Come January and preservers everywhere are pulling out their pans as Seville oranges hit the shops for a brief window of opportunity. Last year was my first attempt to make marmalade from scratch, having never done so before due to my belief that i didn’t like marmalade. I now realise that i didn’t like mass-produced, shop bought marmalade. The real deal is a different story indeed – spread some a-top home-made toasted bread (if you’re lucky enough to live with 2 artisan bread-makers) and melting butter….a moment of solace every morning.
I use Darina Allen’s recipe from her excellent book ‘Forgotten Skills of Cooking’. The advantage of her method is that you don’t have to spend several tedious hours chopping up the hard, waxy peel, before soaking it overnight. She calls it the ‘whole orange’ method – namely, boil the fruit for several hours to soften, making the chopping a breeze, especially if you use the slicer function on the Magimix (which all self-respecting kitchens should have..)
So, start with 2.25kg of seville oranges in a large preserving pan, add 9 pints of water, and boil for around 2 hours. Place a plate/smaller lid on the oranges to keep them submerged. Leave to sit overnight, then drain, reserving the water.
Cut the oranges in half and scoop out the soft centre. Put the pips in a muslin bag. Finely slice the peel (manually if you dare…)
Put everything back in the pan, bring to the boil and reduce by half-two thirds.
Add 4kg of warmed, granulated sugar. (If you pour in cold sugar, it takes longer to return to the boil, which is supposed to affect the fresh flavour.) Boil hard until you reach setting point. If you have a thermometer, that’s 104*C. Otherwise, put a spot on a plate and refrigerate. After a few minutes, if it forms a wrinkly skin when touched, its ready. (Note: i have never actually managed to achieve firm, well set marmalade, no matter how long i have boiled it. I guess you could sneak in a bit of jam sugar, but i quite like it a bit runny.)
Pot in sterlised jars and cover immediately. If you don’t have a jam funnel, buy one. Its worth it! And voila – a year’s supply of golden nectar, including a give-away allowance for lucky acquaintances and nice people in your life.