The middle of January brings the first cold snap of the year and a longing to hibernate. I want to stay cocooned in bed, or curl up by a roaring fire and never leave. Everything feels a little flat after the festive period, a sense of stillness, as if waiting for the first signs of Spring. The timely arrival of Seville oranges, in season for a few precious weeks, brings some much need kitchen therapy. I love the ritual of making marmalade, the smell of the oranges bubbling away fills the house with warmth and cheer. It’s as if these bittersweet Spanish citrus fruit bring with them the promise of sunshine to come.
Every marmalade enthusiast has their own take on the best way to make it. The ingredients are pretty much the same, essentially oranges, sugar, water and lemon juice, but the method can vary considerably. I have tried several different methods and my recipe takes something from each of them, which I find works like a dream. Most marmalade fans have their preference when it comes to peel, whether chunky or fine cut and I definitely fall into the latter camp. Some prefer the dark sticky variety, but I like mine as clear as a bell, with the thinest shards of translucent peel suspended like bright jewels.
If you’ve never made marmalade before, it may seem like a lot of work, but its not at all arduous. It does take some effort to finely slice the peel, but if you are tempted to use a food processor you will undoubtably spoil the end result. I think there is something quite therapeutic and satisfying about slicing it by hand. If you needed any further encouragement to make the most of the Seville orange season, the 25th – 31st January is also British Breakfast Week . I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with breakfast in bed. A few slices of toasted sourdough , unsalted butter and a pot of freshly made Seville Orange Marmalade. Such a simple yet decadent indulgence, definitely worth coming out of hibernation for.
- 1 kg Seville Oranges ( I used organic Seville oranges from Waitrose)
- 75ml lemon juice
- 2kg golden granulated sugar (I used organic sugar)
- 2.5 litres water
- You will also need a stainless steel maslin/jam pan or very large deep saucepan, a large square of muslin, kitchen string and 7 x 340g jars, waxed discs and jam jar covers or lids
- If you are not using organic oranges, scrub them in hot water to remove any waxy residue.
- Cut in half and squeeze all the juice into a bowl, reserving any pips and pith.
- Place the pips and pith in the centre of the square of muslin and tie up with string
- Cut the squeezed orange halves in half and slice into thin or chunky strips as preferred.
- Place the peel, juice, muslin bag and water into a large stainless steel maslin or jam pan.
- Cover loosely with cling film and leave overnight somewhere cool.This helps to soften the peel and release the pectin.
- The next day remove the cling film, bring the pan to the boil and simmer for 1-2 hours or until the peel squashes easily between two fingers.
- Meanwhile, wash 7 x 340g jam jars thoroughly in hot soapy water. Rinse in very hot water and put on a baking sheet in the oven at 140C/ fan 120C/ Gas 1, until completely dry. Keep the jars hot until the marmalade is ready.
- Put 3 side plates in the freezer to get cold, you will need these to test if the marmalade has reached setting point.
- Remove the muslin bag and place in a sieve. Squeeze as much liquid as you can into the pan and then discard the muslin bag
- Add the sugar and stir gently until the sugar has full dissolved but do not let the it boil, otherwise the sugar could crystallize.
- When you can't see or feel any sugar grains, bring the pan to the boil for 20 minutes without stirring, skimming off any white 'scum'.
- After 20 minutes the marmalade will look thick and glossy. if you have a sugar thermometer you can test for setting point which is around 102C. Otherwise, take one of the cold plates from the freezer and spoon a little marmalade onto it. Leave to cool a little then run your finger through the middle, if it's ready , it will wrinkle up slightly. If not, continue to boil and test at 5 minute intervals until it does but be careful not to over boil if you like a softer set.
- When ready, remove from the heat, skim the surface again and leave to rest for 20-30 minutes. Whilst still hot pour into the sterilised jars and place a waxed disc (wax side down) on top of the hot preserve. Make sure that the top of the jar is clean, moisten one side of a cellophane cover with a drop of water and position on top of the jar, damp side uppermost. Secure with an elastic band and the cellophane will contract to form a tight seal.
- Label and store in a dark place.