“I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It’s amazing how it cheers one up to shred orange and scrub the floor.”
Author: D.H. Lawrence
The marmalade that I set out for breakfast for house guests this morning had them in raptures and was voted the best they had ever eaten! In my household we like a gutsy, full flavoured marmalade with proper chunks. Its not a marmalade for the faint hearted … indeed, guests caught picking out the chunks and leaving them to languish on the side of their plates – well – they don’t get asked again – not for breakfast at any rate !
“Bought marmalade? Oh dear, I call that very feeble.”
Author: Julian Fellowes
This marmalade likes to takes its time, and its preparation is best split into bite sized time chunks, or three stages to be precise. This slow preparation allows the flavour to fully develop, and the end result is a deeply flavoured dark and chunky marmalade. It also makes it exceptionally convenient for those of us who don’t have an entire day to waste watching sugar boil (although there is something totally mesmerising about doing just that). I like to prepare a large batch over a leisurely two to three days, although it has been known to take an entire week. You can of course reduce the time frame to suit you, so if you have set aside on day for its preparation that’s fine too.
Three Step Seville Orange Marmalade
Makes 5 x 500g jars
1kg Seville oranges (about 10 oranges)
1 sweet thin skinned orange
2 litres water
2kg white granulated sugar
30cm piece of muslin or equivalent of double layered cheese cloth – a 30cm length of cooks string. Jars with lids or jam pot covers, wax discs and labels. A sugar thermometer is useful.
Boiling the fruit 1 ½ hours.
Wash all of the fruits to remove any dust or you will get an unpleasant scum on the surface of your marmalade. Put the washed fruits into a large lidded pan with 2 liters of water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to gently boil the oranges for 1 ½ hours.
The fruits are cooked when they look sunken and the skin is very tender. Remove the pan from heat and leave the fruits to cool in the liquid. They are quite happily left all day or overnight. If you need to leave them for longer than 12 hours then put the cooled pan into a larder or fridge. If you are going straight on to the next stage the fruits will be cool enough to handle in about 2 hours.
Watch point – it is important that the Seville orange are well cooked at this stage or the marmalade will be bitter. If you are not sure as to their doneness then cut one in half through its middle. The pulp should be like a jelly and come away easily from the shell of the skin leaving no white pith (see picture below).
Slicing and macerating. 40 minutes preparation and then leave for 6 hours or overnight.
Put the sugar into a 5 liter heavy based pan or a jam cauldron. Remove the cooked fruits from their cooking liquid to a bowl and then pour the cooking liquid over the sugar, stir well.
Line a second bowl with the muslin or double layered cheesecloth.
On a chopping board cut the cooked fruits in half through their middles, scooping the pulp and pips with a teaspoon into the cloth lined bowl. Cut the Seville orange and lemon skins into even sized thin slices and add to the sugar and juice. NB – Discard the shell of the sweet orange as the pith is usually too thick to be nice.
When all of the fruit is prepared, draw up the edges of the muslin to form a bag, twisting the neck to allow the juices to run freely and pour this into the marmalade pan. Secure the bag with string, ensuring no holes for the pips and pulp to escape from, and hang it in the jam pan so that it will be partially submerged. I like to tie the string ends to the pan handle so that it can be removed easily, be careful not to leave any dangling to burn on the hob.
Stir the contents of the pan to disperse the sugar and leave the peel to macerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. It should become translucent and syrupy during this time.
Boiling and potting: 1 ½ hours boiling and ½ an hour potting and labelling.
Put a saucer into the deepfreeze for set testing and the clean jars into the oven at 100c for sterilizing. Have ready a sugar thermometer if using.
Stir the macerated marmalade before putting the pan over a high heat and bringing the contents to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle bubble and cook for an hour to allow the liquid level to reduce.
For the final 30 minutes boil the marmalade vigorously until it reaches setting point. If you are using a jam thermometer setting point for this marmalade is somewhere between 106-108C. You can tell from the bubbles and the colour when you are nearly there. At the outset of boiling the marmalade is a pale watery orange, this deepens to amber and the boiling bubbles change from babbling and lose to quieter and syrupy. Test for set by putting a tablespoon of the marmalade liquid into your cold saucer. After a few seconds push the marmalade with a finger the jelly will wrinkle if setting point has been reached. Remove the pan from the hob, discard the bag of pulp and pips, and skim any white foam from the surface. Let the marmalade rest for 15 minutes while you prepare for potting.
Remove the pots from the oven and put onto a heatproof surface lined with newspaper. Ladle 500ml of marmalade into a Pyrex jug ensuring the right proportion of chunks to juice, and fill a warm pot to the top, finishing with a touch of juice so that the chunks are covered. Continue until your pots are full. Pop a wax disc on top of the marmalade and fix the lids tightly. Label, cool and store, if you can, for at least three months to let the marmalade mellow.