A mind for marmalade

Sue's marmalade just put up in potsBy the time I get down to Seville in March, the orange crop will be finished and the 25,000 bitter orange trees that flourish in the city’s patios and plazas will be bursting into bloom all over again. The Sevillanos themselves barely use the oranges that have made their city – at least in British eyes – so famous. Almost the entire Seville orange crop goes to the UK for that most indispensable breakfast component: marmalade.


Making marmalade perfumes the house with marvellous, citrussy breakfasty smells and it’s not such a hassle as you might imagine. You can break it down into several steps and time the whole operation to your convenience. First cook the fruit whole until soft, then cut in half, scoop out the pith and pips and parcel them up into a muslin or J-cloth, and shred the peel. Then boil up the shredded peel with water and sugar. The lemons and kumquats aren’t essential, but they add a nice piquant touch.

Makes 8-10 x 450g jars
1.5 kg Seville oranges (about 12)
2 lemons
12 kumquats
2kg white sugar
500g brown sugar

  • Wash the fruit, put it (whole) in a preserving pan and add water to cover amply
  • Bring to a boil and simmer until oranges are quite soft and a fingernail will easily pierce the rind – about an hour
  • Lift the fruit out of the water with a slotted spoon, pour the water into a measuring jug
  • Cut fruit in half, scoop out all the pith and pips
  • Put pith and pips in a muslin or J-cloth, close up tightly and tie with string
  • Chop the rind (finely or coarsely, as you wish) and put back in the pan
  • Add enough water to the reserved cooking liquid to bring it up to 2 litres
  • Pour this over the chopped rind, add the bag of pith/pips
  • Add the sugar and bring the pan to a rolling boil – it should boil vigorously but watch it doesn’t boil over
  • Put a small saucer in the freezer to check setting point of the marmalade
  • Boil marmalade for anything from 40 minutes to 1 hour – it should be reduced by about one-third and the last drops from a spoon will fall away slightly stickily – test for setting by tipping a little into the chilled saucer and draw a finger through the marmalade: it should leave a distinct channel, like Moses and the Red Sea, and the surface of the marmalade will wrinkle slightly. If not, continue to boil.
  • Once setting point is reached, pour into clean, warm jars and cover while still hot

3 thoughts on “A mind for marmalade

    1. I got mine in Strasbourg, which isn’t a great deal of use to you – let me get my spies onto it but meanwhile, give Globus and Manor a go – they sometimes have them. When they do, word goes out fast and you have to beat a path to their door and corral all the supplies before other Brits beat you to it…

      1. Yes I’ll give those places a try – Or I’ll get my two son’s to bring a bag over from the UK on their next holidays which are in February.
        Its funny how you don’t find them in Migros & Coop etc, but you have no problems finding jars of bitter marmalade!

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