“Sticky, bittersweet Seville orange marmalade is a taste of the sun on toast. And making your own is the best fun to be had in the kitchen.” Nigel Slater.
Seville orange season is impeccably timed to coincide with the coldest, darkest time of year, offering longed-for colour and flavour. While preserving is most often associated with the Summer, there’s just something so much more comforting about tending a simmering pot of amber marmalade on a crisp, cold day. Marmalade is particularly precious due to the short, sweet (or sour, rather) season of the citrus fruit, available only in January and February. Marmalade days are culinary mindfulness at its most sensory. Each step of the process is a feast of colour, scent, taste and texture. The intensely flavoured preserve distils the bittersweet flavour of orange like nothing else, and the process is pure alchemy.
To make it, you will need:
500g Seville oranges
1kg demerara sugar
1.25 litres of water
A large, heavy bottomed pan or preserving pan
This recipe makes around 3 medium sized jars (just over a kilo of marmalade).
1) First, wash the oranges and scrub so they’re perfectly clean. Cut the oranges in half and squeeze into the pan, using a sieve to catch any pips, pith and flesh. Transfer this to the muslin and make into a bag, tied tightly with string.
2) Cut the peel into strips – the size depends on your preference. I like mine in nice thin shreds. Regardless of size, make sure it’s consistent so the peel cooks evenly.
3) Put the shredded peel into the pan and add 1.25 litres of water and the muslin bag. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours, or until the peel is cooked through.
4) Remove the muslin bag and set aside to cool completely. Wash your jars in warm soapy water, then transfer to a low oven to dry. This will sterilise them. Boil the lids in a pan of boiling water to sterilise. Put some saucers in the fridge to cool down to test your set shortly.
5) Once cooled, squeeze the muslin bag into the marmalade mixture. Return to the heat and bring to a simmer, adding the sugar then stirring it until it is completely dissolved.
6) Raise the heat and boil rapidly until the marmalade reaches setting point – 104C. It’s worth using a sugar thermometer to keep you on track, but I always check the set by placing a teaspoon of marmalade onto a freezing cold saucer and putting it in the fridge for a minute or two, then applying the wrinkle test: if you put your finger through it and a clear line is left behind, it’s ready. If not, keep boiling and check every few minutes.
7) Allow to sit for 20 minutes or so (this lets the peel settle). At this stage you can add extra flavours. Personal favourites of mine include cardamom, ginger or vanilla to complement the bitterness of the preserve. Stir in, then decant into your prepared jars.
Enjoy generously slathered on sourdough toast with melted butter.
Recipe by me!