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Perfect Seville orange marmalade recipe

oranges and lemonsAs the topping for the best slice of toast of the day, good marmalade is a joy. We like it dark, chunky, hand cut and never in moderation.

Marmalade was the first preserve that we made. We were so proud of it that we could hardly bear to move it from the worktop to the larder, let alone eat it. Eventually we opened the first jar and lavished it on slice after slice of hot buttered toast.

We immediately christened it Intellectual Marmalade as so much ground work, research and care had gone into its manufacture. Visitors who spotted the label were wary of it at breakfast. Would it somehow have an effect on the brain? When they saw us slopping it onto our toast they happily did the same. No one ever mentioned the name.

We like dark old fashioned marmalade. We couldn’t find a recipe for this so we based our recipe on the classic Seville Orange Marmalade in Delia’s Complete Illustrated Cookery Course. We ignored the rolling boil stage and then let it simmer slowly for hours to achieve the dark colour and depth of taste. We tested it for set every twenty minutes. It nearly killed me (I was up for most of the night). Simmering for hours was a key tip from my mother whose marmalade is excellent (I suspect that her inspiration is Mrs Beeton, with knobs on). She wasn’t forthcoming when we dared to ask for the recipe. Update: my mother uses a Pru Leith recipe and adds a couple of tablespoonfuls of molasses to get the dark colour. We recommend the Delia recipe – but simmered very gently for a good six hours to achieve the dark colour and depth of taste naturally. However, I would recommend tasting it every hour or so. When you get the flavour that suits your palate bring the marmalade to a rolling boil immediately and test every 15 minutes for set.

Marmalade can be a bit of a palaver. It starts with hunting down and bagging the fruit. Despite many forays I couldn’t find any Seville oranges this year. Just as I was about to give up I saw them twinkling out in the Cambridge market on Monday. Investing my small change in three kilos of the fruit, I staggered back to the car park with just enough cash to release Jalopy from the gloomy depths.

Having made no notes on the timings of our Intellectual Marmalade recipe, I couldn’t face another day/night of babysitting the bubbling vats. I was determined to find the best old fashioned marmalade recipe, with proper timings. A couple of days ago I discovered a Dark Chunky Marmalade recipe on Delia Online. It’s made in two steps, so it’s great if you are working full time as you can spread the process over two evenings (I would recommend a spreading the task over a weekend unless your evening starts at 15.00 hours). Seville oranges will survive happily in the fridge for at least a week. They keep for months in the freezer and, if you have the room, you can stash them and make fresh marmalade throughout the year.

We have finally made Delia’s Dark Chunky Marmalade. We combined her recipe with our method and simmered ours for a good six hours before setting point was reached. It looks divine and tastes even better than my mum’s. I’m amazed that Paddington Bear hasn’t dropped by.

N.B. If you try this recipe, the poaching liquid is used in the final marmalade. The recipe isn’t very clear on this point and I found the answer in the DeliaOnline forum (press the Community button on her site to access this great resource). Also you need a very large pot! To stop all the peel rising to the top of the jars let the marmalade cool a little before bottling in sterlised jars.

Update January 14th 2011

We now have several new recipes for Seville orange marmalade to suit every taste:

A super three fruit marmalade. A best seller on our gateside stand.

Easy Seville orange marmalade. This fine shredded marmalade is a classic and gets the thumbs up from my mum and is really easy to make!

Seville orange and quince marmalade. Lots of deep flavours in this orange and quince mix.

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  1. Hi Britt
    If it has set there is no need to keep in fridge.
    A dry cupboard is ok
    Marmalade can keep for 12 months or more!!
    Wats a food grinder?

  2. britt petras

    I flew home with 15 lbs of seville oranges recently, determined to make great marmalade. Set out and read every recipe online and then did what I always do, mixed the info in my head and set out. The result is wonderful, quite bitter and very firm.
    This is what I did (and doing with a new batch right now).
    7lbs oranges
    5 or a little more cups of water
    3/4 cup of sugar for each cup of mashed pulp.
    1/2 tsp butter to clear it at the end.
    I wash oranges. Then peel with knife in one go/oranger. Cut all peel into thick or thin stripes, put into pot. Half oranges and squeeze juice and add to peel. Add 2 cups of water. Boil for 45 minutes. I do this at night and let it sit over night with a lid on.
    From the juicing process I keep the pips and scoop out all the pulp from the oranges. Put these two ingredients in a pot and add 2 cups of water and boil for 45 minutes. Press pips with a potato masher. Let stand over night.
    Next day I grind the pip pulp mixture in an Italian style food grinder manually. Add this mix to the strips&juice part. Measure the total amount. If you get, let’s say 18 cups of mix add 18X3/4 cup of sugar, 13.5 cups of sugar.
    Now bring to brisk boil. You can judge if you need a little more water at this point. From 7lbs of oranges I had 18 cups of mix and so added 13.5 cups of sugar. After a little boiling I tested it and found it good. But best to start with less and add as one feels. I boil it until it’s 220 degrees (about an hour or so). And it has set very well the two times I have made it. It’s very firm, so if you like you could add a little more water, but I think it’s the temperature that is the important thing.
    I pour in steralized jars and keep it in an extra fridge.

  3. Hello everyone. I tried my hand at marmalade for the first time yesterday but this morning I am dismayed to find it all runny in the jars. I’m not sure if I added too much water in the first place or just didn’t boil it for long enough. I have ended up with 12 x 1lb jars and 14 x 1/2 lb jars so I think I’ll pour most of it back into the pan and bring it all up to another rolling boil and try again. Some of the runny stuff can always be used on puddings and hams. If anybody has a good solution for runny marmalade recovery I would be delighted to hear for future reference! Thanks.

  4. i am a novice at making marmalade but love having a go, it tastes so much better than shop bought. does any one else use powdered citric acid ? it keeps for a long time and saves using lemons.

  5. Caroline

    I should have added, I use the orange juice to water mix in standard seville orange marmalade, not the Delia Smith dark marmalade, which is intense enough.

  6. Caroline

    Hi Everyone, some great comments on this site. I am now in my third year of marmalade making, I picked up a batch of oranges from our local fruit & veg wholesaler so I am now making this years supply. The Delia Smith dark marmalade recipe is one of my favourites. I forgot to heat the sugar last year and some of the jars crystallised. Easily remedied by a few seconds in the microwave to melt the sugar crystals, but best to heat the sugar to stop this happening. I also use equal quantities of orange juice and water, it gives a lovely, intense flavour.

  7. Adrian D

    Made our first ever batch of marmalade, loosly based on Delia’s Dark Chunky recipe. It has set very well and has a fab colour – can’t wait to taste some. Anyway, having read all the above contributions to this site, I want to raise something which has not received comment so far and that concerns the quality of the Seville Oranges themselves and the effect on the final produced marmalade. Our first batch was made with small Seville oranges (about 6cm diameter yielding about 8 oranges to the kilo, also very orangey colour). The apparent success of our first batch prompted us to buy some more oranges so we could freeze them for making more marmalade later in the year. These oranges are larger (about 5 to the kilo), more yellowy in colour and feel thicker skinned (more pithy). My question to the more experienced is would you expect the different oranges to have any impact on the marmalade-making process (e.g. cooking times, setting characteristics, etc.) or the colour and flavour of the marmalade? Even with very similar oranges, how repeatable is the process of marmalade making? Any views would be welcome.

  8. I missed the Marmalade Festival last year but hoping to go along this time . . .

    Might even enter the competition!

  9. Christina E

    This is an amazing collection of hints and tips and help for marmalade! I made some yesterday, popped it in jars and it was really runny this morning so I had a good old read of all these posts and it was so helpful!

    I re-boiled the marmalade, added the juice of another lemon and it took around 25 minutes before it reached stiing point! The only issue was it turned from golden yellow (when it was runny) to a very deep red wine colour. It still tastes amazing, but more robust, bitter and intense. 21 jars should go a long way!

    I made Nigel Slaters marmalade cake with a jar of the running verson and it turned out wonderful! I even topped it with an orange butter icing I made and added 2 teaspoons of runny marmalade and I can’t tell you how fab it tastes!

    Thanks again to all the postees above, you saved my marmalade!!!

  10. WOW! Thought I would quickly browse the marmalade posts and I have been here since lunch, 3 hours well spent. So many options and 3kg of sevilles to play with.

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