The uplifting aroma created by squeezing, juicing and shredding sour oranges to create bitter marmalade is a rewarding seasonal ritual. Seville oranges are ready to pick from mid December, although they can normally be found in the shops from the first week of January. Their short season lasts until March. For the best results, we like to source organic fruit from Gospa Citrus.
Follow our tips for making great marmalade…
If you are preserving at home, try to resist the temptation to double the recipe, else you may find it tricky to achieve the best set. The capacity of a commercial stove is needed to reach the high temperatures needed to create consistent results.
Try to source organic Seville oranges as they are grown with care and attention throughout the year. Other brands may be sourced from roadside groves and it is likely the fruit is covered in combustion fumes.
Seek out cane sugar rather than beet. This will give you a clear gel and a great set. Always make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved before you raise the temperature on your conventional hob or AGA simmering plate. We like Billingtons but if you prefer to use granulated, white sugar then Tate & Lyle is ideal. If a packet from an alternative brand does not state whether it is cane sugar, then it is most likely to be beet.
If you re-use jam jars, make sure that they are sterilised before using them. We also recommend purchasing new lids to ensure that they have a great seal.
If you have a traditional style AGA and not a Total Control or a Dual Control, then take care to maintain the stored heat which will be needed to achieve a set. Utilise the simmering oven to cook your peel and also warm the sugar in the simmering oven, before you add it to the cooked peel. This will help you to keep the boiling plate down until you need the high temperature and are ready to bring the fruit pulp to setting point.
For our recipe, to make traditional Seville orange marmalade, you will need…
To make 6 x 450 g (1lb) jars you will need:
6 x 450 g (1lb) jam jars new or recycled and sterilised with new food safe lids
8 litre (approx. 16 pints) stainless steel pan with lid
Clean muslin square and kitchen string
675g (1lb 8oz) Seville oranges
1 large unwaxed lemon
Approximately 1350g (3lb) granulated cane sugar
1.75 litres (3pints) water
Wash oranges and lemon, cut in half and squeeze juice. Reserve juice in pan.
Remove lemon zest, wrap well and freeze to use another time.
Line a bowl with muslin square and reserve pips.
Cut orange halves once more so that the peel is in quarters.
Carefully remove the membranes using side of a teaspoon and finely by hand or use a processor adding a little of the water if necessary.
Add chopped membranes with reserved pips. Secure inside muslin square using kitchen string. Add this to the pan.
The following day, place pan on AGA boiling plate or over a high heat on your conventional hob. Bring water to the boil. Remove lid and reduce heat. Simmer oranges until peel is soft and tender and the volume of liquid has reduced by one third. Alternatively transfer pan to your AGA simmering oven to cook peel.
Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of your peel and cooking method. Check the pan regularly.
Once peel is tender, remove muslin bag and discard contents to compost heap. Measure volume of liquid remaining including peel. Calculate 450g (1lb) sugar for every half litre (1 pint) of liquid.
Pre heat oven 140 C or Gas Mark 1 and prepare to sterilise jars – see cook’s tips.
Warm sugar in conventional oven or pop into AGA simmering oven.
Place orange slices and liquid into a clean pan over medium heat on conventional hob or on the AGA simmering plate.
Add warmed sugar and stir slowly until completely dissolved.
Increase heat on conventional hob or transfer pan to your AGA boiling plate. Bring contents of pan to a rapid boil. Do not stir but watch carefully and test for setting after five minutes of rapid boiling. If using a sugar thermometer the marmalade should reach 104.5 C for setting point.
Remove from heat and allow to stand for at least five minutes. If necessary remove any scum at this stage.
Stir gently to distribute peel. Pot and seal.
Date and label the marmalade when it is cold.
Recycle glass jars and wash thoroughly in very hot water.
Allow them to dry naturally and then sterilise in a preheated oven set above 85 C for fifteen minutes.
Buy new lids to ensure that you create a good seal when the marmalade is potted up.