Bears coming out of hibernation

Yes, I’ve been in a deep hibernation these days. But what better excuse to shake off some winter blues with a quintessentially English preserve-marmalade! Even bears like marmalade (think Paddington).

My clever husband managed to scoop probably the last dozen of Seville oranges down in Kensington market (there’s a short window for the season) and I set about to make the classic sweet/tart delicacy. Seville#1 As everyone has their favourite version, I’ll highlight a couple of points on technique rather than ingredients (which are essentially oranges, water and sugar in equal weight amounts) It is a bit labour intensive but I divided the tasks into the first part juicing and slicing and then soaking overnight, the second part boiling and jarring. Both parts require patience! (not a strong suit of mine) so if you are feeling lazy and think you can short cut it-don’t! Make some sort of other easy jam, as the effort, while time-consuming is really worth it. The full recipe is listed at the end of this but I’ll just add a little bit more on technique….

  • When juicing save your hand (which you’ll need for slicing) and use an electric lemon juicer
  • Once you’ve juiced-save the pits and pulp to wrap in a cheesecloth-this is where your pectin comes from and will help set the marmalade
  • Slice your orange halves as thin as you can manage (unless you want thick-cut marmalade which is perfectly acceptable). The sharper the knife the better
  • Generally recipes use weight rather than volume so having a reliable kitchen scale is important
  • Patience, patience, patience! When boiling it not only needs to get up to a temp. of c. 220 F/104.4 C, the “wrinkle” plate test should also be used. I had to do it several times before it looked like it was going to set

But what a lovely result-A little jar of sunshine when winter still won’t let go its icy grips! Marmontoast Recipe 1) To make about four 12-ounce jars, scrub 6 Seville oranges in hot water to remove any wax film. 2) Halve and juice the oranges, reserving the juice. 3) Scrape out each juiced half and reserve all the seeds and pulp. 4) Cut the rind into thin slices or quarter-inch cubes. (Cutting by hand is preferable; if using a food processor be sure not to over-process into a puree.) 5) Turn out the reserved pulp and seeds onto a doubled square of cheesecloth and tie it closed. 6) Using a kitchen scale, weigh the rind with the bundle and add enough water to the juice to bring it to an equal weight. (I actually ended up adding about a cup and a half more water-maybe the oranges weren’t so juciy-in any event you can fudge it a bit-just so that it looks like the peels are submerged) 7) Simmer the rind and the bundle in the liquid in the pan. Cook until the rind is completely tender — about forty-five minutes to an hour. 8) Twenty minutes or so before the rind is done, warm an equal weight of sugar in a baking pan set in the middle rack of a low (275-300°) oven for 15 – 20 minutes. 9) When the rind is cooked, remove the cheesecloth bundle, scraping off any bits of rind, and squeeze it gently over the pot. 10) Add the heated sugar and boil until liquid is golden and thick and the temperature reaches 222° on a candy thermometer, about 30 – 45 minutes. To check whether marmalade is thick enough to set, spoon about 1 tablespoon onto a small plate, transfer to the freezer for 2 minutes, then tilt plate; if the marmalade’s surface “wrinkles,” it’s done. 11) Spoon hot marmalade into 4 hot, sterilized 12-oz. canning jars. Set lids on top and seal.