dry with a tea towel. I don’t immerse in water just hold and wash thoroughly to remove any sticky on the jar.

There’s nothing worse than a sticky jar, it attracts ants and other insects and if you’re selling your jam, as soon as someone feels something sticky they think something is wrong.


Leftover jam

Usually there’s a bit over which I put in a spare jar and put in the fridge when cooled. Next morning my test is to turn the jar upside down and try it on toast (the big test).

This was from my previous batch and is what I aim for, this batch was a little more runny but still tasted great and was good on toast.

I don’t mind it a bit soft, because I like to use marmalade for cakes (put some in the bottom of a lined tin, pour on batter and cook, and you have an upside down marmalade cake) or over chicken when cooking or over chicken or pork as a sauce.

Vicki Stebbins
Tabulam CWA



Guest Blog – Managing Waste Resources in a Small Living Area

Guest blog by Del Robson.

Living in high-density accommodation presents challenges when managing waste resources. Many people are comfortable to use the recycling options, in the form of waste bins, provided by their local Council. The most efficient way to manage these bins is to separate out items as they become waste.

Collect paper, bottles and cans (including used aerosol cans) and place into the bin with the YELLOW lid. Any aluminium foil can also be recycled. Check the code on the base of plastic items, any triangular emblem that includes the numbers 1,2,3,4 or 5 is recyclable. Always make sure that any containers are cleaned before disposal. This prevents smelly rubbish and subsequent smelly bins.

Food scraps should be kept away from general waste so that they do not end up as land fill. Some councils provide both a small bin and compostable bags. Don’t overfill the bags. Because the bags are made from cornflour, they will begin to stretch and break if they hold heavy, watery scraps. Put all these bags, together with waste vegetable matter into the bin with the GREEN lid.

General waste includes the lids of all the containers already recycled, along with non-paper packets, dust from the vacuum cleaner, plastic wrap, disposable plastic-ware and general packaging from fresh food purchases. These all end up in the bin with the RED lid. Once you have separated out the different waste items, you should notice a large drop in the amount of your general waste.

Mini gardens

polystyrene box garden attribute Aqua-Marina

Polystrene Garden. Photo by Aqua-Marina (Creative Commons Licence)

Notwithstanding the lack of growing space outside a dwelling, some people prefer to have some fresh produce to pick from time to time. The ‘polystyrene garden’ is appropriate for them. Such boxes, usually discarded by greengrocers and produce stores, are available free of charge. Boxes with holes in the bottom are excellent to grow a large variety of foods. If possible, find a larger box without holes, into which the holed box will fit. Place layers of newspaper between the boxes to hold moisture. Fill the holed box with a growing medium (eg. potting mix or composted vegetable matter) and plant seeds of broccoli, beetroot, carrot (if the box is deep), lettuce, rocket, cucumber, tomato, etc. Tomatoes will need to be transferred to a large pot before fruiting will occur.
Each plant requires a large amount of water to produce its crop. Beans and peas will need some support for growing plants. Limit the number of plants per box based on the size of the fruit to be cropped. One box would easily produce half a dozen lettuce, 8–10 beetroot, 20–30 carrots, and so on. A single person would need only one tomato plant, one or two cucumber plants, a few bean and pea plants to keep them in fresh vegetables much of a season.

Vegetable waste

If growing your own food appeals to you, then you also need a way to re-use waste vegetable matter. The most practical method for people with limited space is the worm farm. This consists of three boxes placed on top of each other. The bottom box, usually on a stand of some sort, holds the watery excrement of the worms and this can be tapped for liquid fertilizer. The two upper boxes have holes to allow the movement of the worms between layers as they feed on the food scraps and waste plant material. Waste meat, bones, citrus and onion peels should not be included as they attract unwanted pests, and are bad for the worms. Of course, once the matter has decomposed, it can be used in the growing medium of the next growing box.

Why grow food?

With the cost of food increasing all the time and more leisure time becoming available, especially in retirement, growing your own food becomes more attractive. For single people, the purchase of fresh food can lead to waste as it cannot be consumed within the ‘fresh’ time period. So the prospect of being able to pick just what you need from your own growing area has a distinct appeal.

The cost of watering the plants need not be excessive if you look at how much water you waste around your house. Do you let the cool water from the hot water tap run down the drain before collecting the hot water? If all this water was to be collected in a bucket it could be used to water the plants growing in your boxes.

Del Robson, Bonny Hills CWA

plants in potts garden herbs PD

Who Volunteers?

Firstly, an apology for the length of time since my last blog and the somewhat haphazard approach over the last few months. I will finish my term as President of the Country Women’s Association of NSW in just over a month and I think I have been a bit distracted by the light and the end of the tunnel, a family wedding and the salvaging of my neglected garden to host it plus a few unrelated issues that have tested my patience and temper. Emotions that sometimes get in the way of imagination and inclination.

Enough excuses, it’s time to be “onward and upward” as those with the stiff upper lip would say (sounds painful … wonder how the saying came about …?). So here we go!

I spent Good Friday volunteering at our CWA Tea Rooms, which is most efficiently run each year by the hard working members of our Show Catering Committee and around 400 “extras”, at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. It is always interesting and enlightening to interact with the patrons, from both the city and the bush, who are either new to the scone “experience” or seasoned visitors having their annual scone “fix”.
scones - Jackie's sister

As I chatted to those enjoying a welcome rest with their preferred choice of sustenance whilst clearing tables (yes, clearing tables – there are no presidential privileges when all hands are needed on the CWA deck) I noted, with some pride, the respect most of them had for the work our organisation does. Equally impressive was the number of young (and “youngish”) members and supporters who are turning up in their droves to help us with the mammoth task of running the Tea Rooms, to a continually high standard, day after day for a fortnight, every year.

It was invigorating to see the enthusiasm, energy and smiling faces of new members who were enjoying their first taste of the Tea Rooms experience whilst simultaneously marvelling at the clock-work precision that ensures the delivery of the best-ever Devonshire Teas and other tempting goodies, to what seems like a never-ending queue of (thankfully) very patient customers. A huge thanks to both the novices and the seasoned veterans for the time given.

Barbara Reichart with Scone Tally - Jackies sister              IMG_20160327_180448

Some of the aforementioned helpers are not members, but they work like Trojans alongside us, to ensure the standard of service is maintained and the goods delivered on (or close to) time. Some of them are spouses (we offer “brownie point” recognition), others are siblings, adult children, friends or neighbours of members who simply want to help. How fortunate are we that they know such persuasive CWA members? A special thanks to the non-member volunteers who can’t say “no”!

After lunch I switched stations and moved to back-of-house duties and scone cutting. There is some debate over whether this is considered a “promotion” or “demotion” … I look at it as being just another cog in the big wheel that keeps everything turning. Either way it gave me an opportunity, in my very attractive, disposable hair net, to reflect on the happenings of the morning and progress my percolating ponderings about volunteering.

Who volunteers? Why do they volunteer? How do they choose which organisation they might join? Are young people interested in volunteering and if so, what form does it take? In this technological age could I be assisting some distant organisation from my home in rural NSW? Perhaps, if my internet connection could cope?????

I do, in some respects, have my own experiences to draw on, but they have, at times, been limited in choice by distance and access, like many other things in rural areas … for example; might I have been a surf life-saver if I lived on the coast? I’d certainly be fitter but my skin specialist would be shaking his head.

In my search for answers I did what all good seekers do nowadays … albeit at somewhat slower speeds (thanks Telstra) … I asked Google! They didn’t disappoint and provided me with a very interesting report from the NSW Government, which pulls together information from other, very reputable suppliers of information and can be found at

This report actually dispels the myth that volunteers are fewer in number and articulates some of the barriers to offering one’s time to serve others.

Methinks there is not a shortage of volunteers, but a shortage of ideas on how to engage them.

Any suggestions?volunteer-652383_960_720