Thursday, 23 January 2014

Seville Orange Marmalade

Marmalade is one of those foods that really seem to have gone out of fashion. Whereas once it was commonplace on the breakfast table, these days the trend seems to be more towards breakfast cereals and foods that can be quickly consumed. I think that this is a dreadful shame as there is something so unique about the taste of a good orange marmalade made with Seville oranges. I should point out that I am by no means suggesting that the preserve can only be used at breakfast time; as a fervent marmalade devotee I believe you should consume it when and wherever takes your fancy!

A good marmalade is initially sweet on the tongue but this quickly gives way to a bitterness, which truly celebrates the flavour of the oranges that are used. Seville oranges are not your usual type of orange. Firstly they are quite tart and definitely need the addition of some type of sweetness to halt their sour bitterness; but it is this very quality that makes them ideal for use in making marmalade. Secondly they are usually only available in January/February of each year. Although January is without a doubt the dreariest of months – a month to endure and just get through – the one thing that definitely brightens it for me is the arrival of Seville oranges in the grocery shop.

There is nothing like homemade marmalade. It just tastes so delicious. To me toast with marmalade is comfort food of the highest order. If also accompanied with a large mug of my favourite tea, it’s one of those things that will always manage to make me feel as if all’s right with the world.
 
Yes it is time consuming to make your own marmalade from scratch, but if you like the taste of marmalade, the sense of achievement you will feel seeing the newly potted jars of the preserve with their jewel-like coloured contents sparkling at you, is great to experience.
 
Normally, I prefer to be hands on in the kitchen and will forgo the use of kitchen gadgets, opting to get stuck in with my hands instead. When juicing citrus fruits for recipes, I usually use the carved wooden juicer that I have had for years… but NOT when I am making marmalades. It is labour intensive having to juice so many fruits. More juice always seems to get on me than in the container/jug into which I am trying to squeeze the extracted juice. For this reason I always hunt out from the back of the kitchen cupboard, the electric citrus juicer that my husband and I were given as a gift on our wedding day and it really does the job so effectively. The electric juicer may only see the light of day a couple of times during the year, but on those occasions, it is invaluable and I always think fondly of the person who gave it to us!
 
To sterilise your jars, wash them well in hot soapy water and then rinse thoroughly. Place in a baking tray in a low oven to dry completely.
 

Ingredients:

1kg Seville oranges
3.4 litres of water
2kg granulated sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
 

Method:

1. Halve the oranges and squeeze the juice into a large saucepan.
2. Scoop out the pips, pith and any remaining pulp and place into a sieve. Put the orange skins/peel to one side.
3. Using a wooden spoon squeeze as much residual liquid into the saucepan as you can get. Don’t discard the pips, pith and pulp, but rather tie it up in a square of muslin and add to the saucepan with the liquid.
4. Chop the orange peel into fairly fine shreds, or as I prefer chop it coarsely. Also add this to the saucepan. Add the water and lemon juice and leave everything to soak overnight.
Next day:
5. Place 4 small saucers in the freezer to chill for use later in testing setting point.
6. Put the saucepan over a moderate heat and bring up to a simmer. Allow to simmer for approximately 2 hours until the peel has softened. You may need less time if you have shredded the peel finely.
7. Remove the muslin bag and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Weigh the juice and simmered peel. There should be 1500g – 1600g. If there is less, add a little extra water to bring it up to 1500g.
8. Add the sugar to the saucepan and heat everything over a low heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves.
9. When the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and bring up to the boil. Do NOT stir whilst the marmalade is boiling. After 8-10 minutes test for setting point.
Testing for setting point:
10. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the bubbling mixture to calm down a little and the bubbles subside. Spoon a little liquid onto one of the saucers from the freezer. Wait 30 seconds and push the marmalade along the plate with your finger. Setting point has been achieved when the marmalade “wrinkles” and the marmalade is not runny. If it’s not at setting point, return the saucepan to the heat and boil for a further 2 minutes. Test again and repeat this process as necessary. To be honest I use a sugar thermometer, and once you it hits 105C, setting point has been reached!
11. Leave the marmalade to stand for 15 minutes and is starting to thicken. Spoon off any scum and discard.
12. Pot up the marmalade into sterilised jars, seal and label. Store in a cool, dark cupboard for up to a year.
 

Makes 1.5kg approximately.