Oxford Marmalade

Plan to make your marmalade at the beginning of the Seville orange season (around January 15) to capture the oranges at the height of freshness. 

This recipe is simple to up-size or reduce: it’s equal parts oranges, lemons, water and sugar. If you increase the recipe, though, just make sure you have a pot that’s big enough that the oranges are mostly lying flat on the bottom of the pot.  

  • 2 kg Seville oranges (about 12)
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 litres water
  • 2 kg granulated sugar

Step 1: Cooking the Oranges

Weigh the oranges to make sure you have the proper amount, then wash the lemons and  oranges. Place the whole oranges and one of the lemons into a large pot and add the water.

Bring the fruit to the boil, then simmer with a lid on for about an hour, or until you can pierce the fruit easily with a skewer.

Using tongs, transfer the fruit to a colander over a bowl. Pour the liquid into a second bowl. Set both bowls aside to cool. 

Stage 2: Preparing the fruit

Cut the oranges and lemon into quarters and scoop out the pulp. Separate out the seeds and pith and put them in a bowl. Put the remaining fruit pulp into a second bowl. For the lemon, keep the pulp, seeds and pith and throw out the lemon peel.

Place the seeds and pith in the centre of a large piece of cheesecloth and tie with a string.

Slice the quarters of each orange rind into two, stack the two pieces on top of each other, then slice them width-wise into thin strips, about ¼ inch wide. 

By the end of this process, you will end up with three bowls: a bowl of orange pulp, a cheesecloth bag of seeds and pith set in a second bowl, and a bowl of sliced peel.

Step 3: Making the Marmalade 

Put jars in a canning kettle, bring to a boil and sterilize for 10 minutes.

Put three saucers into the freezer for later to test to see if the marmalade is done.

Put the reserved liquid and the cheesecloth bag of seeds and pith into a large pot and bring to the boil. Simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes and remove any scum that arises.

While that’s cooking, put the sugar into a roasting pan and put it in the oven at its lowest setting (170 F) with the oven door cracked open for about ten minutes.

Remove the cheesecloth bag from the pot and place in a colander over a bowl to cool.

Add the warmed sugar to the pot and stir over a medium low heat until completely dissolved and transparent.

Meanwhile, squeeze out the pectin-rich juice from the cooled cheesecloth bag and add it to the pot. If the bag is still hot, put on a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands from the heat. Discard the contents in the cheesecloth bag.

Now, add the fruit pulp and the chopped peel to the pot and increase the heat to maximum. Do not leave the pot unattended at this stage.

Bring marmalade to a rolling boil until set point is reached, anywhere from 20-40 minutes.

Step 4: Testing to See if the Marmalade is Cooked

  • Cook the marmalade until a thermometer registers 105C / 220F.
  • Spoon a teaspoon of the boiling marmalade on to a chilled saucer and place in the fridge for 1-2 minutes. The marmalade is ready if it wrinkles when you push it with your fingertip.

Step 5: Canning the marmalade

Remove the pan from the heat, skim off any remaining scum, add a pat of cold butter and stir it around over the surface of the marmalade to help prevent a skin from forming.

Allow the marmalade to rest for 20 minutes to prevent the peel from rising to the surface when canning it. Stir occasionally.

Stir marmalade one last time before canning, then fill the hot jars ¼ inch from the rim and place in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. 

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