“Take the quickest Pippins, when they are newly gathered, and are sharp; Pare and Core and cut them into half quarters. Put to them their weight of the finest Sugar in Powder, or broken into little pieces. Put upon these in your preserving pan, as much fountain water, as will even cover them. Boil them with a quick-fire, till by trying a little upon a Plate, you find it gellieth. When it is cold (which may be in less then half an hour) then take it from the fire, and put into it a little of the yellow rind of Limons rasped very small, and a little of the Yellow rinde of Oranges boiled tender (casting away the first waters to correct their bitterness) and cut into narrow slices (as in the gelly of Pippins) and some Ambergreece, with a fourth part of Musk, and break the Apples with the back of your preserving spoon, whiles it cooleth. If you like them sharper, you may put in a little juyce of Limon, a little before you take the pan from the fire. When it is cold, put it into pots. This will keep a year or two.“
Sir Kenelm Digby, The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby, Knight, Opened (1669)
edited for the 1910 reprint edition by Anne MacDonnell
‘Marmulate’ is an older term for ‘marmalade’, as the Foods of England Project explains; originally a firm-set quince jelly that was typically flavoured with rosewater and spices.
The version above, from a seventeenth century manuscript by a renowned “gorgeous Cavalier, inmate of courts, controversialist, man of science, occultist, privateer, conspirator, lover and wit” (according to Anne MacDonnell’s introduction to the 1910 reprint edition of the Closet, Opened) is an apple version, using the “quickest” – I assume in the sense of ‘freshest’ – pippins that have not had time to fully ripen and sweeten.
After peeling, coring and cutting the fruit into large chunks, chuck them into your preserving pan and add an equal weight of sugar, then cover them with ‘fountain water’ – which I assume means clear, fresh water, so you can use tap or bottled water if you don’t have a fountain – and boil it until the mixture “gellieth” on a plate (which just goes to show that the traditional set-test method for jam-making hasn’t changed much in centuries).
Then you apparently have to leave your mixture to cool before adding lemon and orange rind, and a few spices, such as ambergris (whale vomit), musk (deer secretions), and then breaking the apples with the back of your spoon, “whiles it cooleth“. Which suggests that either the “quickest” pippins should retain their shape during boiling and will need breaking up after cooling, or Sir Kenelm forgot to mention that part earlier on in the recipe and added it in at the end. Marmulate of pippins should then last a couple of years in a (suitably sterilised) storage jar.
If you decide to turn your quickest pippin surplus into marmulate, or marmalade, or spicy apple jam, please do leave a comment below, or email me with your notes and impressions.