The satisfaction of a clear, tangy marmalade is an annual joy.
There are many recipes for marmalade; many iterations and complexities. In essence is it a time consuming, fiddly process with very few successful shortcuts that really work. So simply, here is the most reliable recipe I have found after years of experimentation.
- A large preserving pan, preferably stainless steel with a handle and pourer
- Some jars sterilised using boiling water, or the pans’ programme of a dishwasher
- A muslin bag or piece of muslin which can be tied using cooks’ string
- It’s useful to have a jam thermometer
- Chopping board
- orange squeezer
- sharp knife
- a couple of small plates and a couple of dinner plates
- a ladle which you’ve poured boiling water over
- A wide-mouthed metal funnel is useful.
- 2 kilos of Seville oranges
- 2 lemons (unwaxed is best)
- 4 litres of water
- 4 kilos of sugar (preserving or granulated). Preserving is said to create a clearer marmalade
- a small knob of butter
Pop the plates into a fridge or freezer and then simply cut the oranges and two lemons in half and juice them all keeping all the pith and pips. These go into the muslin bag. (I use a piece of muslin which I plonk in a measuring jug or a bowl, with the muslin’s edges coming out of the receptacle. I can then tie it all together when needed).
Scrape the white pith from the squeezed oranges along any other detritus, pips, stalk-ends etc. into the muslin. Pour the water and the juice into the pan. Discard the two lemons having scraped the pith and pips into the muslin bag too.
Then take each orange half and start cutting the rind into strips. How thick or thin is your choice. This is a simple but laborious process. When you’ve finished pour all the cut rind into the pan; place any further bits and pieces from the chopping board into the muslin and tie it up securely. Place the muslin in the pan a bring it to the boil; then reduce the heat and simmer for between 90 minutes and 2 hours until the liquid has evaporated by about half. You can remove any scum that appears using a wooden spoon and then add a small knob of butter; this clears the remaining scum. Then use two wooden spoons to squeeze the muslin into the pan and then remove it onto a dinner plate and squeeze it with another plate to extract the pectin and thick gloop. Be careful as it’s going to be hot, and you don’t want it either breaking open on splattering on you. Scrape the pectin gloop from the plate back into the preserving pan and turn the heat up a little.
Then add the sugar a kilo at a time. Stir carefully with a long wooden spoon until the sugar has all dissolved, and then turn the heat up to a rolling boil. After about 15 minutes or so the mixture should have reached the setting point of 222F or 105C. It could take up to another 20 minutes of fast boiling. It’s worth checking the temperature carefully using the thermometer and double check by shoving a small dollop on to one of the plates in the fridge. If the marmalade is gloopy and wrinkly, you’ve got there! Good Housekeeping has some great explanations and tips about marmalade, and you can find them here.
Finally, turn off the pan and place some newspaper on the surface you are going to use to bottle it all up as it can be sticky and messy. Ladle the marmalade from the pan into the jars (using the funnel if you have one). Wipe the jars with a damp cloth (they will be hot, and it’s a good time to get the stickiness off them). Then put on the lids whilst still hot. And let them all set. It can take up to 24 hours.