I know this post comes a bit late for the Seville orange season but I’ve been somewhat preoccupied with house hunting recently, hence the delay in writing this. Still, you can make marmalade at any time of year using normal oranges or other citrus fruit, so there’s no reason to wait if you fancy a spot of marmaladary.
This was my first attempt at making marmalade, and from what I can tell, it didn’t turn out too badly. I’ve given some away to family members so I’ll be asking for their honest verdict.
I amalgamated several different recipes – as I often do – after initially being inspired by Nigel Slater’s recipe in The Kitchen Diaries II. The recipe given here is what I did this time round, but I’ll probably make some adjustments next time (which I’ve mentioned within the recipe).
(As usual, please excuse the mishmash of metric and imperial quantities)
- A lemon
- 1.3kg of Seville oranges
- 1lb of sugar for every pint of resulting liquid (I used preserving sugar which has larger flakes, but granulated is cheaper and would be just as effective. Just make sure you don’t use jam sugar with the added pectin.)
- Grated fresh ginger (optional)
Gently zest the lemon and juice it. Put the zest and juice in a bowl and put any pips onto a clean square of muslin. Chop what’s left of the lemon and add it to the muslin. Cut the oranges in half and squeeze out the juice into the bowl, again adding any pips to the muslin. I can recommend using one of those little wooden pointy things to do your squeezing.
I juiced the oranges one by one into a smaller bowl before de-seeding and adding to the larger bowl, as this made the seeds easier to pick out. However, there were still a few seedy bits left in the finished product, so in future I would consider just juicing all the oranges into a big bowl and sieving the juice for a clearer result. The contents of the sieve could then be added to the muslin.
Scoop the rest of the flesh from each orange (I used a metal ice cream scoop to do this) and add to the square of muslin, leaving half shells of skin and pith. Trim off any dodgy bits from the oranges and add these to the muslin as well. The reason for doing this with the flesh and pips is to add additional pectin to the marmalade to help it set.
This is what you should end up with:
Tie up the muslin securely into a bag, and put it in the larger bowl of juice, along with the half orange ‘shells’. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave it in the fridge overnight.
The next day, add the juice, muslin bag and orange peel shells into a preserving pan or other large receptacle. Add 2.5 litres of water. This seemed like a lot of water to me, but it boils down and concentrates the flavour, so don’t panic.
Bring all this to the boil and allow it to simmer on a low heat for one and a half to two hours, or until the orange skins are nicely tender. Turn off the heat and allow to cool a bit. Once the orange skins are cool enough to handle, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon. Scrape out any excess pith (again, I used an ice cream scoop) into another clean square of muslin. Tie up the muslin and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible into the pan. This liquid is rich in pectin and will help further with the set.
Remove the muslin bag of flesh and pips and again, squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. I untied the muslins and scraped out the pulp before washing them ready for re-use, but you can always just throw them away if you can’t be bothered with all that.
Slice your orange peel into your choice of strips or chunks. Obviously, if you prefer shredless marmalade, you can just bin them. I sliced mine into very fine strips, but only used a few of the orange shells as while I like shredded marmalade, I don’t want too much of it in there.
Add the strips back to the pan and measure the amount of liquid you have. I had three pints. I was a bit confused about how much sugar to use as the recipes I’d read varied widely. Some calculated the amount of sugar to the original weight of the oranges, some just gave a specific amount and so on. I decided to stick with what I know and used the ratios I use for jelly – i.e. 1lb of sugar for every pint of liquid.
I divided my mixture into two batches of one and a half pints each, making one into normal marmalade (normalade) and adding a couple of heaped tablespoons of fresh peeled and grated ginger to the other. I did consider adding whisky and other spices, but thought this might be better suited to a regular orange marmalade (which I will probably try at some point).
So, once you’ve added your sugar to your juice/ peel mixture, bring it to the boil and basically boil the shit out of it until it reaches the setting point. I’ve always used a jam thermometer for this bit, but now find that my preserve-making instincts have developed sufficiently to allow me to judge fairly accurately when the setting point has been reached. As a result, I went ‘freestyle’ for my second batch (much like Luke Skywalker in the attack on the Death Star where he switches off his targeting computer). I still use the method of putting a plate in the freezer before I start and spooning some of the marmalade onto the cold plate to check for a set (easier said than done when you’re standing over a pot of what is essentially boiling syrup with a teaspoon, tentatively trying to spoon it out). If it wrinkles when you push your finger through it, it’s ready. I also find that another indicator of the setting point is when the mixture settles to a slower, bubbling boil rather than a frothing, rolling boil.
Once it’s ready, turn off the heat and leave it to sit for a bit to allow it to set slightly. This will prevent the strips of peel from sinking to the bottom of the jars. Decant into hot, sterilized jars and seal.
Makes about 6 jars of marmalade.