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.


  • 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.

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