‘a taste of the sun on toast’

Last year I found this article by Nigel Slater, unfortunately at the time of reading it I’d missed the Seville orange season by just a few weeks. I stashed it away in my memory banks until a couple of days ago, which happened to fall perfectly in the middle of my window of Seville marmalade making opportunity! I love Nigels infectiously passionate way of writing about food, it always compels me to roll up my sleeves and get busy in the kitchen. So this weekend I decided to do just that and pop my marmalade making cherry, or should that be orange!

Nigel’s recipe calls for 12 Seville oranges and 2 lemons…

Scrub them really well in case they’ve been sprayed with any nasties, then score them into quarters from top to bottom (not piercing the flesh) and peel off the rind…

Shred the rind into thin strips. I found this job quite enjoyable with the aid of some good tunes and a sharp knife. I opted for a medium cut marmalade (it would have been fine but my knife skills aren’t up to much and I got a bit distracted by the music I was listening to :)) If you prefer yours chunky just cut thicker slices…

Put the peel into a large pot. Squeeze the juice from the fruit into a measuring jug but don’t throw away the pips, flesh and pith!

Make the juice up to 4 litres with cold water and pour into the pot with the peel. Tie the fleshy leftovers in a muslin bundle and submerge it in the pot…

Cover the pot and leave it in a cool place overnight to infuse.

The next day bring the juice and the peel to the boil… 

Once boiling, turn it down to a simmer and leave it bubbling away until the peel is soft and transluscent. Nigel says that this can take anything from 40 minutes to an hour and a half but mine only needed 30 minutes to reach the perfect texture.

Remove the muslin bag of goodies and set it aside to cool.

At this point you add 1.25kg unrefined golden granulated sugar and turn up the heat.

As soon as the muslin bundle is cool enough to handle you need to squeeze every last drop of goodness out of the orange innards. The viscous liquid that came out had the delightful consistency of snot, which made for a bit of a weird sensation. But this magic goo is very important as it’s laden with masses of natural pectin, which helps the marmalade to set.

You need to bring the marmalade to a rolling boil and regularly skim off any froth that rises to the surface, otherwise your preserve will end up cloudy. This part of the whole process is definitely the most time consuming. I watched my boiling pot like a hawk wanting to make sure that I caught it at the exact point that it reached setting consistency. Nigel recommends boiling it initially for a good 15 minutes and then testing it by spooning a tablespoon of marmalade onto a plate and putting it in the fridge for a few minutes. If a thick skin forms on the surface of the chilled marmalade…it’s ready. If not, then keep it boiling and repeat the test every 10-15 minutes.

I had to exercise some real patience (not my strong point) as my marmalade took its own sweet time to reach setting point…a pot watching, froth skimming, nail biting 70 minutes! quite a bit longer than Nigel’s worst case scenario of 50 minutes.

But the gorgeous deep, rich preserve I was left with was worth every second…

Spoon the marmalade straight into sterilised jars and seal them immediately…

I resisted the strong urge to slather it straight into some toast and made myself seal every jar and wait until the marmalade was fully set before sampling it for the first time.

In the words of Mr Nigel Slater “here it is, a little pot of bright, shining happiness, full of bittersweet flavour and stinging thumbs”…

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