My mother makes marmalade every year, but as The Husband and The Teen don’t like it (more fool them) I’ve never made my own. However this year I ventured into those unknown waters and discovered what will now be What I Do Each January from here on. It’s easier than I anticipated, especially if you have a sugar thermometer like I do which helpfully says ‘Jam’ on it so that you know when the bubbling mass of volcanically hot sugary orangeyness has reached setting point. It made the house smell rather wonderful too. Bonus. Makes 4 and a bit standard jam jars full, but by all means double the recipe – I can’t because I haven’t got a big enough pan, just be warned that you need PLENTY of space to allow the marmalade to bubble up.
500g seville oranges
1kg granulated sugar
30cm square (ish) piece of muslin
4 jam jars (sterilised, see below)
Wax circle discs
- Weigh your biggest saucepan (seriously, it helps later on), then put a sieve on top of it.
- Halve your oranges and squeeze out all of the juice into the pan, using the sieve to catch all the pith and pips, then scrape all of said pith and pips into the muslin square along with any fleshy bits left inside the peel, tie it in a knot to keep the pectin filled contents safely enclosed. Chuck it into the pan too.
- Slice the peel of the oranges as thinly as you can (this takes a while), then throw them in the pot.
- Pour over 1.25 litres of cold water, cover, and leave to steep overnight. The overnight bit is not strictly necessary, but it nicely splits the task into two parts, should help to soften the peel and help to release the pectin, and reduces the boiling time by up to an hour.
- Bring your saucepan up to the boil, then reduce the heat a little and allow to simmer for 1.5 hours. The peel should now definitely be soft.
- After the first hour and a bit, get cracking with sterilising your jars (see below).
- Turn off the heat, hoick out the muslin bag and leave it to cool on a plate for 10 minutes until cool enough to handle (or use rubber gloves) – then squeeze that bag over the saucepan until you’ve extracted as much gloopy pectin juice as possible.
- Weigh your pan again – you want it to have increased in weight by 775-800g. If it’s a little low pour in some extra water. If a little high, pop it onto a high boil to reduce a bit.
- Tip in the sugar, bring the pot up to a good simmer, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Then stop stirring.
- Increase the heat, pop in your sugar thermometer (see below below if you haven’t got one), and let the marmalade bubble away (it’ll rise up in the pan) until the temperature reaches 105C, that’s the magic setting point.
- Leave to cool for 15 mins or so, tip into a jug for easier pouring, then fill each jar up to a cm or so before the rim, pop on a wax disc (wax side down), screw on the lid, and allow to cool completely.
- You’ve made marmalade!
How to sterilise jars:
- Heat oven to 160C, and while it’s doing that wash your empty jam jars and lids in hot soapy water.
- Rinse each jar/lid and place them upside down on a baking tray while still wet.
- Pop the tray into the oven for 15 minutes, et voilà! you’ve got sterilised jars.
How to find the setting point if you haven’t got a sugar thermometer:
- When you’re doing the first long simmer, put 4 small saucers into the freezer.
- As you’re doing the short rapid boil (step 6 of part 2), set a timer for 8 minutes. At this point, the marmalade should have bubbled up in the pan.
- Grab one of your chilled saucers, spoon a little marmalade onto it, return the plate to the freezer for 1 minute, then push your finger along the marmalade – if it wrinkles (and stays wrinkled), you’re golden. If not, boil the marmalade for another couple of minutes and try again. And again. And again. Then go and buy a sugar thermometer 🙂