Hyssop is growing in the garden and there is a lot of it. With a strong aromatic minty and bitter flavor, it is quite an unusual herb these days. But it has been around for a very long time and made its mark in the Old Testament when Moses ordered the Elders to mark their doorknobs with hyssop dipped in lamb’s blood. And we see it appear in Shakespeare’s Othello and The Last Days of Pompeii with guests washing their hands in hyssop and water after a decadent feast. Hyssop is associated with cleansing and priests mixed Hyssop with holy water before blessing the congregation. It has medicinal properties as it grows the same mould as penicillin and the English Botonist John Ray recorded a man completely cured from open wounds when hyssop was applied after he was kicked by a horse and badly injured.
It grows prolifically here so with two very large bushes in the garden, I am looking for ways to lace it into my food without overdoing it. Traditionally used in pie fillings and to season sausages, I am trying something a bit different today.
I am making a small batch of marmalade using just a kilo of Seville Oranges that are plentiful on the island this month. If you do not have them in your garden, they are so cheap in the market at the moment and make a wonderful marmalade. Their seeds are very glutinous and there is no need to add any pectin or additives to achieve a perfect consistency. I collect the nets that garlic is usually packed in and wash them to use instead of muslin.
This is a super easy recipe and I am still in time to make batches to give out as Christmas presents. It takes no time at all and sevilles make a delicious bitter sweet marmalade.
I use equal amounts of sugar and fruit as Seville oranges are quite bitter but if you are using another variety of orange you can reduce the sugar by half and sweeten with honey according to your taste.
You can leave the marmalade as it is without the hyssop or add any herb of your choice.
You will need :
1 kilo Seville Oranges
1 Kilo Sugar
juice of 2 lemons
herbs of your choice or you can simply leave them out
Cut the oranges in half and remove the seeds. Keep aside.
Squeeze the oranges and pour the juice into a heavy pot.
Add the juice of two lemons.
Remove the pith from the orange halves and keep aside.
Chop the orange rind neatly into thin slivers.
Add to the pot.
At this point I also added two sprigs of fresh hyssop, as they are from the tree, rinsed. I removed them before I added the sugar and this allows the flavors to come out while making the infusion.
Place the seeds in a muslin bag with the pith of the oranges and tie securely.
Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer, keep adding water and cook until the rind softens.
If necessary add more water.
When the rind is tender and soft, remove the herb sprigs and add the sugar all at once.
Stir and bring to a quick boil. Lower the heat and keep at rolling boil for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and at this stage I added a very few hyssop leaves that I dried naturally a couple of weeks ago.
Store in sterilized jars and for my most favorite follow this link.
“Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners. So that if we will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs or distract it with many—either to have it sterile with idleness, or manured with industry—why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills. If the balance of our lives had not one scale of reason to poise another of sensuality, the blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us to most prepost’rous conclusions. But we have reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings, our unbitted lusts. Whereof I take this that you call love to be a sect or scion.” Othello, Act 1 Scene 3