As a follow-up to my previous post about Seville Oranges, here's a recipe for using the fruit. The Seville Orange is generally at its peak around the end of January; look for the fruit to be somewhat heavy, though it won't ever be as juicy as a Valencia or Navel orange. Pick firm, well-colored fruit with fairly tight and undamaged skins. Even on a single tree, some Seville Oranges will be rough and pebbly, while others will be smooth; this won't make any difference in their use.
The recipe may look complicated on paper, but it's really pretty simple.
Traditional Seville Orange Marmalade
Makes six 1-lb jars
- 2 lbs Seville oranges, plus one more orange
- 4 lbs granulated sugar
- 4 pints water
- a large, heavy-based saucepan or stockpot
- a 10-inch square of muslin and some string, or a jelly bag
- two china saucers
- a funnel and a ladle
- six 1 lb canning jars, sterilized, and lids
First, lightly rinse the oranges to remove any dust, using a soft vegetable brush if necessary. Measure the 4 pints water into your pan, and place the muslin or jelly bag over a bowl.
Cut the oranges in half and juice them; an electric juicer is easiest, but not necessary. Add the juice to the water in the pan and place the seeds and any pith that clings to the juicer on the square of muslin or in the jelly bag. Cut the orange peel into quarters with a sharp knife, and then cut each quarter into thin shreds. Add the shreds to the water and any seeds or pith you come across go onto the muslin. The pith is very high in pectin so don't discard any and don't worry about any pith and skin that sticks to the shreds – it will get dissolved in the boiling.
Tie the seeds and pith up loosely in the muslin to form a little bag, or cinch up your jelly bag, and loop the string over the handle of the pan so that the bag is suspended in the liquid. Bring the liquid up to simmering point and adjust the heat to simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 hours or thereabouts, until the peel is completely soft (test a piece by pressing it between your fingers). Meanwhile, chill the saucers in the freezer compartment of the fridge.
Once the peel is soft, remove the bag and leave it to cool in a bowl. Pour the sugar into the pan and stir it over low heat, until it's completely dissolved. Increase the heat to very high and then squeeze the cooled bag of seeds and pith over the pan to extract all of the slimy stuff that contains the pectin. As you squeeze you'll see it ooze out. Squeeze it with your hands or between two saucers, and then strip the goo into the pan, stirring it into the sugar and peel mixture.
As soon as the mixture reaches a really fast boil, start your timer. After 15 minutes spoon a little of the marmalade on to one of the cold saucers from the freezer, and let it cool back in the fridge. You can tell – when it has cooled – if you have a "set" by pushing the mixture with your finger: if it crinkles a bit, it's set. If not, continue to boil the marmalade and give it the same test at about 10-minute intervals until it does set. If you've had it at a really fast boil, the 15 minutes should be enough.
After the marmalade is set, remove the pan from the heat and pour the marmalade into the jars, using the funnel and ladle, and seal immediately. Label when cool and store in a dry, cool, dark place.
- The key to this marmalade is to simmer gently for the full two hours, stirring occasionally, so that the peel is cooked through and soft; this prevents the peel from “floating” in the jar.
- The key to getting a good “set” is to bring the mixture to a really fast rolling boil after adding the sugar, counting the 15 minutes only after it has reached the boil.
- As you fill the jars, stir the marmalade a bit with the ladle so that each jar gets about the same amount of peel.
- If your marmalade for some reason doesn't set, there's really only one thing you can do: label it as "sauce" instead of marmalade and use it as a glaze for pork roast and a topping for cheesecake. Never admit defeat.