Recipé for orange marmalade

On this page: Marmalade (orange jam or orange preserve) is a typical part of the traditional British breakfast, usually eaten with toast and butter. It's also very good as a flavouring for steamed sponges or cakes.

jar of marmaladeIf you make this in January (in the northern hemisphere) you can buy the bitter Seville oranges that are traditional to make marmalade, but this recipé is just as good made with sweet oranges - the result is very fruity and tangy, even though without the edge of bitterness from the sevilles. Quantities here make about 6 standard (450g) jamjars full.

Essentials

A heavy enamel or stainless pan big enough to hold several litres of water (not a brass pan - who wants dissolved copper in their breakfast spread?), a piece of cloth or cloth bag to hold the pips, and a sugar thermometer. I find that the saucer and flake tests for setting are not reliable with marmalade - by these tests, the last batch I made should have been sloppy, but it set like concrete! The thermometer was bang on, however.

The table below has two columns, one for each variety.

Sweet orange marmalade Seville orange marmalade
Ingredients

6 sweet oranges and a lemon
2.3 litres water
1.8 kg granulated sugar

Ingredients

6 seville (bitter) oranges
2.3 litres water
1.8 kg granulated sugar

Method

Halve the lemon and squeeze out the juice to use later.

Put the oranges, lemon peels and water in the pan, and bring to a simmer. Simmer till the fruit is soft when pierced with a metal skewer - probably about 40 minutes. Lift them out and leave to cool in a shallow tray - useful to catch the drips, and do the rest of the preparation. Don't throw the water away!

Use a sharp knife (serrated is best) to quarter the peels longitudinally, and remove carefully from the flesh - use your fingers to slip them off. Slice the peel neatly into strips about 1 by 0.25 cms, or to taste.

For sweet oranges, you should be left with neat globes of flesh. Pull the segments apart and slice each thinly with the serrated knife, putting the pips in the cloth. Do the same to the lemon. Add the flesh to the peel and keep aside in a basin.

Tie up the pips and boil in the water for 20 minutes. Remove and squeeze dry into the pan to extract pectin, then discard. Add the flesh and peel, and any juice or drips in the tray to the water, and the lemon juice.

Method

Put the oranges and water in the pan, and bring to a simmer. Simmer till the fruit is soft when pierced with a metal skewer - probably about 30 minutes. Lift them out and leave to cool in a shallow tray - useful to catch the drips, and do the rest of the preparation. Don't throw the water away!

Use a sharp knife (serrated is best) to quarter the peels longitudinally, and remove carefully from the flesh - use your fingers to slip them off. Slice the peel neatly into strips about 1 by 0.25 cms, or to taste.

For sevilles, you'll probably end up with a soggy mass of pith and pips. There are two ways I've tackled this - rootle through it squeezing out what flesh you can, or put the whole lot in a mouli grater with a coarse disc and squash the flesh through. I now do the latter, but you do get some shreds of pips this way which would disqualify it if you make preserves for exhibition rather than just eating. In either case, add the flesh to the peel in a basin, and put the pips and pith in the cloth.

Tie up the pips and boil in the water for 20 minutes. Remove and squeeze dry into the pan to extract pectin, then discard. Add the flesh and peel, and any juice or drips in the tray, to the water.

For both recipés:

Warm the sugar (oven or microwave) and tip into the water, stirring gently to dissolve. Then boil hard till it reaches setting point on the thermometer (105 ºC; 220 ºF). Stir to disperse any foam, and leave to cool for about 15 minutes. Stir again to distribute the peel.

Pot into warmed jars, and seal with waxed discs and cellophane or screw-top lids while hot.

Tips: If you run out of time, I have left the jam after I have just added the sugar for a day, then boiled it up successfully.