Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Seville Orange Marmalade

A increasing number of people are making their own marmalade and discovering just how much better it is than the stuff sold in the supermarkets. As Maggie Smith said when served "shop bought" marmalade in Gosford Park, "I call that very poor".

I rather like the fact that Seville oranges are available for such a very short period, in the UK, the last week of January and no later than the first week of February. I bought several kilos of organic ones a few weeks ago and relied on the chill conditions in my house to delay actually making the marmalade. The reason Sevilles are used of course, is the fact that they are unbelieveably bitter, bitter enough to counter the amount of sugar required to make a product that will keep well. Their is a pathetic amount of juice in a seville, the source of delicious bitter orange flavour, is the skin which is sliced and used along with water and sugar. There are countless ways of making marmalade, what follows is my method which is one I grew up with.

I begin by halving the oranges and removing the juice. I use a juicer attachment on my food processor which makes this a very easy task. A by-product of using this method of extracting the juice, is a copious number of pips and membrane, both of which are worth boiling up in some of the water in order to extract the natural setting agent pectin.

I then slice the orange peel into thin shreds, again you can use a slicing attachment to do this which cuts down on the time. You now have all you need to make the marmalade, the finely sliced peel, the negligible amount of juice and the water the pips and pith have been boiled in for 10 minutes or so.

When making any jam or conserve, it is customary to use an equal amount of fruit or fruit pulp to sugar. When making marmalade I find it best to use a litre of water to every kilo of oranges bought. My preserving pan accommodates a 4 kilo & 4 litre batch without any risk of spillage. I begin with 4 litres of water, some of which I use to boil up the pips and pith. I then strain this enriched liquid into my pan along with the remaining water and the juice from the oranges. I add all the finely sliced peel and on a medium heat, simmer for an hour and a half to make sure the peel is tender. If this is not done properly the addition of the sugar will make it impossible to do as the presence of sugar toughens up the peel again.

The marmalade needs then to be brought to a rapid boil until you achieve a good set, this happens at around 240 F. I am persuaded to point out at this point by Julia who believes it should be possible to pour marmalade out of the jar, more of a coulis consistency perhaps, that not every sane person wants their marmalade set, she would go further and say mine is wrong, but that's an ongoing issue. I can remember my mother would always slip in a teaspoon of unsalted butter at the point where the marmalade or jam is made to eliminate any suds that have formed from the boiling process.

Pour the marmalade into sterilized jars and pop on the lids. This intensely flavoured marmalade will convert you to always making your own.

Other marmalade can be made using this method, pink grapefruit or lemon work well. I have had less success with lime but a combination of orange (not Seville) lemon and grapefruit is good.


  1. So it seems I am five years behind everyone else in discovering your blog. I am absolutely in love with your recipes. Each and every one sounds absolutely divine and I can't wait to start trying them. I too am a massive foodie and grow most of my own fruit and veg and have a 120 tree orchard that I planted in 2009 which is just starting to bear fruit. I look forward to your updates and the attempts at your recipes. Thank you for your efforts

  2. That sent too soon! Now I'm off to try and source some Seville Oranges! :) Victoria

    1. Hello Victoria and welcome to my blog, it's always nice to hear from people who find me. This all began as an online cook book for my daughter but it grew somewhat over the years. I must admit most of the recipes I ever created are already posted but from time to time I come up with something new and at that point I shall share it. Happy cooking, best wishes, Tôbi.

  3. I am just in the process of making my second batch of this wonderful marmalade. My friend has just delivered the Sevilla oranges direct from their trees here in Andalucia, so here goes. Last year's batch was a great hit but didn't quite last the year, so making a bit more this time. Thanks Tobi.
    Chris Hayes

  4. Thank you Chris for your kind comment, it's always good to hear from people. I'm particularly pleased that my marmalade is being made in Spain, best wishes Tôbi .