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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.

  Leave a reply


  1. Hi Robert
    When you put pips & pulp into a seive you want to get max pectin out so use a pestle and apply to the seive.

  2. Hi Jamie
    Strain peel out.
    If you have a blender, put the peel some liquid in and blend it down, so its Fine Fleck.
    Add to rest and boil to set stage. This should release more pectin from the peel & help it to set.
    Good Luck

  3. Have been making marmalade for several years with no problems but this year disaster struck. I did the uaual finely shredding and squeezing juice and simmered gently for 2 hrs, added warmed sugar and boiled rapidly for 20 mins. It is not a good set, quite runny in fact and also the shredded peel is very hard. Why is this? After 2 hrs simmering it was very soft and I could easily press it between finger and thumb, as suggested by Delia. Was it overboiled after adding the sugar. I don’t know what to do as re-boiling will help the set but not the tough peel. I have 6 jars!

  4. Someone asked earlier if anyone uses citric acid. I do. First I use Colonel Gore’s recipe, from Constance Spry’s cookery book:
    – Quarter and pip the Seville oranges. Pips go into muslin bag.
    – Shred the quarters (magimix), weigh, and add 3 pints water to 1 lb orange shred dings, and the juice of a lemon. Leave soaking 12 hours.
    – Bring all to a boil (with pips in muslin bag) then high simmer (is that a rolling boil?) for 4 hours. Leave the doors in the house open if you like the scent of oranges to fill every room (I do). Leave 12 hours again.
    – Add 1 and a quarter lb warmed sugar to every pint of pulp, and bring to a fast boil, stirring frequently, till setting point, which is is often reached much quicker than the recipe says.
    – Let cool a little THEN add citric acid crystals (easily got at Indian shops) and stir to dissolve well, before potting. I use a flat teaspoon per 12 lbs marmalade. This gives an extra piquancy without being overbearing. Don’t cook it with the marmalade – it doesn’t taste right.
    We humbly think it’s the best marmalade ever!

  5. Robert Waterfall

    I see no reason to waste pectin or effort in squeezing the muslin bag. I just empty the bag into a saucepan, add a very small amout of water, stir well then pour through a sieve. This ensures the maximum amount of pectin is obtained.

  6. hi i am a first time marmalader and just made my first batch today!Feeling very happy at achieving this and would like to share an easy recipe which i followed. I live in rural Greece and followed a Greek recipe (Vefa Alexiadou, Greek Pastries & Desserts): 2lbs oranges and 1 lemon are sliced and left in 3 pints water for 24 hours. The pips are also soaked in half a pint of water in a separate bowl. Next day, the water with the pips is added and pips put in muslin bag. Then its all simmered covered for an hour. Then lower the heat, remove the pips and add the sugar and cook for another hour or so uncovered, stirring occasionally. It took a couple of hours for it to set (as i had it on too low a heat at first) but it came out really well and i added whiskey to one batch, brandy to another and then i made mandarin marmalade in the same way and added amaretto. I think i am hooked. Thanks everyone for making this site so interesting and encouraging!

  7. Made another batch of marmalade taking care this time not to over boil. Very good result – no problems with reaching the setting point. Several jars of lovely dark marmalade and no sticky toffee this time ! Thank you for responses.

  8. Just making my first batch of the season – having trouble getting it to set, don’t usually have a problem…. but have now added some lemon juice, hope this helps.
    I’m not sure if anyone else has said this already, but my top tip is to use scissors to cut up the peel – tried it for the first time last year, and got through this task in no time at all! It’s possible to make the peel very fine this way, if you like that.

  9. Caroline

    Hi Linda, it does sound like you overcooked your marmalade. I had the same thing happen me with a batch of rhubarb jam. Don’t give up, marmalade making can become addictive. Nothing tastes as good as your first perfect batch of marmalade of the year 🙂

  10. Hi LINDA
    The only advice I can give is that you may have boiled too long and missed the setting point. A good 10-15 minutes of a rolling boil and then test a small sample on a cold saucer, if it wrinkles setting reached if not boil another 5 mins and try again.
    Sticky soft toffee with orange flavour sounds wonderful, if you have a sweet tooth!!
    good luck next time……………….
    there will be a next time?

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