Marmalade factory

View from our bedroom window, today and every day this week
View from our bedroom window, today and every day this week

This is getting beyond a joke.  For a week now, with the exception of last Tuesday, it’s rained.  Sometimes it’s just drizzled.  Sometimes it’s rained good and proper.  Sometimes it’s poured.  Walks are cancelled, and the market’s a dismal affair with few stallholders and even fewer customers.

But I had to go yesterday, whatever the weather.  I’d been promised Seville oranges.  ‘Will you have any more next week?’ I asked anxiously.  ‘Oh yes, I’m bound to.’  ‘For we English types, I guess?’  ‘No.  Not at all.  I adore Sevilles.  I make tons of marmalade.  So do my neighbours.’

Well, that did surprise me.  Listen to this recipe from a French neighbour, a lovely woman whom I know to be a keen cook. (Sorry, Sharon, you’ve heard this tale.  Bear with me).

‘Take ordinary oranges.  Squeeze the juice, and then take the peel and boil it in plenty of water.  Throw away the water.  Repeat three times until you’ve got rid of the bitterness.  Chop the peel finely…..’  By then she’d lost me.  I didn’t really listen to the end of the recipe.  I felt that on the subject of good gutsy marmalade, this woman and I had nothing to say to one another.

Seville oranges waiting for the chop.
Seville oranges waiting for the chop.

Anyway, tired of downsizing for the time being, we’ve applied ourselves to the business of our marmalade factory.  We have our own needs to satisfy, and those of all our French friends, who profess themselves rather keen on our bright and bitter conserve.  This year, I’ve chosen Dan Leppard’s recipe.  I’ve got a variation on the go, as well as one version where I follow him to the letter.  Instead of using the whole peel in the finished product, I’m using only the thinly peeled zesty part, though of course all the pith will be boiled up with the pips before being discarded.

Chopped Seville oranges waiting for the pot.
Chopped Seville oranges waiting for the pot.

We’ve been scrubbing, squeezing and chopping half the morning, and now the two varieties are sitting waiting for tomorrow , when we can boil each of them to setting point, get out a crusty loaf, butter, and apply ourselves to the serious business of a taste-test.

20 thoughts on “Marmalade factory”

  1. Margaret – If possible I’d take an option for the taste-test – as far as finished your black currant jam, I’d be delighted to taste the orange marmalade as well – gorgeous / AnnAxxx

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  2. There’s something soothing to the soul about marmalade making. Like you we’ve had nothing but rain for weeks, hardly a break in the clouds. So last Sunday Andrew decided it was time to make this year’s marmalade and we devoted the afternoon to it. So now another dozen jars go into the preserves cupboard – a glorious burst of sunshine in the grey gloom.

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    1. Wonderful stuff, isn’t it? And yes, it makes us feel virtuous, accomplished and soothed, all at the same time. And a cupboardful of good things to last all year What’s not to like?

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  3. I love marmalade….. it is absolutely delicious on a crusty bread with butter.. tastes of sunshine… I hope your wet days are behind you…. our cold days are not, for now… it will warm up eventually. for now marmalade will have to do.

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    1. We were just talking over breakfast. Is marmalade as necessary to the American breakfast as it is to the British one? I think though, we have as much damp to look forward to as you have cold. I really do want some cold before winter’s over. You’ve had it tough, but we’ve barely had any.

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      1. no marmalade isn’t really popular here… only when I visit my step-mom (she’s a Scot from near Glasgow) do I partake in marmalade or when I am out, but it certainly is delicious… another cold weather day and off school and teaching

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      2. Isn’t it great? I think of an unimportant question like ‘do Americans like marmalade?’ which nevertheless I find I want an answer to, put it to a fellow blogger, and I have my answer before nightfall. Keep cosy on your no-school day

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  4. I felt inspired Margaret after reading your blog and then coming face to face with Sevilles at my local greengrocers…I had no idea how many to buy but he said people usually get 3 lbs and added that I would need a lemon too. I have been making jam and jellies for years but this was my marmalade first. I have a special friend who likes his marmalade dark and chunky so searched for a recipe on line and it involved simmering the oranges whole (and even using the slow cooker for extra space) which I have done and having potted and repotted it several days later, still not got a satisfactory set despite keeping pips etc in the mix till the end….might have to be third time lucky but thanks for reminding me how satisfying it is to make your own preserves. It is very bitter so I am wondering whether I didnt use enough sugar hence poor set. Recipe has dark sugar and black treacle in as well as white sugar – do you think they reduce the setting power?

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  5. Ooh, crikey. I’ve never been a marmalade agony aunt before. I used to use a recipe that simmers the oranges whole, but I settled against this in the end because I find the Dan Leppard recipe to which I linked in my blog, and others that are similar, which soak the raw fruit overnight, produce a fresher-tasting result. I still use double sugar to weight of fruit. It sounds a lot, but I think essential for both flavour and set. No, dark sugar should be fine, treacle too. But I find I really don’t need that much to get a suitably ‘dark’ tasting result. Good luck! Jams and jellies that decline to set are a nightmare and so disappointing. It happens to us all…..

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