The Cottage Smallholder

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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. A first time attempt at making marmalade resulted in six jars of very sticky soft toffee. Followed receipe very carefully using 1.5kg seville oranges; 3 kg preserving sugar; 2 lemons; 4 litres of water. Most websites seem to offer advice on marmalade which has not set properly but I can’t find anything on the problem described above.

  2. Barbara D'Angelo

    I will try that, going to make the batch tomarrow, I am glad I waited, because I didn’t even think about the seeds and pulp of the lemon, thank you!

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Barbara

    You could use the pulp and the seeds from a lemon to add “super” pectin.

  4. Barbara D'Angelo

    I am about to make some marmalade from my oramental orange tree, it has a banner crop this year from the hot weather we had this summer. I have done this several times before but in small one or two jars at a time instead of a whole batch, most recipes use the seeds as a thickner but my oranges have no seeds so I shall have to experment, as I can’t remember if I used pectin or not, I don’t think so.

  5. Long boiling is a must. If the peel isn’t soft when you add to the sugar it will go like leather and the juice won’t set. You don’t need separate the inside from the skin- I can’t see the point, unless you want a very clear product. A good addition is a few teaspoons of Laphroig whiskey as the slight smokey flavour goes well with the bitterness of the oranges. If you make lemaon marmalade a few teaspoons of gin works well, too. I have tried ginger and other additions, but they don’t work so well as you don’t want anything too overpowering.

  6. Apricot

    Hi Yubbadeb,
    Werent the figure skaters great? I am wondering if I could have your Dad’s recipe for orange marmalade? You have a bit of the process in your last comment but not the recipe. My husband has just bought home a huge amount of oranges from a friend at work and though they aren’t beautiful oranges they taste great. I’d love to have a go at making some marmalade. If its a family recipe that you don’t want to share, I’ll understand.

  7. Hi-
    I made seville orange marmalade for the first time this year, from a recipe of my Dad’s, which he got from the supplier for Harrods. Like Bronwen’s, earlier, it soaks raw pith, peel, pips, juice, for 24 hrs (1 1/2 pint water to every pound chopped mixture, weigh empty pan first), poaches 2 hrs, then leaves another 24 hrs before sugaring and setting. This seems to extract more of the orangyness. I’ll try adding juice just before sugaring next time, which should do this even more.
    The setting stage happened on a wood-burning stove, slowly bring to rolling boil and keep it there while watching the figure skating (Olympics time!), testing every three lots of skaters-about 15 mins. Took ages- about an hour, but perhaps because the sugar content is relatively low (one and a quarter pounds to every pound of poached mixture- weigh your empty pan first) the result is a golden fragrant orangy, nicely bitter marmalde with a firm but loose set- perfect. The full set did not develop till the next morning-note- if your set is too runny, leave it a while before panicking…
    Given the lack of thermometer, accurate heat control and looseness of timing, this must be a very forgiving recipe.With that amount of boiling, I’d expect a very bitter, dark, burnt, solid product.
    I do labels with an ordinary white sticky, which is then overlaid with a strip of sellotape- they don’t fall off this way, or get eaten by slugs- which always otherwise happens if you keep the jars in a damp Cornish shed. We have killer 4 inch orange slugs that love paper.
    Hope this is useful

  8. britt petras

    A food grinder is a food mill I guess, no good name for it. Mine is of heavy plastic with 3 different discs and a hand crank. When grinding the pip shells stay behind and can be tossed out.

    For Karen who wants to make peel-less marmalade ( My husband likes it too) I grind my peels in my food mill and add the pulp to the juice and boil. A blender could be used – the shreds must be soft from cooking though.

  9. Puthe peel in a muslin bag and place in the marmalade pan to cook . You’ll get the goodness and flavour but can easily discard the peel before jarring up.

  10. Hi, I want to make shredless marmalade for the kids, how do i do this?

    Great information from everyone, thanks

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