January again, Seville oranges are in season, and it’s time for making marmalade! I love making marmalade – it makes the house smell wonderful, the product is delicious, naturally gluten free, and I get to feel like a proper homemaker.
Seville oranges have rough, thick peel, are usually quite small and don’t have much by way of ‘insides’. You certainly wouldn’t choose to eat them as fresh fruit. They are only available for a few weeks out of the year, but if you don’t have time to make marmalade in late January – early February, you could freeze the oranges and make it later. I haven’t tried this, but I’m told it will work (and I don’t see why it wouldn’t).
Apart from fruit and sugar, you will need a large pan, muslin squares to hold the pips, clean sterilised jam jars and lids. This will make about 10 lbs of marmalade. I’ve made 28 lbs of marmalade so far this month …
Light Seville Orange Marmalade
3 lbs of Seville oranges
5 pints of water
6 lbs of sugar
Wash the fruit well, and then juice them. Tip the juice into the big pan, and reserve the pips. I do this by propping a sieve over the pan, lining the sieve with a muslin square, and then tipping the juice through the muslin. The juice goes through, and the pips stay on the muslin.
Scrape out the membranes and remaining pips from inside the fruit, and tip these onto the muslin too. Tie up the pips and membranes inside the muslin and add to the pan. These contain the pectin that will make the marmalade set, so they are important.
Slice the peel thinly (thickness to choice here!) and add to the juice. If the pith (the white bit) seems really thick, you could trim it off a bit, but I never bother with this.
Add the water. Do not add the sugar yet! If you add the sugar too soon, before the peel has softened, you’ll end up with a chewy hard marmalade.
Bring to the boil, and then simmer for about 2 hours until about half the contents of the pan have evaporated.
If the peel is soft enough – check that it will break easily – you can now add the sugar. Bring back to the boil, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved, and boil hard for about 15 minutes or until the setting point is reached.
To check for the setting point, scoop out a spoonful of the marmalade, and pour it onto a cool plate or saucer. When it has cooled a bit, push it along the plate with your finger or the end of a spoon. If the marmalade wrinkles as you push it, it is setting.
Remove from the heat, and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes. This helps ensure that the peel doesn’t sink to the bottom of the jars.
Then pour into the clean sterilised jars, and cover. To cover the marmalade, use either screw top lids, tightening them while the marmalade is still hot, to create a vacuum, or cover with a waxed paper disc while still hot – to create the vacuum) and then a cellophane cover and rubber band. Don’t use both the screw top and the wax disc.
Dark Seville Orange Marmalade – add a couple of tablespoons of molasses or black treacle with the sugar.
Coriander Orange Marmalade – add a tablespoon of crushed coriander seeds to the pips to enhance the orange flavour.