Seville Orange Marmalade - Recipes from a Cornish Farmhouse
Bitter Seville oranges make the most divine marmalade but they’re only in the shops for a few short weeks each winter, so now’s the time to grab some whilst you can.
For me, the calming ritual of marmalade-making marks the beginning of a new year and is something to look forward to after the craziness of Christmas. So, from the beginning of January, you’ll find me stalking our local greengrocer, ready to snap up enough of the knobbly fruit to make sufficient marmalade to last me through the year. It never does seem to though! With the radio on, a pot of coffee bubbling beside me and the kitchen filled with a warm sweet orangey fug, there really is no nicer place to be on a cold, dark winter’s day.
I’ll often pop a jar, whilst I have some, into the welcome baskets of our holiday cottages, so our guests can enjoy some sunshine for breakfast. Bittersweet and dark, this is a grown-up marmalade, and I’m frequently asked for the recipe.
So here it is, a secret no more. Let me know how you get on!
Seville Orange Marmalade Recipe
Makes around 7lbs or 3kg
1.5 kg Seville oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
2 kg demerara sugar
1 kg granulated sugar
2.25 litres water
Scrub the oranges, removing the little buttons and any labels.
Squeeze as much juice as you can from the oranges. Sieve out any pips, which can be put on the compost heap, then pour the juice into a large preserving pan or a great big stock pot.
Now slice your orange husks, pith and all, and add them to the pan. Don’t be alarmed by the pith, it melts away as it cooks, so you won’t notice it in the finished product, but it helps the marmalade to set and adds a lovely, slightly bitter edge that cuts through the sugary sweetness. Cut each orange half in half again, lay the two pieces on top of one another and use a very sharp knife to slice them together. Personally I like my marmalade with a chunky home-made feel (me? lazy?) but you may prefer yours more refined, so slice them as finely as you like, or have the patience for – singing along to the radio helps pass the time (Pirate FM, of course).
Pour the cold water over the oranges and juice, put the pan on the heat and bring to the boil. Cook gently, uncovered, until the peel is soft when crushed between your fingers, which takes around 2 hours. I like to do this in a low oven, around 110ºC, as I can go away and leave it and get on with other things and the kitchen doesn’t fill with steam, but you can do this on the hob if you prefer.
Put your bags of sugar somewhere warm whilst the oranges are cooking – I rest mine on top of the Aga but an airing cupboard, on top of a radiator or similar would work. This step isn’t essential but it does make the sugar dissolve a lot faster when you come to add it to the oranges.
Just before the oranges are ready, wash your jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse. This recipe should yield around 7lb or 3-3.5kg of marmalade – so if you’re using 8oz/225g jars you’ll need around 14. If you’re using Bonne Maman style jars (and they are pretty) you’ll need 10-ish. Prep a few more than you think you’ll need just in case, it’s never the same twice.
Heat the hob to medium, remove the preserving pan from the oven and place on the hob. Pop your jars and lids into the now empty oven to dry and sterilise whilst you finish making your marmalade.
Pop half a dozen saucers into the freezer to cool.
Add the warmed demerara and granulated sugars to the pan along with the juice of your two lemons. Stir for a few minutes to dissolve – this is important, you don’t want the marmalade to come to the boil before the sugar is dissolved. Stir until you can’t feel any more gritty sugar on the base of the pan and then check the back of your spoon for crystals – if you can still see some, stir some more. Once dissolved, whack the heat up to full and bring to a rolling boil.
Boil for 15 minutes then drop a teaspoonful onto a chilled saucer. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes then push with your finger – if it wrinkles it’s ready, if it doesn’t boil for 5 more minutes and try again. Repeat until the marmalade wrinkles a little when pushed. At this point remove the pan from the heat and leave to settle for 10 minutes.
Remove your jars from the oven. Give the pan a good stir to evenly distribute the peel and beat in any scum that’s formed on the top. Ladle into the warm jars and pop the lids on tight. Leave to cool completely before labelling. Enjoy!
- The demerara sugar is what makes the marmalade dark and treacly, the secret sauce if you like. But if you don’t have any, or if you prefer a paler, sweeter marmalade, then feel free to use all white granulated sugar instead.
- Whilst it’s obviously delicious spread thickly on toast there are so many other ways to enjoy it. Use it in place of treacle in an old-fashioned steamed pudding, brush over ham for the final 15 minutes of cooking time, add a tablespoon to fruit cakes to keep them deliciously moist, put a dollop in your mincemeat when making mince pies, add it to icing for an orange drizzle cake, enjoy a blob on your rice pudding and of course don’t forget to use it in your emergency sandwiches like Paddington Bear (he was onto something actually, there’s no better pick-me-up than a marmalade sandwich).
- No time to make marmalade in January or February? Buy a bag of Seville oranges whilst they’re available and throw them, as is, into the freezer. Defrost at a later date when you have the time.
- Missed the Seville orange window of opportunity altogether? Try using a combination of sweet oranges, grapefruits and lemons to make up the 1.5kg fruit.
- Like it boozy? Add a slug of whisky to the pan before ladling the marmalade into jars.
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