January and February herald many things, despair, desolation, cold, misery, darkness, bankruptcy, mumps, typhoid…..no I made some of that up, but generally it takes a bit to get the old fire stoked and get the year motoring up to speed. What it really means to some is Seville Oranges and that then means marmalade. Real, shiny, bitter, sweet, tangy, sumptuous, sticky marmalade.
I’ve never been a particular fan until one Christmas, The Flame floated a weighty tomb by Nigel Slater into my grubby mits. Entitled the 4th Kitchen Diaries it charts what grub is in and when throughout the year. February 4th the dashing, young, TV cook slots in some soupy words along with a recipe for ‘Seville Orange Marmalade’. A hip, arty shot enhances the already rampant taste buds. I’m hooked, within days an armful of the Spanish fruits are on the slab being dissecting and boiled. I supply below pics, ingredients and a method (roughly supplanted from Nigel’s sketch).
The ingredients are simplicity itself – Seville Oranges 1.3kg (about 15), Lemons 2 off and Golden granulated sugar 2.6kg. You’ll also need 2.5 litres of water.
In total this little lot set me back about £7.50, the sugar really costing the most. It tipped up about 10 jars of the golden juice. You will need to put away a few hours of your life. It is time you will never get back so you must enjoy it!! It is worth it though, trust me.
1) First up is to remove the peel and pith from the oranges and lemons. Nigel prescribes a cracking way here. Take a very sharp knife and score four lines down each fruit from top to bottom, as if you were cutting it into quarters. Let the knife cut through the peel without going into the fruit. The peel is then easy to remove by hand.
2) Cut the peel into fine shreds (or to a size you want them if you like a chunkier texture) and put them into a large bowl. This is good training for your knife skills!
3) Squeeze all the juice from the oranges and lemons into the bowl, but catching the pips and keeping them to one side. I found my ‘Joseph Joseph’ hand juicer balanced over a sieve, over the bowl, made this fairly fiddly task go by with minimum fuss. (I’m afraid the kitchen diaries took a bit of a dousing with squeezed orange at this point!). Chop the pulp up and put that in with the juice.
4) Add the 2.5 litres of cold water, pouring it into the bowl with the shredded peel. Tie the reserved orange and lemon pips in a muslin bag and push into the peel and juice. Set aside in a cold place and leave overnight.
5) The next day, tip the juice and shredded peel into a large stainless steel or enamelled pan (or a preserving pan for those lucky enough to have one) and push the muslin bag down under the juice. Bring to the boil then lower the heat so that the liquid continues to simmer merrily. It is ready when the peel is totally soft and translucent. This can take anything from 40 minutes to a good hour-and-a-half, depending purely on how thick you have cut your peel. (I left mine a good hour and a half to be sure, and the peel was then soft and the pith translucent).
6) Once the fruit is ready, lift out the muslin bag and leave it in a bowl until it is cool enough to handle. Start adding the sugar to the peel and juice then turn up the heat, bringing the marmalade to a rolling boil.
7) Squeeze every last bit of juice from the reserved muslin bag into the pan. Skim off any froth that rises to the surface. (If you don’t your preserve will be cloudy.) Leave at a fast boil for 15 minutes. Remove a tablespoon of the preserve, put it on a plate, and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes. If a thick skin forms on the surface of the refrigerated marmalade, then it is ready and you can switch the pan off. If the tester is still liquid, then let the marmalade boil for longer. Test every 10 to 15 minutes. Some mixtures can take up to 50 minutes to reach setting consistency.
8) Mine did work after 15 minutes. After turning the heat off I got my assortment of jars soaking in water with sterilising tablets. I then ladled the hot, burnt orange juice into the sterilised pots and sealed immediately.
Suffice to say I now have a veritable phalanx of sweet, bitter preserve to lash on to the bun, the toast, the crumpet and last but not least the cinnamon bagel. Enjoy.
Thanks to Nigel Slater and the 4th Edition of the Kitchen Diaries. Well worth a purchase from all good book shops and inter web portals.
Catch Nigel on twitter @NigelSlater where he provides a cordial and helpful repartee in 140 characters!