Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Home Made Marmalade

If, like me, you're in desperate need of something to brighten up these dark Winter days I have good news, it's Seville Orange season! These nobbly bobbly balls of wonder have a beautiful, bitter flavour which makes them perfect for marmalade making. Their powerful citrus flavour can hold it's own against all that sugar and the finished marmalade is the perfect balance between bitter and sweet!

You'd best hurry though as the season is short!

I ordered these beautiful organic Seville oranges through Riverford as part of their marmalade making kit! The kit contains a whole load of oranges plus a couple of lemons which add their beautiful flavour (as well as much needed pectin in the form of pips!). You'll need a piece of muslin, 2kg granulated sugar and a whole load of jam jars. My marmalade filled 6 big preserving jars and one little jam jar which I expect will find its way into a Christmas hamper towards the end of this year!

You can see the original recipe over on the Riverford website here!

Ingredients & Equipment:

1.5kg Seville oranges
2 lemons
2.5 litres cold water
Around 2kg granulated sugar

A large pan (a preserving pan is well worth investing in - I have this one which is perfect)
Sterilised jars (with either screw top lids or cellophane covers and elastic bands)
Waxed discs


1.      With a sharp knife, peel the skin from the oranges and lemons, leaving as much white pith on the fruit as possible. Chop the peel into 3mm strips and put in a large pan.

2.       Line a large bowl with a piece of muslin, leaving plenty to overhang the sides of the bowl. Cut the oranges and lemons in half. With your hands, squeeze the juice from the fruit over the bowl, dropping the leftover squeezed fruit (pith, pips and flesh) into the muslin. Lift the muslin out of the bowl, gather the sides and squeeze any remaining juice into the bowl. Tie the muslin together with string to keep the fruit in and form a bag.

3.       Place the muslin bag in the saucepan with the peel. Add the squeezed fruit juice and 2.5 litres cold water to the pan. Heat until boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours, until the peel is tender. Put a few saucers in the fridge to chill.

4.       Remove the muslin bag and squeeze all the sticky juice from the bag into the pan. (An easy way to do this is to put the bag in a colander and use a spoon to press it out). Measure the contents of the pan in a jug (include the shreds and liquid). Return to the pan and add 450g sugar for every 500ml liquid. Gently heat for 15 mins, until the sugar crystals have dissolved. Increase the heat and boil rapidly for 15 mins.

5.       Test that the marmalade has reached setting point by putting a teaspoon of the liquid on a cold saucer and gently pushing with the back of the spoon. If the liquid starts to wrinkle, setting point has been reached. If no wrinkling happens, keep boiling and re-test every 10 mins. Turn off the heat as soon as you reach setting point.

Chloë's Tip: I found it really tricky to tell when the marmalade had reached setting point. In the past when I've made jam it's been quite obvious as the surface of the jam really wrinkles and breaks up when you press it but this time the 'wrinkle' effect was much more subtle. In the end I gave the marmalade an extra 10 minutes or so of boiling time then called it a day and bottled it up as I was scared of burning it. Once the marmalade had cooled down I gently tipped a jar on it's end fully expecting the molten marmalade to fill the lid but to my complete and utter delight it had set perfectly! Have faith in the set.

6.       Skim any scum from the surface. Leave the mixture to stand for 15 mins. Stir gently, then carefully spoon into warmed sterilised jars (use a jam funnel if you have one). If using screw top lids, put the lids on while the marmalade is still hot and turn upside down for 5 mins to sterilise the lids (or boil the lids for a few mins and leave to dry before use). If using cellophane, put a wax disc on the marmalade while warm, then seal with cellophane and an elastic band.

Chloë's Tip: If you're new to preserving and are just about ready to invest in one or two bits of kit then I would recommend that you pick up a jam funnel, even before you buy a preserving pan if need be! No one has time to scrub set jam from the outside of all their jars once they've cooled and also when the rim of the jars inevitably also get covered, the lids will fuse with them and it will be a huge ball ache to get them open.

Handy tips from Riverford:

1.       To sterilise jars, place in a dishwasher cycle, boil in water or heat in the oven - put the jars on a baking tray and place in a cold oven. Heat to 140°C for at least 10 mins (jars can be left warm in the oven until needed).

2.       Make sure you have a large enough pan to hold all the liquid and peel with plenty of extra space.

3.       When peeling the skins, keep the pieces as large as possible to make chopping easier.

4.       Don’t over-boil the marmalade once set or the marmalade will be too solid.

5.       If you are not confident peeling the skin from the whole fruit with a knife, cut the fruit into quarters, squeeze out the juice (reserve the juice for the pan and add any pips that come out into the muslin bag). Scrape the inner flesh, pips, and white pith away from the skin with a knife or teaspoon and put in the muslin bag. Chop the peel for the pan as above.

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