I adore marmalade. I really enjoy the bitterness of the orange peel in contrast with the sweet jam. In fact, I just had to get up to make some toast so that I could have some marmalade because writing about it made my mouth water. Well, between you and me, I made two pieces and spread the other one with lemon curd. I think it is a well established fact that I am greedy, and now there are crumbs on the laptop.
This is the time of year for making marmalade as it needs to be made from Seville oranges and these are only available from markets in January and early February. The Seville orange is incredibly bitter and not at all one that you want to eat freshly peeled. But when mixed with a ton of sugar they make one of the best things that can be spread on toast. The lady who runs my local market tells me every year of the tale of the woman who was naughtily mixing her bag of oranges between the normal and the Seville. The Seville is usually a bit dearer and this lady thought she was going to get herself a good deal. The market owner thought it appropriate that she let her get on with it and have fun at home playing orange roulette.
Seville oranges freeze very well, so buy them when you see them and put them in the freezer for making marmalade throughout the year. In fact, I used frozen for this recipe as I mentioned to my mum that I was off to get some Sevilles and she still had some in her freezer from last year so I used those up. Use them from frozen.
I used Mary Berry’s recipe from The Aga Book. In this recipe she recommends that you simmer fresh fruit for 2 hours and frozen fruit overnight. This makes me feel better as I missed that instruction and was planning to simmer them for two hours but fell asleep watching telly and went straight to bed having forgotten all about my oranges. You see, things always work out in the end.
This recipe made loads, about 10 jars, so unless you have friends and family who are marmalade fiends too you may want to halve the recipe.
1½kg (3lb) Seville oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
3 kg (6lb) sugar
2 litres (4 pints) water
Put the whole oranges in the Aga preserving pan and squeeze in the lemon juice. Cover with the water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, place the pan carefully in the simmering oven and leave to simmer until the oranges are tender (2 hours or so for fresh fruit, overnight for frozen). Remove the oranges and leave to cool. Once cool enough to handle cut them in half and scoop out all the pulp and pips and place these back into the water. Bring to the boil and boil for 6 minutes. Strain this liquid into a large bowl through a sieve and, using a spoon, force the pulp through the sieve. It is this pulp which contains the pectin that will set the marmalade. Pour the liquid back into the preserving pan.
Cut the peel of the oranges as thinly or as thickly as you like your shreds to be and add these to the liquid, along with the sugar. Bring the whole lot up to a rolling boil and boil until setting point is reached. You can test for this with a sugar thermometer (105°c) or have a cold saucer ready and when a little is allowed to cool on this saucer it should wrinkle when pushed with your finger.
Allow the marmalade to cool a little (this will help with the distribution of peel through the jar rather than it all sitting at the top) and then pour into sterilised jars.
To sterilise your jars, wash in warm soapy water and rinse with hot water, then place on a baking tray in the simmering oven for twenty minutes.