A calming January marmalade-making session is a good antidote to the mayhem of Christmas and New Year. Put the radio on, get peeling, slicing and simmering, and fill your house with the distinctive bittersweet aroma.
Riverford buys Seville oranges from Ave Maria Farm in Mairena del Alcor near Seville, which is run by Amadora and her two daughters. They produce wonderfully gnarly, knobbly, thick-skinned fruit with the incredible aroma and unusually high pectin content that make Seville oranges so valued.
There have been orange groves on their 60-hectare farm since 1867 and they were the first orange farm to be awarded organic status in Andalucia. Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson visited them in 2011 and was hugely impressed by the crops and wildlife on the farm, not to mention the energy and orange-devotion of Amadora and her family.
Make your own Seville orange marmalade
This is Riverford's own much-loved recipe. You could substitute in a few glorious blood oranges to get a rich, caramel-coloured preserve, or use incredibly perfumed bergamot lemons to really crank up the aromatics.
Watch Guy make it (and learn from his mistakes!) in this video:
• Make sure the pan is big enough – if it’s too full, it will boil over, and all that sugar will be a nightmare to clean off your cooker
• When you are dissolving the sugar, don’t heat it too vigorously as it will catch on the bottom and you will end up with burnt marmalade
• Don’t boil it too for long; if you go past the setting point you will end up with jars of concrete
• Skim off any scum before potting up to get a clearer set
• Let the marmalade stand for 15 mins before jarring – this will stop the fruit from settling at the bottom of the jar
Makes 6 jars, prep 30 mins, cook 3 hrs
1.5kg Seville oranges
2.5 litres cold water
approx. 2kg granulated sugar
a large pan
screw top lids or wax discs
1. With a sharp knife, peel the skin from the oranges and lemons, leaving as much white pith on the fruit as possible. Chop the peel into 3mm strips and put in a large pan.
2. Line a large bowl with a piece of muslin, leaving plenty to overhang the sides of the bowl. Cut the oranges and lemons in half. With your hands, squeeze the juice from the fruit over the bowl, dropping the leftover squeezed fruit (pith, pips and flesh) into the muslin.
3. Lift the muslin out of the bowl, gather the sides and squeeze any remaining juice into the bowl. Tie the muslin together with string to keep the fruit in and form a bag.
4. Place the muslin bag in the saucepan with the peel. Add the squeezed fruit juice and 2.5 litres cold water to the pan.
5. Heat until boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours, until the peel is tender. Put a few saucers in the fridge to chill.
6. Remove the muslin bag and squeeze all the sticky juice from the bag into the pan. An easy way to do this is to put the bag in a colander and use a spoon to press it out.
7. Measure the contents of the pan in a jug (include the shreds and liquid). Return to the pan and add 450g sugar for every 500ml liquid.
8. Gently heat for 15 minutes, until the sugar crystals have dissolved. Increase the heat and boil rapidly for 15 minutes.
9. If you have a sugar thermometer, the setting point for marmalade is 105°C. To check the set without one, put 1 tsp on a cold saucer and push it with the back of a spoon. If it wrinkles, you have reached setting point. If it doesn’t, keep boiling and re-test every 5 mins. Turn off the heat as soon as you reach setting point.
10. Skim any scum from the surface. Leave the mixture to stand for 15 minutes. Stir gently, then carefully spoon into warmed sterilised jars (use a jam funnel if you have one). If using screw top lids, put the lids on while the marmalade is still hot and turn upside down for 5 minutes to sterilise the lids (or boil the lids for a few minutes and leave to dry before use). If using cellophane, put a wax disc on the marmalade while warm, then seal with cellophane and an elastic band.