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



Connectivity in Rural and Remote Areas – by Fiona, Guest Blogger

Guest Blog – Fiona Luckhurst

Writing this article has been a great example of connectivity issues in rural areas. My internet isn’t working so I can’t email it!! I will have to drive 100 km to get my laptop looked at to see if it is the problem as Telstra says it is not theirs! One positive example of connectivity though is that I read about the Dunedoo CWA in our local paper, the Coolah Diary, which does a great job of connecting local people to broader issues, events and services. So old fashioned paper and print wins over the worldwide web in this case.

Contemplating connectivity in the bush I thought first of mobile phone reception. Telstra and Government agencies ask for black spots to be reported in their coverage. Well I have renamed black spots black holes … they can hardly be called ‘spots’ when the lack of coverage area extends for vast areas of rural Australia, especially hilly areas. Telstra markets its coverage saying it covers 99% of the Australian population. However, the coverage for the non-coastal fringe dwellers … those in the bush, is well under this. I would say in my area, once you get out of town it is rare to have mobile phone coverage. Telstra, which is the only provider in my area offers specialised Yagi aerials and Smart Antennas to increase mobile signal at homes, however these are expensive (about $1,000) and no guarantee they will work. I have a Yagi aerial at home which I have to plug my mobile phone into … it works well, however, there is an issue that the aerial connecting plug doesn’t fit well into the aerial socket and so the adapter in the phone breaks after about twelve months of use, requiring me to purchase a new phone. There is only one smart phone available in Australia with an aerial socket, the infamous Telstra Dave phone which has numerous software issues and instabilities.

So when my phone is working I can use the phone as a wifi hot spot, except now, because it’s not working with my laptop … and … it is expensive to use internet in this manner with data costing $10 per Gigabyte. My other alternatives for broadband at home are the Telstra Wireless unit which was installed but failed consistently and again was expensive as it charged mobile data rates … or the new NBN broadband. This seems to be working well for people at the moment but I wonder if the satellite has the capacity once more people connect to it in their internet deprived glee of downloading and surfing where previously there was sinking sinking in slow slow not even speeds. Even the mobile phone network doesn’t seem to have enough capacity at times.

I am very appreciative the local library has free wifi so even though the library opening hours are limited, I can use their hotspot.

Other connectivity, hmmm, TV – I don’t have TV reception at home. My house in Coolah had poor reception for digital TV even with a booster. Guess I could get satellite TV… more cost, more objects on my small roof which already has two aerials and solar panels. If only I had good, cheap, unlimited broadband like my friends in the city and regional towns I could watch online TV. I am only 20 km from town …

Radio, yes, before digital radio there was radio reception at home, now it is poor and requires an aerial to access only two radio stations – 3 rivers FM and JJJ. Neither of which I would listen to if I had a choice.

Well I guess that leaves me with Face to Face connectivity. It’s a pity my road only gets graded every three years due to Council budget limitations. I have just had to spend more money on getting my car repaired due to the bad condition of the road and I fear my new tyres won’t last long. The wildlife hazard on the road has increased with the rain – last night in the 6 km of my dirt road I came across one wombat, seven kangaroos, several wallabies, a rabbit and two separate herds of feral pigs. Luckily I did not connect with any of them!

When I got home I had a warm soy milk. Home is a pleasant place, free from the incursions of the rest of the world through phone, TV adverts, radio, internet. I am the only person living on my road. My closest neighbours are 6 km away. Except the Jehovah’s Witness that managed to find me here, and, surprisingly the census collector, the only other incursions are from the illegal hunters who think it’s OK to shoot on private roads and even spotlight and shoot on my property. Unfortunately this issue is not addressed in any real, meaningful way by either police or Local Land Services.

Luckily if I do get accidentally shot by illegal hunters we have a great ambulance service which can transport me 150 km to the closest full hospital. Gosh, here in Coolah we are so grateful for the limited health and other services (oh, that’s right we don’t have a bank, Centrelink, Medicare, youth services, disability services, government offices, court house … but we do have part time dentist, counsellor, RMS office … and a few other services, of which we are very grateful).

Three weeks ago the water pump on my bore broke. I am not on town water. It is expensive to get someone out here to fix the pump. I can live without running water at the house for a while, but it is rather inconvenient. Maybe being connected to town water (if it was possible) would be cheaper and more reliable, but the nearest water pipe is a long way off. Same with power. I installed off grid solar here as even though the house is 100 years old there has never been electricity. When it goes bung the closest registered solar electrician is one and a half hours away. Again, I can live without power, but it is inconvenient … and I can’t charge my phone!!!! So, I need to solve the problems myself, and feel grateful for the initiative and resilience this kind of problem gives me the opportunity to develop.

Well, according to my brother, a senior executive in the public service in Canberra, I should never whinge about the difficulties of living in the country because I chose to live here. So true. So even with all my seeming whinge over lack of connectivity, I am still here, and choose to be here. But I can’t say the ongoing  issues outlined above about connectivity – phone, internet, power, water, road funding, lack of health and other services – are likely to attract people to live in the bush, or to encourage young families or youth to stay in the bush.

I wonder where our food will be grown in the future if the population continues to decline? It will be harder to keep coal mines and gas explorers out of good farming land soon. These money grabbers don’t have what most people here have and what keeps them here – a strong connection to the land, a caring for the land, this land that provides our food, textiles and oxygen we breathe. Surely the contribution made by rural people in producing the food and materials other folk need is valuable enough to throw some dollars into supporting basic connectivity of people on the land to the rest of the world – services, roads, telecommunications, radio. It is hard to run a business with poor internet, let alone do your personal banking, find out important information and function in an internet centric world.

Connectivity in the bush is not just about personal issues, it’s about people contributing to society, accessing services, earning a living and being active informed citizens of our nation.

'Can you hear me now?'

I Can’t Knit! – by Janine, Guest Blogger

In my last blog I spoke about the enthusiasm, energy and smiling faces of new members who were enjoying their first taste of the Tea Rooms experience and how optimistic it makes me feel for the future of CWA. I met Janine as we came out of the train station at Olympic Park and in her words, “she hitched her wagon to mine” to find the show office and eventually the Tea Rooms, to start her first volunteer shift. We chatted along the way and her eagerness was quite infectious and provided a fantastic start to the day – so much so that I almost asked if she could bottle it and provide me with a dose of two! Instead I invited her to submit her thoughts for a guest blog spot so that she could also share with you her infectious passion for the Country Women’s Association.


“I Can’t Knit!”
This is a disclaimer I often use in CWA meetings, at market stalls and life in general. It is almost an apology at times … but I can crochet, embroider, sew and bake. I am allowed to not knit. I have had people look at me in disbelief over the last 12 months, both at the thought of me being a CWA lady and that I, again, can’t knit. Their responses range from “But don’t you have to be OLD to be CWA?” to “Isn’t that what they do – knitting?” and my favourite “Are you allowed to wear your pinup clothes and red lipstick to meetings?” YOU BET I AM!!


I thought the CWA was out of reach for me because I worked full time, until I discovered the many groups and branches on Facebook. I started stalking them, liking posts and discovered EVENING BRANCHES! Oh yes – there may be a chance for me yet. I checked my local branches for meeting dates, worked out which fit into my schedule and bingo – Hawkesbury Evening Branch ticked all of my boxes.

My first meeting was a little daunting. I had come straight from work and was quite nervous. I checked my lipstick, put my biggest smile on and proceeded to freak out internally … within 2 minutes I realised how wrong I was. I could not have fallen into a more friendly, welcoming and wonderful group of ladies. By the time my butt hit a chair I had a cuppa in my hand and was being greeted and introduced to ladies that I am now proud to call my friends.

I have attended markets stalls, contributed baked goods, helped with garage sales and Devonshire Tea and laughed my way through craft evenings. I was nominated as Handicrafts Officer in October 2015 and my boss at work thought it fitting to give me a knitted beanie as my congratulatory gift … a reminder about my non-skill!

IMG_20160327_180649-tilt shiftThe pinnacle of my newbie first year in CWA has definitely been volunteering at The Royal Easter Show in the CWA Tea Rooms. I have never seen a more efficient, well run enterprise that was so full of love and chaotic fun. Every single person was there because they wanted to be and you could tell. I was there for the two busiest days – Good Friday and Easter Saturday – so it was a baptism of fire for this newbie. I filled countless teapots of hot water, cleaned trays, cleared tables, prepared cups, filled plates with jam & cream and served hot scones to our beautiful patrons. I loved every minute of talking to the ladies, hearing stories about how many years they had worked in the tea rooms, meeting new friends from all over the state and learning how fast I can move when I needed to. Perhaps my favourite part of the Show experience was talking to our customers – hearing about the first time at the show, the grown men that can’t go past a scone, and the legacy of the CWA scone tradition being carried through generations. There was not a single complaint about waiting for a scone over the two days that I was there, and nobody left the line when they were told there would be a wait.

From my 6 am train ride in on my first day to signing off on my second full day of volunteering, I can safely say with a full heart that I have found my people … and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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