JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Saturday, March 03, 2007


It's a bit late in the season to be writing about making marmalade, because you'd be lucky to find any Seville oranges at all now (although there were still a few around last week). However, I had a spectacular disaster in January, and have only just now got round to starting again. And it has turned out to be the best marmalade I've ever made, so I'm writing down what I did in the hope that I'll be able to do it again next year!

January's disaster nearly burnt the house down - I put 4.5 kilos of Seville oranges into my biggest pan, covered them with water and put them on to boil. The idea was to bring them to the boil, put the lid on the pan, and cook the oranges slowly in a very low oven all day, so that I could finish the marmalade in the evening when I came back from a visit to Bath. Unfortunately, I forgot the second part, drove to Reading, caught the train, arrived an hour later, drove to Rosie and Stephen's, and had finished lunch when I suddenly remembered the oranges on the top of the stove. I rang Amy, who lives two villages away and who has a key to the house, and she nobly went out to the rescue (it was the day of the big storm which blew over several of our trees). By the time she got there, there was an inch of black stuff at the bottom of the pan. It took nearly a week of soaking then scrubbing to get the pan back to normal!

This time I boiled 2 kg of Seville oranges in 2 litres of water; they bubbled away for about an hour, and towards the end of the cooking time I topped up the water (from the kettle, so as not to slow down the process). I left this to cool overnight.

Next day, I scooped out the oranges and drained them in a colander over the pan, and pulled them in half. I scraped the flesh (there's not much in a Seville) and pips, which I added to the liquid. I boiled this up for about five minutes. Meanwhile, I sliced the orange skins in the Magimix, which gave a pleasing variety - some huge slices, some tiny, and many in between.

Then I strained the liquid, and added 3kg of sugar (the special sort for marmalade-making, although ordinary sugar works just as well, because of all the pectin in the pips). When it was dissolved (over a low heat), I added the peel, brought the mixture up to a boil, and then boiled it hard for not quite 10 minutes, until it had been at the "jam" setting on my sugar thermometer for a couple of minutes.

I left it to cool for about 10 minutes before bottling it, which allowed the foam to subside completely.

Perfect set, not too hard, but not runny, either.

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