Seville Orange Marmalade

Olive Flynn

Marmalade cooking

Like the chutney, this is my mother’s recipe. Seville oranges only come round once a year, at the end of January and start of February, so you have to watch for them, and buy them the moment you see them. 4 Kg makes enough marmalade for the year, including jars to give to friends. Your local grocery may know the oranges just as “marmalade oranges” but they are easily distinguished by being much smaller and more varied in colour than the boringly perfect bright orange of the cultivated dessert orange. Inside they have a looser texture, lots more pips, and a pith that detaches from the skin more readily than with Valencian or Andalucian dessert oranges. You need all three of these, because prep is a pain in the butt, but well worth it.

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Makes 10lb. Prep time: 60 minutes. Cooking time: 180 minutes.


Ingredients

  • 4 Kg Seville oranges
  • 4 ℓ water
  • 3 Kg jam sugar [this is normal caster sugar with some pectin added]
  • 1 oz unsalted butter
  • 20 medium jam jars with lids if possibles
  • 1 packet jam jar covers

Method

  1. Halve the oranges and squeeze out the juice, straining it into a large measuring jug. From 4 Kg oranges you will get about a liter of juice. Pour the juice into a large preserving-pan.

  2. With a sharp-edged metal spoon (I use an old-fashioned EPNS dessert spoon) carefully scrape away all the pith from the inside of each orange half, separating it so you you can see the inside of the skin without cutting or tearing it. This is infinitely tedious but the only way to get the fine thin strips of peel necessary for high-quality marmalade.

    If you really can't face it, roughly scrape the pith from the halves but then push all the skin through a mincer using the medium mesh. It won't be as pretty but it's a lot faster.

    Wrap the pith loosely in a large muslin square and tie tightly with twine to make a bag from which no pith can escape. Add the bag to the juice in the pan.

  3. Shred the skins very finely with a very sharp large knife, unless you went for the mincing option above. Add the minced or shredded skins to the pan.

  4. Add three times the volume of juice in water, so for 1 liters of juice, add 4 liters of water. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, and boil for about 2 hrs until the skin is perfectly soft and can be crushed easily under a fingernail.

  5. When it's done, remove the bag of pith and squeeze out hard between two large plates so that all the pectin (a clear jelly that makes jam set) is recovered. Add the pectin to the pan.

  6. Add the sugar and bring back to the boil, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved, when the cloudy mixture will miraculously go clear golden orange. Boil hard, stirring occasionally, until it reaches setting point (about 105°C or 220°F), probably about an hour.

  7. As it gets done, put about 20 cleaned jam-jars with their lids separate on a baking tray and put them in the oven at 150°C or 300°F to sterilise. Put half a dozen side-plates into the fridge to chill down for the wrinkle test.

  8. Test for the temperature with a candy thermometer if you have one, or use the wrinkle test: take 1 tsp of the mix from the pan and dribble onto a cold plate. Put the plate back in the fridge for 1 minute. Take it out and push the dribble of mixture gently with the a fingernail. If it wrinkles or has already started to set, you're done. If not, keep boiling for 5 minutes and try again.

  9. When it's done, stir in the knob of butter and mix well. If you need vegan marmalade, just omit the butter.

  10. Take out the hot jars from the oven and ladle the marmalade carefully into each. Use a funnel to avoid spilling too much (I use the funnel that came with the dishwasher for adding salt, as it's exactly the right diameter for a jam jar).

  11. Hold the jars with an oven glove and twist on the lids, if you've kept them. As the mix cools, it will suck down the lid like the vacuum-packed ones you buy.

  12. If you have no lids, use the packet of jam-pot covers. These come with wax tissue circles, cellophane discs, and rubber bands. The wax paper circles go on the surface of the marmelade in the jar, and the cellophane covers the pot, held in place with a rubber band.


Serving

  • Leave to cool, label, and store. Or distribute to friends and relations. Either way, make lots of toast and butter to try it out.


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