I know that January isn’t everyone’s favourite month, but I love it for a number of reasons. Aside from the fact that our wedding anniversary falls in the middle it’s also marmalade making season and I always try and make a massive batch that will keep us going all through the year. This of course never happens as I hand out jars to family members and friends, and usually by April we’re down to the last jar!
In my opinion there’s no need to mess around and add in all manner of fancy ingredients. I just want a good solid marmalade that I can thickly spread on my toast in the mornings. I also don’t tend to spend hours shredding the orange skin into evenly cut pieces; I just whack the lot into my food processor until I’m happy with the size of ‘bits’.
I don’t use preserving or jam sugar, just equal quantities of granulated sugar and demerara sugar to give a deep caramel colour to the marmalade. The marmalade will set naturally from the pips and pith in the fruit.
In essence, this is a no frills marmalade that will give you a proper start to your day and even cure a hangover (so I’ve been told!). I usually make double the quantity stated below and this makes around 6 large 2lb jars and then 6 normal jam size jars.
I sometimes buy jars to use, especially if they will be given as gifts, but I also hoard jars throughout the year to use. I think it’s quite funny when you hand a loved one some homemade marmalade in a jar labelled ‘apple sauce’! To make sure the jars clean and sterile you can do a couple of things; firstly wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water and then rinse all the soap suds away. Don’t dry using a tea towel. Place the jars on a baking tray and pop into the oven, preheated to around 120C and leave them to dry out, this usually takes 7-10 minutes. There’s no need to put the lids in the oven. After this time, be careful not to touch the inside of the jars and once your marmalade or jam is ready, carefully pour or ladle the mixture into the jars. Seal with the lids and leave to cool. The heat will seal the jars and cause suction so that when the jar is opened you should get a ‘pop’ sound.
The other method of sterilising is once you’ve washed and rinsed your jars and lids, pop them in the dishwasher on their own for a cycle and once the cycle has finished you can pour you marmalade or jam in as above. Seal with the lids and again the heat will cause suction….you get the idea.
Store somewhere cool away from direct sunlight and the marmalade should keep sealed for 2 years…not that it ever stays unopened for that long! Once opened, keep in the fridge and eat within 3 months – or until it starts to turn a little bit fuzzy. Again, we never reach this stage as all of us are marmalade fans in this family!
Finally, here’s the recipe – set aside around 45 minutes to an hour on day 1 to prepare the marmalade and then around 2.5 – 3 hours on day 2 to make the stuff. You can of course do other things whilst the marmalade is boiling, but I wouldn’t leave the house and be mindful if you have little ones around as things get hot and if you’re making a double batch then you will have one big pan of bubbling hot lava to deal with.
- 1kg Seville Oranges
- 1kg Granulated Sugar
- 1kg Demerara Sugar
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- 2.5 litres Cold Water
On day 1, have a large bowl and a food processor ready. Remove the knobbly bit at the top of the oranges and give them a quick wipe to get rid of any bit of dirt. Cut the oranges in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl then tear or cut the skin into 2-3 pieces and pop into the food processor, pips, pith and all. Whizz the oranges in batches and to your desired size of ‘bits’, then add to the juice in the bowl. Once you’ve done this with all the oranges, add the cold water and give it a good stir. Leave the mixture to mingle for8-10 hours or overnight, I usually cover it loosely with some cling film or foil.
In the morning or after the 8-10 hours, transfer the mixture to a large pan, making sure that you have enough space to add the sugars as well as space for the mixture to swell slightly and boil…nothing worse than cleaning a hob covered in burnt on marmalade – that would be me trying to be clever and not using a pan big enough!
Bring the mixture to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and leave for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally. After this time, turn the heat up to a medium and add the sugars, stirring until dissolved then turn the heat up to a boil. Leave to boil for 25-35 minutes and don not stir. Pop a couple of plates into the freezer these will be used to test if the marmalade has set. You’ll notice that a lot of the pips will have floated to the surface during this rolling boil, so I tend to scoop them out and discard them.
After 25 minutes spoon a little of the mixture onto one of your frozen plates and leave for around 15 seconds then drag your finger through. If the mixture holds its shape then the marmalade is set, but if the mixture runs back together then leave to boil for a further 5 minutes then test again. Once the marmalade is set, turn the heat off and leave it to settle for around 10-15 minutes, giving you a chance to get your jars ready.
Carefully pour the mixture (from a jug) into the jars or use a ladle, just be careful of your fingers. Seal the jars with their corresponding lids and leave out of reach and out of the way until they’ve cooled completely. Once cool, label the jars or quickly make yourself a round (or two) of hot buttered toast and slather on the scrumptious amber marmalade.