The bleak midwinter is the season for Seville oranges and there is nothing more satisfying on an icy day than working in a steamy kitchen making marmalade to be eaten on hot buttered toast. My sister has a blog which she ‘overshares’ her cooking tips so I thought I’d take leaf from her book and overshare how to make marmalade which I’m tempted to say is fool-proof.
1 kg Seville oranges
2 litres water
2 kg preserving sugar
200 g dark muscovado sugar
75 ml whisky
• Wash and dry the fruit, and cut in halves or quarters.
• Set a sieve over a bowl and line it with muslin. Over the sieve, juice the fruit, scouring the peels as you go, and dropping the pips, squeezed flesh and membranes into the cloth. Use a teaspoon to pick up a strip of membrane large enough to grip,then tear out the rest with your fingers.
• Reserve the juice squeezed from the fruit.
• Tie all the residue into a loose bag and put it into the preserving pan with the water.
• Shred the skin as finely as you like and add the peel to the pan.
• Leave it to soak overnight.
• Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the peel is tender and the liquid has reduced by half – about 2 hours. Cover the pan if too much evaporation is occurring before the peel is tender. If you need to stop at this stage, you can let the liquid cool down completely and continue much later in the day.
• Remove the bag of pips and squeeze the liquid out and into the pan. Discard the residue.
• Add the sugar to the pan, plus the reserved juice.
• Bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved completely.
• Raise the heat and boil hard until setting point is reached.
• Skim off any froth, allow it to cool and thicken a little, then stir to redistribute the peel, before potting.
• Add the whisky just before potting to increase the flavour but don’t worry about consuming spirits at breakfast time – the heat of the marmalade evaporates the alcohol, leaving the flavour.
A bit of technique
• When the sugar goes in, stir the mixture over a low heat until every grain has melted before turning up the heat. Take your time – undissolved sugar means crystallizing marmalade.
• If you don’t have a preserving pan, use a very big, deep saucepan instead.
• NEVER leave the pan once you have added the sugar especially if you have children – hot sticky jam is lethal.
• Judging setting point takes attention and skill so don’t hurry. Chill a stack of plates in the freezer and heat a tray of scrupulously clean jars in a low oven. Bring the marmalade to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Let it boil for about 10 minutes then take the pan off the heat and drop a teaspoon of the marmalade on a chilled plate. Leave it for a minute then push it with your finger. If it wrinkles, it will set. If it stays runny, return the pan to the boil for another two minutes then test again. It should not be more than 20 minutes in total.
• Ladle the cooled marmalade into the warm jars and cover with wax paper discs. Add lids only once completely cold to avoid condensation which encourages mould to form.
• Enjoy your marmalade for the year and bask in compliments!
Recipe originally from Country Living, February 2009