Making marmalade - January is the right time to do it

Thoughts turn to tangy treats

I recently had a good discovery in our jam store – a jar of marmalade.

Our store has gone through various guises and locations over the years and in the latest move, the organisation was perhaps not quite as thorough as it might have been, so it all got a bit muddled. So when I was searching for a jar of apple jelly, I found a prized pot of marmalade, which I thought we had run out of months before.

With marmalade in mind, and our cupboard now bare, with that last jar finished over the Christmas break, I decided it was time to make some.

And it’s the time of year when, by tradition, the thoughts of some turn to making marmalade as it is easier to get hold of the right oranges. If you don’t think like that, then this year might be a good one to start, as the harvest for Seville oranges was above average this year, according to reports.

Seville oranges are usually available at this time of year

Seville oranges are used, rather than their sweeter cousins, because they have a deeper, bittersweet flavour, and a higher content of pectin, which aids setting.

We are lucky where we live, as we have access to a weekly market, where the fruit and veg stall has many of the in-season products, so it was great to see a good supply of Seville oranges.

With my product bag packed with 14 oranges, I headed home to see what recipe to follow to make my orange treat that is a part of a traditional breakfast.

I have no doubt there are plenty of options to be found online and it is always worth exploring to find a recipe that appeals the most but having been making jam for some years from the same book, I took a look in that first – and there were two to choose from.

The recipes for this year's marmalade were taken from Jams, Pickles and Chutneys, by Bridget Jones (no, not that one)

The book I was using was Jams, Pickles & Chutneys, by Bridget Jones (no, not that one) and was published in 1983, so it could be classed as a vintage edition now.

As it happened, they both required 2lbs of fruit, and as it happened that was the weight of seven oranges, so I had just the right amount to make both.

One had a touch of spice, as it included cloves and cinnamon sticks, and the other had a touch more lemon juice in it but the preparation was a bit different.

For the spiced marmalade, the whole fruit was boiled in a pan for two hours or so, with the cinnamon and cloves and then chopped up to go in the finished product, so most of the fruit will be consumed.

For the spiced marmalade, the whole fruit was boiled with cinnamon sticks and cloves.

With the other one, the rind was peeled and then chopped to go loose in the pan with the water, while the rest of the fruit was juiced, then chopped, placed in a muslin bag and boiled up with the rest of the liquor. Afterwards, the pulp was disposed of (on the compost heap) and in both cases, sugar was added to the liquid and boiled until it reached setting point (which is where the pectin comes in useful).

For the traditional marmalade, the rind was chopped up and used in the finished product.

Of course, it does require large amounts of sugar to make the preserve and, given the choice, I like to use Silver Spoon sugar as it is made from sugar beet, grown on farms, which are mainly on the eastern side of England. Being grown and processed in this country, it hasn't travelled great distances around the world and it helps to support British farmers.

Silver Spoon sugar is made from sugar beet, which is grown on British farms

As a result of a busy Saturday morning in the kitchen, the cupboard is no longer bare, when it comes to marmalade. Altogether, we had 12 jars ready to store, and following our recycling ethos, they varied in size from old jars that have formerly stored mayonnaise, pesto, honey and olives but once they are cleaned of their labels and sterilised with boiling water, they were ready to be used again.

The freshly made marmalade was potted up in a variety of reused jars.

So now we are ready to enjoy the tangy taste of marmalade on a slice of toast, made from homemade bread (but more on that another day).

Of course, if you don’t feel inclined or have the wherewithal to make marmalade, it is widely available to buy in many shops – but I do like the homemade variety in the eclectic range of jars that we have.

But whichever way you decide to go, enjoy your breakfast.

Further reading

For more information about Seville oranges, click here or here.