Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bitter orange marmalade

Marmalade is a staple of English breakfasts. We Brits prefer it to be made with  bitter (Seville) oranges. These are only in season in the Northern hemisphere for a few weeks in January. So you have to strike quickly and make a lot if you want to have enough for the year - and for the inevitable gifts when people discover what you are making.
There is a kind of master recipe for this - identifying basic technique, quantities of ingredients, cooking time, doneness, etc. But you can get some interesting variations by changing the kind of sugar you use and the kinds of lemons.
This year, I made 2 batches - totaling about 20lbs. The first batch I used all granulated white sugar. For the second batch I used jaggery (Indian raw can sugar)  for some of the granulated sugar. The photographs in this posting come from the jaggery-based version. The amounts are all metric.


1.2 Kg whole Seville oranges
300 gm whole lemon (I used 2 Meyer lemons)
3 Liters water
2.2 Kg sugar (When I used the jaggery, I used 1.9Kg granulated and 300 gm jaggery)


Wash the Seville oranges and Meyer lemons. Cut each in half around the equator. Place some cheesecloth over a strainer and rest the strainer over a non-reactive bowl. You will be collecting the orange pips (seeds) in the cheesecloth. These pips contain a lot of pectin - necessary for getting the marmalade to set.
Using a reamer, juice the oranges and lemons into the cheesecloth, catching all the pips.

 Seville oranges have a lot of pips! Don't tie off the cheesecloth until after you have cut up the oranges into strips.
In another bowl, weigh out the sugar. In the picture below, you can see some larger pieces of jaggery
 Cut each orange (and lemon) half into quarters. Then slice the quarters into thin strips. As a reference, I get 12 - 16 strips out of each quarter. Don't worry too much about pith, bits of orangle flesh. However if you do discover some extra pips, add them to the cheesecloth
 When you have chopped up all of the oranges and lemons, tie up the cheesecloth containing the pips, so that none of the pips can escape.
 Add the sliced oranges and lemons, the water and the pips pouch to a large pan. Tie the pouch's string to the side handle if any to stop it from falling into the pot.

Gently the simmer the pot for about 90 minutes - until the orange peel is completely soft. Remove the pouch, and allow it to cool.
Meanwhile, add the sugars to the pot and stir until completely dissolved. This is very important. Your marmalade may prematurely crystallize if you do not do this.
After it has cooled sufficiently, queeze the pouch containing the pips into a bowl. There should be plenty of thick, pale orange liquid. This is the pectin and is necessary for the marmalade to set.
Add the pectin to the pot containing the oranges and dissolved sugar. Bring to the boil, stirring frequently. Once the mixture is at the boil, boil for at least 15 minutes. Ideally you want the liquid temperature to rise to 224 degrees (F). Once you are happy with the texture of the marmalade, you can place it into jam jars. However, wait a few minutes after turning the heat off, otherwise the peel will float to the top after the marmalade has been jarred.
Use whatever normal method you employ for sterilizing, heating and sealing jars. If using Ball jars, headroom should be between 1/4 and 1/2"
Allow to cool, and store in a dark place until ready to use. This marmalade will "keep" well for at least a year.

No comments: