If you are short of time or have a sudden urge to make a batch of marmalade in one day, you can leave out the overnight soaking; it will just take longer to soften the peel before you add the sugar. As with all fruit, the weight of Seville oranges varies according to size, but, as a guide, 1kg is equal to 8–12 oranges. In addition to the three key ingredients – oranges, lemon and sugar–you will need some gauze or muslin.
1kg bitter Seville oranges
juice of 1 fat lemon
2kg granulated sugar
Put the radio on. Halve the oranges and, using the tip of a knife, flick out any obvious pips on to a double-layered square of gauze (or muslin), about 30 x 30cm. Squeeze the juice from the oranges into a very large bowl (or a large lidded plastic box), add any extra pips from the squeezer to the gauze and add any fleshy bits of orange to the bowl.
Now, cut each orange half into quarters and, using a knife, scrape out the membranes inside – put these and any more pips you find on to the gauze square. The next job is to shred the pithy peel as uniformly as possible into thin, medium or chunky shreds, as you wish; discard the buttons from the ends of the fruit as you go.
Transfer the shredded peel to the bowl too. Gather the gauze square together to form a money-bag shape, twist the top and tie it with string – an extra pair of hands comes in useful here. When you tie the string, leave one long end – you can use this to tie the gauze pouch on to the pan handle and immerse it in the liquid when you cook the peel. Put the pouch into the bowl to join the peel and juice. Add 2.25 litres of cold water, making sure everything is as immersed in the water as it can be, then cover with cling film (or a lid) and leave it overnight. I usually put the bowl in the cellar or garage.
The next day, tip everything from the bowl into a preserving pan and tie the gauze pouch to the pan handle so it sits on the base of the pan. Bring the whole lot to simmering point over a low–medium heat and simmer the peel until it is really soft – you should be able to squish it easily in your fingers; this will take about 1½ hours. The liquid will reduce as the peel simmers, and you will see a tidemark around the inside of the pan.
Once the peel is soft enough, remove the gauze pouch from the pan, pressing it against the side with the back of a wooden spoon as you do so to extract as much pectin as possible from the pith and pips – put the pouch into a bowl and leave it for 10 minutes to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, halve and squeeze the lemon and tip the lemon juice into the pan with the sugar; stir over a low heat. Give the gauze pouch a final squeeze to extract the last of the pectin into the marmalade; wearing clean washing-up gloves makes
this easier. You can now discard the pouch, as its work is done.
Pre-heat the oven to 140°C/fan 120°C/gas1.
Keep stirring the marmalade from time to time to help dissolve the sugar. This is an important stage, so make sure all the sugar has dissolved before you move on to the next; it can take 15 minutes or so. I find that any pips I have missed usually pop to the surface at this point; scoop them out with a teaspoon. Put a few saucers in the freezer for the wrinkle test and put your jars and lids in the oven for 15–20 minutes to sterilise them.
Now, bring the marmalade up to a rolling boil and boil it for 20–25 minutes or until it has reached setting point–use the wrinkle test.
When the marmalade is ready, take the pan off the heat. Leave the marmalade to settle for 15 minutes; this will help to distribute the peel evenly and make it less hazardous to pot. Give it a gentle stir in one direction to disperse any air bubbles.
Using a measuring jug and a funnel, transfer your marmalade into hot sterilised jars. Seal and leave the marmalade to cool completely.
Give the jars a second wipe over with a hot cloth and dry them before labelling. Store the jars of golden marmalade in a dry, cool place, where it will keep for at least a year.
Ginger and rum marmalade – add 75–100g of finely chopped root ginger when you add the sugar. Add 50ml of dark rum once the sugar has dissolved, boil to set, then add another 2 tablespoons of dark rum once the marmalade has reached setting point.
Black treacle marmalade – add 2 tablespoons of black treacle with the sugar; the treacle adds a gorgeous richness.
Spiced marmalade – add 6 star anise and 10 bruised cardamom pods to the gauze pouch with the pith and pips. Add a fresh star anise and a couple of cardamom pods (lightly squash them first) to each jar when potting the marmalade.
Tonka bean marmalade – this South American bean is small, flat, black and wrinkled, but don’t let its looks deceive you; it has a wonderful vanilla flavour. Add 3 tonka beans to the gauze pouch with the pith and pips.
Double orange marmalade – add 50ml of Cointreau once the sugar has dissolved, boil to set, then add another 2 tablespoons of Cointreau once the marmalade has reached setting point.