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Simple Seville orange, ruby grapefruit and lemon marmalade recipe


Photo: Seville oranges and lemons

Photo: Seville oranges and lemons

When I was a decorator I’d often dream about decorating as it was an integral part of my life. I’d often wake exhausted in the morning having been ‘decorating’ all night. Decorating was the backbone to all these dreams overlaid with the classic dramas. Anxiety dreams – would I finish painting the room in the allotted time? Adventure dreams – scaling roofs and walls with a pot of paint and a brush. Travel dreams – decorating around the world. Even frightening dreams – decorating alone in a haunted house.

The decorating dreams stopped a few months ago. They have been replaced with gardening and cooking dreams. And more recently the gate side stand has started to make an appearance. No dramas here though – to date the stand has a passive benevolent role. I woke just now having dreamt that I was pottering in the front garden and a man bought some marmalade and murmured his thanks as he dropped a pound into the cash box. The coin fell onto a pile of other cash with a sonorous thud. A happy sound.

The gate side stand has become a focus for my day. Planning, planting and making new lines. In the spring I will sell baby vegetable plants, herbs and vegetables from the garden. I’m also going to make some greetings cards – these can be made from my bed. The focus now is on marmalade and Valentines Day.

As I wanted a range of marmalade on the stand I thought it would be fun to make a three fruit marmalade. Even though this recipe only includes one ruby grapefruit there is a superb grapefruity edge to this marmalade. I included the rind of all the fruit which means that the shreds are three slightly different colours and look pretty when spread on toast.

Simple Seville orange, ruby grapefruit and lemon marmalade recipe


3lbs/1.3 kilos of Seville oranges
12.5ozs/360g of ruby grapefruit/1 large grapefruit
9.5ozs/275g of lemons/2 small lemons
8lbs 8ozs/3.870 white granulated sugar/ratio of 2:1 to the fruit
Water to cover the fruit – mine was 6 pints/3.4 litres
Scrub the oranges and lemons to remove any wax. Put the fruit in a large heavy bottomed saucepan and cover with the water. Put the lid on and bring to simmering point. Then turn the heat down very low and slip a piece of aluminium foil under the lid to ensure a good seal. Simmer very gently for 3 hours until the fruit is soft.  Allow to cool overnight in the poaching liquid.
The next day cut the oranges and lemons in half and scoop out the flesh and pips into a separate saucepan. Add about a pint/570 millilitres of the poaching juice and simmer gently for at least half an hour and then pour into a sieve lined with muslin set over a bowl.
Cut the halves of oranges, lemons and grapefruit in half again and remove the pith by scraping with the edge of a metal spoon. When this is done rinse the peel and cut into fine strips. I set the skins in blocks cutting about 8 skins at a time.
By this stage the pulp liquid will have almost dripped through but it’s worth giving it an extra squeeze. Knot the muslin and pass two wooden spoons (juxtaposed) beneath the knots turn the spoons against each other which will squeeze out any remaining juice with little effort.
Add enough poaching liquid to the pectin rich juice and check that you still have 6 pints/3.4 litres of juice. Top it up with cold water if necessary.
Bring the peel gently to simmering point in the poaching liquid add the sugar and stir until it is completely dissolved. Taste the mixture – if it’s too tart for your taste add a little more sugar stirring again until it is completely dissolved. Then bring the marmalade to a rolling boil.
After 15 minutes test for a set (see Tips and Tricks below). If the marmalade is not set bring back to a rolling boil and test every five minutes or so. Just before the marmalade reaches setting point it moves from forming thousands if tiny bubbles to a much more gloopy boil.
Using a ladle and a funnel pour into hot sterilised jars and seal immediately. Leave to stand overnight and label the next day.
If your peel wants to rise to the top of the jars keep on turning the jars every ten minutes or so and the peel will settle evenly distributed within the jar.
Tips and tricks:
Marmalade “set” or “setting point”:
Getting the right set can be tricky. I have tried using a jam thermometer but find it easier to use the following method. Before you start to make the marmalade, put a couple of plates in the fridge so that the warm marmalade can be drizzled onto a cold plate (when we make marmalade we often forget to return the plate to the fridge between tests, using two plates means that you have a spare cold plate). Return the plate to the fridge to cool for approx two minutes. It has set when you run your finger through it and leave a crinkly track mark. If after two minutes the cooled jam is too liquid, continue to boil the marmalade, testing it every few minutes until you have the right set. The marmalade is far more delicious if it is slightly runny.
Sterilising the jars:
We collect jars all year round for our jelly, chutney and jam making sessions. I try to soak off labels and store the clean jars and metal plastic coated screw-top lids in an accessible place. The sterilising method that we used is simple. Just before making the jam, I quickly wash and rinse the jars and place them upside down in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 160c/140c for fan assisted. When the oven has reached the right temperature I turn off the heat. The jars will stay warm for quite a while. I only use plastic lined lids for preserves as the all-metal lids can go rusty. I boil these for five minutes in water to sterilise them. If I use Le Parfait jars, I do the same with the rubber rings.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kate

    Isn’t that weird after all this time! Sometimes I get exam dreams and the last time I had an exam was in my early twenties..

    Hi Danast

    Yes I agree. Although I have only temporarily retired to bed I do sleep more soundly.

    Hi Mandi

    You are a genius. Thank you so much for this idea. I must admit you have a strong imaginative streak for business. I do admire you!

    I will definitely try doing this. The dehydrator can be used to dry flowers and I’m going to be growing much more this year.

    Hi Sebbie

    I’ve been thinking about lavender bags too. Just not producing enough lavender ATM.

    Hello Dee

    You must have been very glamorous to be a BOAC stewardess – as they only picked the prettiest girls.

    You nightmare sounds grim. Isn’t it great when you wake and realise that it is just a dream.

    Hi Wendy

    It would be great if you lived nearby!

    Hi Bridget

    Thanks for the eucalyptus tip – brilliant.

    Hi Jo

    That marmalade sounds interesting and yummy.

    Gosh you are having to jump through so many hoops. What a nightmare.

    Thanks for the tip about regulations. I’ll check them out. Perhaps in the end we’ll just have to stick to honey, vegetables, flowers and gifts.

    Hi Vanessa

    I reckon that this made about 5 ½ litres of marmalade. Mine took about 30 minutes to set as the saucepan was really full and could only manage a soft rolling boil.
    Delighted that you are enjoying the blog! Thanks for leaving a comment.

  2. Just wanted to ask – how many jars do you estimate that this recipe will fill? I am very keen to have a go (sounds like just my kind of marmalade!!) but need to make sure I have enough jars knocking about (my recent preserving efforts have depleted my stock!!)
    Thanks for the wonderful blog, I look forward to hearing your thoughts each day.

  3. Jo @ LittleFfarm Dairy

    Wow – another tempting recipe….you’re spoiling us, Fiona! It’s getting to be a daily drool which just isn’t fair as this is supposed to be the dieting time of year…!!

    We recently had a tradestand at a local village’s Yuletide Fair, & were next door to a lady selling some unusual varieites of marmalade. Her Calvados & Drambuie varieties were particularly spectacular, with the alcohol really giving the marmalade such a luxurious warmth – perfect for spreading on crisp toast or comforting crumpets on a cold winter’s day such as this.

    On a slightly different subject, sorry to be boring – & I don’t want to put a dampener on things in any way – but I have a legislation question: as you are technically trading food produced in your home kitchen for commercial sale (even though it’s only a gate-side stand), do you need formal permission from Environmental Health (who register your premises as hygienic & fit for food production purposes – i.e. correct work surfaces; double sink; tools; chopping boards; water quality; no pets in kitchen etc etc) & also Trading Standards (who have all sorts of rules about ingredients listings; labelling & descriptors; plus the thorny formality of Weights And Measures/WAMs et al)?

    Anyway, if you haven’t already gained approval from both organisations it would be well worth checking out whether you need to – which I strongly suspect you do – as you might well be inadvertently breaking the law…!

    I say this because as a commercial food producer myself I know what a legislative minefield it is – & even on a minor scale it is a true headache as my colleagues at even the smallest Farmers’ Markets regularly discuss. For example, one lady reently had a groan about WAMs when selling pickled onions – on an inspection visit to her home, Trading Standards told her that according to the size of jars she was using, she was not putting the minimum requisite number of onions therein. Her crop of pickling onions were individually slightly larger than usual owing one presumes, to the wet summer swelling the bulbs; & she literally couldn’t fit any more in! However she was made to change the quantities…to the point that the lids were almost forced off the jars (which cannot be good from an Environmental Health point of view.

    And when I was putting a single sentence on the side of our pots to describle our gelato I spent a full 24 hours studying the semantics of what individual words I could & couldn’t use – because if a single one had been ‘wrong’ I would not be permitted to use those pots….& I have to purchase a miniumum order of literally thousands of pounds’ worth at a time as they are only produced in Italy. So just a single word could prove an expensive mistake….eurgh.

    We have the added spice that whilst our on-farm premises are being built we presently craft our gelato at Food Centre Wales, which is in the neighbouring county – so we have to please TWO sets of EHOs & TSOs – not to mention the Dairy Hygiene Officer & DEFRA as well! And rest assured none of them ever agree with one another; even when from the same organisation the two cross-border parties will argue, with us left as confused ‘piggies in the legislative middle’, being told to do one thing by one party & something completely the opposite by the other. And then one of the other organisations throws in their ha’pennth…..hence about a third of my time is taken up with mind-numbing paperwork; about which I not only have nightmares with monotonous regularity, it’s probably the singular most thing which keeps me awake in the wee small hours every night. Heh, so much for “the Good Life”…?!

    I believe you don’t need formal permission for selling eggs or home-grown veggies from a gate-side stand as they haven’t been ‘converted’ in a kitchen; nor do you need to stamp the eggs if sold direct from the premises this way. But I used to sell spare eggs to people in my Welsh class & had to follow all sorts of rules to do so. It got to the point where the prep, grading & paperwork just wasn’t worth it any more. Which was such a shame – as people adored our ‘happy hen’ eggs.

    Hope I haven’t caused any consternation if it’s summat you haven’t already covered; but I thought it was more prudent to mention this issue than for you to potentially, inadvertently get into trouble over it. Anyway if you have any questions do email me & we’ll have a chat offline.

    Yours aye – Jo.

  4. Thanks for the recipe, sounds delicious.
    Just a tip for getting those sticky labels off used jars – I use a dab of eucalyptus oil on a bit of kitchen paper to rub off the residue glue, works a treat.

  5. Well, I just wish that we lived in your area. Your stand and all the lovely goodies would be so nice to visit and buy. x

  6. I have dreams, no I have nightmares.

    Once, many years ago, I was a stewardess with BOAC. I nighmare that I have been on standby for 30 years and that BOAC have only just caught up with me…it is always my fault that it has taken them so long to call me so I don’t argue when they require me to check in for a 14 day trip on Christmas Eve.

    I find it extremely confusing to drive to Heathrow and find the Cabin Crew briefing room. When I do eventually stagger on board it is most extremely impossible for me to remember the service schedule or where any of the emergency equipment is situated.

    But…but that’s not all..oh no…once I begin to negotiate my trolley down the aisle, not only do I find that I am wearing a completely different uniform to everyone else but that my uniform cannot stretch itself over my rather large bottom….and it’s always most certainly my fault !!!

    Then I tell myself, this is a nighmare kid…you don’t have to go through this anymore – be glad, very glad, that you are at home making wonderous things and communing with soul mates.

    Indeed and netcheral, I say !



  7. Thats a great idea mandi. I made lavendar bags this year, the only outlay was the little bags which worked out at about 15 or 20p each.

  8. I had a spark of invention the other day as I drove to work and immediately thought of you.
    I drive past a small industrial estate one of the units there is the depot for a company that delivers flowers to garages and their skip outside is always filled with the flower returns. I have to admit a couple of times in the winter having a sneaky look and some of them are really ok and still have some life in them.
    It was on my drive thinking about these ‘sell by date flowers’ that I wondered if your dehydrator would make flower petals into pot pourri?
    Done up in bags with some countrified string tie some dried orange slices and maybe a cinnamon stick pine cone etc a low cost addition with max profit for your stall??? And its not going to go off.

  9. Going to try this marmalade tomorrow. I’ve only been retired almost six months but my ‘school’ dreams are decreasing. Not only that, I sleep all night and do not wake up at 2am worrying about class and management issues.

  10. kate (uk)

    I still get ‘school’ dreams,always really, really silly ones, despite being retired for 13 years!

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