January is depressing so get in your kitchen and filled these empty cupboards with jars of delicious home-made marmalade. It is the only month you’ll find the Seville oranges so we’ve got to make an effort. I always buy more and freeze them, just in case I run out during the year…
HOME-MADE SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE without added pectin (to make about 5 x 500ml pots)
- 1.4 kg seville oranges (available only in January)
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2.5 kg granulated sugar
- 2L water
Place a sheet of muslin in a big bowl and have a large chopping board ready. Rinse the fruits well, dry them, cut them in half and juice them. Keep the juice aside for now and place the pips in the muslin (do not throw them away as they are filled with natural pectin). With a sharp knife, chop your halved peels in quarters and try to remove as much pith as you can from the zest (I usually do this by making a little slash with the knife in one corner and peel it off by hands). Conserve the pith and add it to your pips in the muslin. When all your peels are “pith free” you can decide what style of marmalade you want. You can go classic and cut the zest in thin slices, or traditional and cut the zest in bigger chunks. I went for thin slices first but quickly realised what a long and painful process it was. And most importantly, the slices fall off the bread when dipped in tea…I decided for my next batch to use the small attachment of my food processor and process all the zest quarters to end up with little fat cubes.
Take the largest pan you have, a jam pan preferably. I used my Le Creuset big casserole pan. Place 2L of water, the juices and the chopped zest in the pan. Close the muslin bag very tightly and add it to the pan making sure it is immersed. Simmer for about 2h or until the zests feel soft. During this time, the pectin from the pith and pips will be released in the pan so it is important not to overlook this step otherwise your marmalade will never set.
After 2 hours, take the muslin bag out and let it cool slightly on a plate. Add the sugar to the mixture and mix well to make sure it is dissolved properly. At this point, if you don’t want your fruits to loose too much colour, you can add jam sugar with pectin already added instead of granulated sugar. I like the deep orange colour of this marmalade so I usually use normal sugar. Place a few wooden spoons in the freezer to cool down to use for testing the setting point.
When the muslin bag is cooler, squeeze it hard between your hands to release an opaque sticky liquid which is the concentrated pectin coming from the pips and piths. Squeeze it all out, add your natural pectin to the pan and increase the heat. When the mixture is boiling hard, keep it going for about 25minutes. Start testing the setting status by placing a little marmalade onto a cold wooden spoon and leave in the fridge for a few minutes. The marmalade is set when there is a skin that sticks to your finger when you touch it.
Then turn off the heat and leave it to rest while you prepare your pots. The pots should be clean, it’s even better if they just come out of the dish washer and still warm. Skin away any white scum at the surface of your jam and fill your pots to the top. Clean the rim of the pot with kitchen paper and place the lid on firmly, then turn your pots upside down to provide total sterilisation (you might hear a little pop when the air is released from the pot). When cooled, clean the pot and label. I love stacking my marmalade pots in the pantry! It is such a rewarding sight!
Runny marmalade! If the marmalade is not set when it is cooled, do not panic nothing is lost yet. It happened to me when I did tangerine marmalade, I thought I reached the setting point but it turned out I rushed through it and wasn’t quite there yet. A runny marmalade is not the end of the world, but if you were planning to give it as gifts then here is what I did. Open all your pots and pour everything back in the pan. Now you have 2 choices: either start again where you’ve stopped: Boil and test the setting point again, or buy some pectin packets (not jam sugar but pure pectin packets). The first option might caramelised your marmalade a little more and might take the flavour of the fruit away a little bit but you will create a beautiful dark old-fashion marmalade. The second solution will be fast but you have to go to a big supermarket to find pectin packets. If you choose the second solution, use only one packet and do not add it straight to your pan! Mix the pectin to a few tbsp of sugar and then add it to the mixture. Boil it for 10/15 minutes and test the setting point. You should reach it rapidly without “caramelising” your marmalade too much.