Seville orange marmalade

Pre­serves aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. I have a cup­board full of brown, sludgy tomato chut­ney, which looks so repuls­ive I can’t even face tip­ping it into the bin. I knew it was a dis­aster from the begin­ning. The kit­chen was thick with the astrin­gent stench of vin­egar, a smell that clears a blocked nose quicker than a nasal inhaler. As I stirred the seeth­ing beige brew, even my dog sat dis­ap­prov­ingly out­side the door. But Seville orange marmalade. Now that’s a whole new story.

Seville oranges aren’t around for long. At a pinch, you can freeze them whole until the marmalade-making urge strikes. The main thing is to get your hands on some while you can. This recipe makes four half litre jars. I always make double, but it’s never enough.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 kg Seville oranges
  • 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 2.25 kg gran­u­lated sugar
  • muslin
  • ster­il­ised jars

Cut the oranges in half. Save the pips and squeeze out the juice. Remove the pith and flesh and put both in a large square of muslin along with the pips. Tie a large knot in the muslin and plonk the bundle into the pre­serving pan. Cut the skin into the strips the size you like to eat. I think scis­sors are the easi­est way to do it. Tip the orange and lemon peel into the pan with 4 pints of cold water, the juice and the muslin bag. Boil and then sim­mer without a lid for 2 hours.

Take out the muslin bundle and squeeze the juice from it into the pan. Put the bag back in. Add 1lb of sugar for every pint of liquid you have left (you should have around 3 pints) and then stir for fif­teen minutes on a low heat until the sugar has dis­solved. Boil the mix­ture rap­idly for about 45 minutes. After 20 minutes, start test­ing the mix­ture by pla­cing a tea­spoon on a cold sau­cer and push­ing at it with your fin­ger. When it wrinkles, take it off the heat and leave it to stand for 10 minutes.

Tip the marmalade into warm, ster­il­ised jars and cover the tops with waxed discs. Close the lids when the marmalade is cool. Then wrestle with your con­science and see if you can bear to give any away. I rarely do.