I will never forget the first time I tasted home made marmalade. I was visiting relatives in Scotland. They lived on a sweet farm just outside Dumfries. A behemoth, ancient Aga stove dominated their kitchen. Several large pots simmered away and filled the air with the perfume of oranges. Knives flashed and turned the knobbly peel of Seville oranges into fine, slender slices. Batches of the most perfect of preserves, homemade marmalade, cooled in small jars.
The season for these sour oranges is short. Just a few weeks in late January and February. Sometimes you can still find them in stores as late as March. Every marmalade aficionado know the best marmalade uses Seville oranges. Their thick, bitter peel holds the secret to this most heavenly concoction. It is this peel and pits that supply the necessary pectin. One can buy marmalade but it never tastes quite as delicious or gives us the same satisfaction of making it ourselves .
Making Seville orange marmalade is a two day process. However, it is not difficult. You juice the oranges and thinly slice or finely chop the rind the first day and have it sit quietly over night. The next day you add the sugar and cook the marmalade. You do need a good size pot and a candy thermometer. Absolutely no pectin is added.
One does not refer to marmalade as jam. Jam is made with fruit and even vegetables, but marmalade is always and only made with citrus fruits. The name is Portuguese in origin and refers to a preserve made with quince.
|seville orange marmalade|| |
- 6 Seville oranges or other sour oranges (2 pounds /1 kg total weight) preferably organic
- 1 navel orange, preferably organic
- 10 cups (2.5 liters) water
- pinch of fine sea salt
- 8 cups (l.6 kg) sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cognac, whiskey or Grand Marnier (optional)
- Sterilize jars (see chef''s note)
- On day one halve the oranges and squeeze out the juice and seeds from each half into a mesh strainer set over a medium sized bowl.
- After all the oranges have been squeezed place the seeds on to a generous piece of double layer cheesecloth. Gather up the sides and tie securely with kitchen string.
- Cut each rind in half and then slice as thinly as possible. If you are having problems slicing the orange peel thinly try using a very sharp serrated knife.
- Put the oranges slices into a large pot or a large Dutch oven. Add the orange juice, water, the bag of seeds and salt.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. Be sure to maintain this medium heat and not let the temperature drop to low.
- Remove from the heat and cover. Let stand overnight at room temperature.
- The next day stir in the sugar and set the pot over high heat.
- Bring the mixture to a boil then decrease the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Cook stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture is not burning on the bottom until the marmalade reaches the jelling point. Depending on your like your marmalade your candy thermometer should register 217F (110C) for a thick spread, or if you want a runny marmalade take it to slightly before those temperatures.
- If white sum occasionally rise to the top, skim it off with a large spoon.
- Stir in the spirits if using and remove the bag of seeds squeezing it with a pair of tons to extract as much marmalade from it as possible.
- Ladle the marmalade into the sterilized jars and cover tightly. Let cool and refrigerate.
- The marmalade will keep for at least 6 months in the refrigerator or 1 year in the freezer.
- Chef's note:
- You can sterilize your jars in the dish washer or your oven but I prefer to to boil my jars for 5 minutes. I also sterilize my tongs and spoons. It is important when doing any type of preserving or caning that you do no cross-contaminate your product.