Forget politics. Here in the UK, the news story that really means something to any right-thinking English man and woman is that marmalade sales are falling. The reason though, according to most commentators, is that many of us prefer to make our own. I do.
Over the last few years, I’ve been so glad to have come across Jane Grigson’s recipe, which gets me out of the whole business of hacking mounds of tough raw orange peel into marmalade sized chunks. It delivers a tasty sweet and bitter marmalade which beats anything you’ll meet on the grocer’s shelf
Our house, now a temple to magnolia paint and packing cases, is currently innocent of recipe books. Somehow I contrived to find my preserving pan the other day, and make her marmalade, or something jolly like it, from memory. Impressive, huh?
I kg. seville oranges (about 10 fruits)
3.4 litres water
2 kg. granulated sugar, or half granulated, half light muscovado.
Scrub the seville oranges and the lemon, and place in a large pan with the water. Bring to the boil and simmer till the fruit is soft – maybe an hour or so. Allow to cool. Cut the oranges in half, scoop out the flesh and pips and reserve in a large muslin square. Chop the skin as thick or as thin as you chose – it’s so easy now the skin is soft.
Tie the muslin with its contents into a bag, and put it, with the orange peel, remaining water (about a third will have evaporated) and sugar, into a preserving pan. Bring the mixture slowly to the boil, so that the sugar dissolves, then cook rapidly till setting point is reached (I can’t manage without my jam thermometer, but that’s pathetic. Most people seem happy enough to test for the setting point by putting a spoonful of marmalade onto a cold saucer, and seeing if it crinkles as you push your finger through the cooled mixture).