Seville oranges are available for a short time only, in late winter, but they do make the best marmalade, which makes finding them worth the effort. Because of their extremely bitter taste, they are used only for cooking, but it is this robust quality that makes them particularly good when cooked and sweetened. You are either a cut-rind person or a smooth marmalade person, but shreds of perfectly cooked sweetened rind suspended in this amber jelly get my vote any day.
MAKES: about 6 cups
- 2 pounds Seville oranges
- 1 small lemon
- 6 cups sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the whole fruits in a heavy, lidded casserole or a preserving pan that will fit in the oven. Pour in 5 cups of water and bring it to simmering point on the cooktop.
- Cover the pan (if using a preserving pan, make a lid from aluminum foil), and place in the oven. Poach the fruit for 2½–3 hours, by which time the skins will be soft.
- Using a spoon, lift the fruit out of the liquid into a colander. When cool enough to handle, cut each fruit in half and scoop out the pulp with a spoon, leaving just the peel, placing the pulp, pith, and seeds in a muslin bag suspended over a bowl to catch any drips. (Alternatively, use a large piece of muslin gathered into a bag and tied with string). Measure the liquid, adding any collected in the bowl under the drained pulp, and if necessary add water to make it up to 1 quart.
- Place the muslin bag in a saucepan with enough poaching liquid to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Leave until cool enough to handle, then squeeze the bag to get as much of the liquid as possible from the pulp. Discard the bag and its contents.
- Chop the rind into thin strips and put into a preserving pan. Add all the poaching liquid. If the mixture is cold, you can add the sugar without warming it; otherwise you will need to warm the sugar first. Stir the sugar into the orange liquid over a low heat until it is completely dissolved and the liquid is clear, then boil rapidly for 15 minutes and test for setting point.
- Turn off the heat and leave the marmalade to stand for 15 minutes, then stir to distribute the peel. Skim if necessary. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal