Marmalade – at its simplest just three ingredients- oranges, sugar, water. I have always been a fan of eating the citrusy tangy orange jam, like Paddington Bear, but never made it myself. As a food blogger I would like to think I know my way around a kitchen & a jam jar, having made jams and chutneys many times. So after recipe reading, lots of opinions, tips & techniques, a mistake or two along the way, here goes – my marmalade tales: my how to/how not to guide of what I did, learnt and made.
Timing & sourcing – the first important tip. January is the Seville orange season, and my original plan was to make marmalade then. A few weeks delay meant a quest and hunt for the allusive key ingredient. My local green grocer said “you won’t find Seville oranges now in February you’re too late for this season”. Three shops later I had decided to make with Italian blood oranges only so bought a large quantity.
Ave Maria Sevilles
Just one more shop, and to my surprise there they were- a few boxes of organic Seville-amazing! The Ave María farm (@avemariafarm) of Mairena del Alcor, Seville, the growers – my marmalade saviours. To my delight at finding Seville oranges – lots more oranges purchased. Which leads to my next key learning- time. Sounds obvious but ensure you have enough time, especially as a first timer.
My first mistake- the more oranges, the longer it will take to prepare and make – simple. So marmalade ingredients found, knives sharpened, bowls, jam pan & stock pot at the ready. Lots of research – who knew there would be so many recipes, hints, tips, opinions on how to make marmalade. I found a recipe that said “foolproof, although it takes time, it is easy, just follow the steps and you are 100% guaranteed great marmalade”.
I was “sold” so fruit washed and soaked in 2 big stock pots overnight. I am a fan of the Slow Food movement but 3,300 minutes, really? Blog banter the next day with Simon, who laughed telling me his Mum Rayner, a seasoned marmalade maker, never takes that long!
So my second mistake re-reading the recipe was “where is the rind? “ I like my marmalade with “thick cut” peel and no mention of peeling, paring or cutting! So change of recipe and some great advice from the Yotam Ottolenghi Facebook group crew- Kate, Zahra, Lous especially- on line help from UK & Netherlands plus all the encouraging comments from further afield- global supportive foodie communities are fab!
Oranges on the boil
So oranges now on the boil with wonderful citrusy aromas wafting around the kitchen. I made 17 jars of Seville & blood orange marmalade with muscovado sugar & Auchentoshan Scotch whisky, recipe below. Also 3 jars of blood orange, fresh ginger and Campari marmalade. I have scaled down the recipe to a more manageable number of oranges and included the things I learnt.
I even got the thumbs up from a VIP: marmalade lover, food critic, my cookery teacher and inspiration- my Mum! Thanks to everyone for all your support, encouragement, banter. You never know next year, the World Marmalade Awards held at Dalemain Mansion, Cumbria, UK: @marmaladeawards, @dalemainmansion, newcomer category- I can but dream.
Ingredients makes about 10 x 450g or 1 lb jars marmalade
- 450g/ or 1/2 lb Seville Oranges
- 450g or 1/2 lb Blood Oranges
- Juice of 2 lemons, retain the pips
- 900g/2lb granulated sugar
- 100g/0.2lb Muscovado sugar (if not using just substitute with extra granulated)
- Cold water, enough to cover fruit about 2.25l or 4 pints
- 3 tablespoons of Scotch Whisky (optional)
- 10 glass jars & lids washed in warm soapy water & drip dried, more in method about sterilising jars & lids
- Jam pan or large deep heavy based pan- stock pot or casserole
- Large heatproof bowls
- Large slotted spoon, large metal spoon or metal ladle, large wooden spoon/ jam spoon & a metal tablespoon
- Large muslin square
- Kitchen string
- Food processor ( optional)
- Jam thermometer ( optional), check photo & method for set point
- 2 metal baking trays
- Metal jam funnel (optional) or a steady hand!
- Heatproof oven gloves
- Saucer placed in the freezer to test the set point