Lady Marmalade

I am positively spoiling you this week! Having not written a single recipe last year, I’m giving you two in two weeks!

For a few short weeks in January, supermarket shelves are full of Seville oranges, which I’m sure you’re aware, can be turned into marmalade. If you’re going to make orange marmalade, and you can make it from any citrus fruit, I recommend you find yourself some Seville oranges and have a go!

I must admit that I love jams and chutneys and look forward to the summer when I can go fruit picking and can then come up with all sorts of concoctions in my kitchen.

I’ve made marmalade a couple of times; most recently last November, when I made red grapefruit and lemon marmalade, but I’ve never tried Seville orange marmalade before. I like trying new things and with the Marmalade Festival fast approaching (http://www.marmaladeawards.com/), it seemed like an opportune time.

I have seen countless recipes and methods for making Seville orange marmalade. My first attempt, though not a total disaster, was not an unmitigated success! The two tips I have taken from attempt 1 and now share with you are: 1) don’t start cutting up oranges at 10.30pm. It’s a very time consuming process! 2) after you have added the sugar and brought the marmalade to a rolling boil, don’t suddenly start tidying your kitchen shelves! Whilst the marmalade, thankfully, wasn’t completely ruined, it certainly won’t be winning any awards!

So, I turned to Pam Corbin and followed her recipe as I figured she knows what she’s doing! Pam, if you aren’t familiar with her, is something of a legend in jam circles and I knew she wouldn’t let me down! I did change one thing from her recipe, which I’ve added below, and that was warming the sugar before I added it to the marmalade.

Batch no 2 is a thing of beauty. It may not be award winning, but I’m proud of it nevertheless. If you would like to try a batch of marmalade, and it will keep for a year, I suggest you have a go at the following. As for me? I’ve got some clementines which are calling out for marmalading!

1 kg Seville oranges
Juice of 2 lemons (100mls)
2 kg golden granulated sugar

1. Scrub the oranges, remove the buttons at the top of the fruit then cut in half around their circumference. Squeeze out the juice and keep to one side.

2. Slice the fruits into the size pieces you prefer removing any marked skin and any thick pieces of the white inner pith. Save these – the pith is where the most pectin is – tie these off-cuts in a square of muslin.

3. Place the sliced peel, orange juice, pith bag in a large bowl and cover with 2 litres of water. Cover and leave to soak overnight or for up to 24 hours – this helps to soften the peel and release the pectin.

4. Transfer the whole mixture to a large heavy based pan or preserving pan. Cover and bring to the boil, then simmer for about 2 hours (Sevilles have tough old skins) or until the peel is tender and breaks when gently pulled – the contents of the pan will have reduced by approximately one- third. Remove the pith bag, first squeezing it firmly against the side of the pan to remove all its gummy goodness.

5. Warm the sugar in a preheated oven for about 5 minutes. Then add along with the lemon juice. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Boil rapidly until setting point is reached –this should take approximately 15 minutes at a full rolling boil but will depend on the size of pan you use and how hard the boil is. The marmalade is done when the mass of foamy bubbles on the surface have disappeared and the mixture appears to be thick and glossy.

6. Test for setting point by dropping of the mixture onto a very cold plate or a large stainless steel spoon – after a minute or so it should form a slight skin on the surface. Avoid over-cooking which results in a stiff overly sweet marmalade.

7. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for several minutes to allow the peel to evenly distribute – if you pour when the marmalade is too hot the peel will float to the top of the jar. Pour (to within 3 mm of the top) into sterilised jars and seal immediately.

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