The day I made Homemade Seville orange marmalade

Friday, January 24, 2020

January is Seville orange season! I've gleaned plenty of good country know-how from fellow allotmenteers but the one that has really piqued my interest was making marmalade. We've made copious jams, jellies and preserves over the last few years but as we haven't got an orange grove (funnily enough), the idea of making marmalade didn't strike me as relevant. I remember on a holiday visit to Dalemain we were ushered into their kitchens where a batch of marmalade was being made and the smell was divine, it really stuck with me. They host the Marmalade Awards each year.

However, after a few nudges from the ladies I've decided to take the plunge and go for it myself. They did say it's fiddly.
I wanted to make sure I had a reliable recipe to follow - no cheats or tweaks, something traditional. I found Delia's recipe and knew this was the one, not to mention it had a video to follow which made more sense of the instructions.
I knew it was Seville oranges I needed and that January is the time to get them. I was thinking of trying the market but as Tesco had them I caved early and bought 2kg. The recipe uses 1 kg but I thought if I'm going to have all that faff I at least want a good few jars out of it, so made a double batch.
I won't recount the recipe or method precisely as Delia's is far superior to my tale of strife but let me tell you this: to squeeze the contents of 2kg of oranges and put all the 'bits and pips' in a muslin took me well over an hour and I wondered if I might be delirious with the zesty aroma. A bit fiddly does not cover it!
Although Delia said not to worry about some of the pith I fretted and gave each empty husk a little clean up with a teaspoon so I was satisfied they were as clean as could be.

A rather untidy muslin of bits! The juice went straight into a pan with the water. Next the peel needed chopping. You get thin cut or thick cut marmalade but mine I would call mixed cut and frankly it's lucky to all be cut at all because this took FOREVER too. I preferred to cut each half in half, press the which side flat on the board and pull the knife top to bottom in quick succession rather than scrunch up. Yes, I'm slovenly on finesse but that's tough, it will taste the same (even if texture may differ from one mouthful to another).
There was such a mountain of peel that even my large preserving pan was not big enough so I tipped some into a separate pan. I the big one the muslin was dangled in and tied up like a buoy and left to simmer gently for a couple of hours.

A fair amount of evaporation took place which pleasingly meant both pans could be put back into one. The bag of bits was taken out and squeezed. This was the worst part because in the video it looks easy and you scrape the goo off the bag with a spoon but when I did it the goo just went all over my hands and I felt like an idiot!
What remained of the goo went into the pan along with what looks like a monumental amount of sugar. Delia explained that as the sugar preserves it, the very bitter Seville oranges balance it out - of course sweeter oranges would make for a sweet jam instead. I was very cautious about making sure the sugar was all dissolved but well after an hour of checking, stirring and waiting, even my caution was thrown to the wind in favour of cracking on.
A rolling boil (I recounted it incorrectly to C as a roaring boil which does sound equally as dangerous) is reached my cranking it up to full whack and standing back as furiously swelling molten lava threatens to burn your face.
A stir every now and again to avoid burning it on the bottom of the pan. After an alarming 15 minutes the first test took place (not set) and I learned that you must take it off the heat during the test else what you have tested is 3 minutes behind what you have - that's where I've blundered before.
On the second test I was happy with the result, so dissolved a little butter around on the scum which pretty much all disappeared.
I ate most of the test sample before snapping.
The jar preparation took ages too, I wanted to remove old labels before washing and sterilising.

Then finally, finally, I poured it into jars and cleaned up. Start to finish it was 7 hours of my life. So yes, a bit fiddly and long winded but I do have 16 jars of amazing marmalade to eat and give as gifts. My Dad likes marmalade and always used to make me try it on toast , which I loathed but now it's something I love!

This was not cheap to make, in fact it cost a lot even without factoring my labour but I have made something pretty amazing.

If you want to make some for yourself you had better get your skates on and buy those oranges!!! Allow a good amount of time.
Have you made marmalade before or are you tempted to give it a go?

Take care,
Sophie

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1 comments

  1. It's great to hear about this process! I am WAY too much of a chicken to try this! I am too scared of sweet cooking and burning myself! It looks really good!
    There is a Marmaladers Party at my music camp- they make hundreds of jars for the year's camps!

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Sometimes I am sent items to feature as part of a post and these will be clearly mentioned as part of each post.Everything else is bought by myself. Any sponsored or collaboration posts will be clearly marked. Each post is my own content and all opinions are honest.