Saturday, 14 January 2012

Marmalade Time

It's that time of year again when the Seville oranges appear in the fruit and veg shops all around the country.  The oranges are smaller, more irregular, sometimes blotchy green, thick skinned and not as shiny as the oranges we peel and eat.  They are also unbelievably bitter but they make the most tart, zingy marmalade you can imagine.  To be honest, I hate making marmalade but I love it: so every year at this time, I get on the phone to my mother to get me some oranges.  It's still difficult to get the oranges around here and she is usually getting some for herself anyway.  This year I have some in my freezer left over from last year.  You can freeze them and to be honest I have never noticed any difference in using frozen from fresh.

I have tried every type and available recipe over the years but the one I have settled on, with my modifications is Delia Smith's recipe for a long slow-cooked marmalade but I shorten the process as I don't like the colour too dark.  I also omit a lot of the peel as I prefer jelly to lumpy bits.  But, the beauty of any recipe is, as long as you don't interfere too much with the underlying principles then you can tailor it to your own taste. 

Her recipe is spread out over two days but I condense it into one as it is a palavar and I always want to get it over and done with.  But - the biggest bonus of all is making a marmalade cake with the left overs which won't quite fill your last jar.  This is the best cake ever and if you don't believe me then try it and let me know how you get on.

Delia Smith's (modified by me) recipe
1.35kg Seville marmalade oranges
2 lemons
5 pints of water (I use less as I can't fit that much in my pot)
2.7kg granulated sugar (I also use less usually 2kg of sugar to this quantity)


You need a preserving pan and some muslin.  First off you wash the fruit and put in your pan with the water and bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer, cover and leave the oranges to poach for about 3 hours or until they are soft.


                             Simmering the oranges to soften

Scoop the fruit out and allow to cool.  When cool, cut the oranges in half and scoop out the flesh and pips and place in a pan.  Add some of your poaching liquid and simmer for 10 minutes.  When cooled strain the contents of the saucepan into a sieve lined with muslin.  Allow to drip through and then when it is cool enough to handle catch it and wring it squeezing all the juice and liquid out.  Do this with a pair of gloves as it is very acidic and burns your hands.  It is also very therapeutic and you can imagine you are wringing someone's neck - bit like kneading bread!  You should be left with just spent pulp in your muslin which you can put in your compost heap.


                          Straining the pulp through muslin

Next slice up your skin for your "bits" the size and quantity is to your taste.  Add these slices into your poaching liquid and the stuff you squeezed out of the muslin.  Delia says to leave this overnight, but I just crack on.

Put the pot on a low heat and gradually bring up to just below boiling point and start to add your sugar.  Add your sugar gradually, stirring to dissolve.  Then when you are sure it has all dissolved bring to a rapid, rolling boil and set your timer.  This is the difficult bit.  After 15-20 minutes you need to test for a set.  Have a few saucers in the fridge chilling.  When you are testing turn the heat off under the pan as it is very easy to overshoot "setting point" and you will have to go for a "second set".  Spoon out a tablespoon of your marmalade onto a chilled saucer and put in the fridge for a few minutes.  Remove and run your finger through it - if it wrinkles then it is set, if not put heat on and re-test in another 5 minutes.  I have to say there is no fast way to do this and you just have to be patient.  It can take from 15-45 minutes!  Don't despair - it will set eventually.  Alternately use a thermometer but this just gives you an idea when the setting point is close and marmalade takes it's own time.

                     Setting point is 105C

When it is set, remove from the heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes,  then fill hot, sterilised jars.  See my post on jam making for other hints.



To make the marmalade cake use a basic Victoria sponge recipe and add a couple of tablespoons of marmalade.  Believe me it is really, really good.

Marmalade   Delia Smith  Seville Oranges  Marmalade Cake