Bitter and Sugary Seville Orange Marmalade
Sue showed up with Seville oranges from her dealer supplier. “Orange marmalade?” she said. Irresistible those oranges were. The thing is, Sue brought over the MOST ridiculous recipe I have ever read. A million steps involving things such as cleaning, juicing, separating seeds and membranes (to make pectin…. Really???), digging out the ‘pith,’ julienning, “milking” the seeds and membrane encased in cheesecloth (weird…), more juicing, sectioning of lemons both regular and Meyer lemons, cutting lemons into triangles….
It was a good thing that we divided the oranges between us for preparation and that we broke the work up into two days (one day for preparation and one day for cooking) otherwise I would have poked Sue’s eyes out – I swear. I do not personally know the author of that recipe but it was a little over the top (Sue agrees and she’s a perfectionist herself). The thing is the marmalade is extraordinary – as in perfect. Perfect visually and perfect in flavor and texture.
I hope the recipients of the few jars that we have appreciate the gifts given. This marmalade is a true labor of love.
Seville Orange Marmalade (SimplyRecipes.com)
3 pounds of Seville or bitter oranges (about 12 oranges)
4 cups of water
2 lemons – 1 regular and 1 Meyer
4 to 5 cups white granulated sugar
Scrub the oranges clean
Cut the oranges in half and juice them until you have 2 cups of juice. Set aside the juice. Save the seeds and the membranes and put them into a separate bowl. The seeds and membranes will be used for making pectin.
Take a clean, juiced orange half rind and use a spoon to dig out as much of the white pith as you can. The pith is bitter and will make the marmalade bitter so the more you get out, the better.
Once all the skins are clean use a very sharp paring knife to thinly julienne all of the peel. You can also use a potato peeler and peel the skin off the orange before you juice it. Either way you get your julienned orange peel, set the peel aside.
We did this on day one and the rest on day two but you can do it all in one day if you’re young and strong!
Juice the regular lemon and add this juice to the orange juice. Once again, save the seeds for the pectin. Cut the Meyer lemon into eighths, lengthwise. Remove the seeds and inner membranes (or most of the membranes). Cut the lemon segments crosswise into triangular pieces. Add the Meyer lemon seeds and membranes to the Seville orange seeds and membranes.
Put all of the citrus seeds and membranes into 4 layers of cheesecloth, tied up tightly with string, or into a muslin jelly bag.
First stage of cooking Place the orange and lemon juices into a large thick-bottomed pot – 5 or 6 quart. Add the julienned orange peels and Meyer lemon pieces and the water.
Place the cheesecloth or muslin bag containing the citrus seeds and pulp into the pot and secure the string at the other end to the pot handle. As the mixture cooks, the pectin from the seeds and membranes will be extracted into the mixture.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Let boil, uncovered for about 30-minutes, or until the peels are soft and cooked through. Remove from the heat.
Remove the pectin bag and place it in a bowl to let cool until it is comfortable to touch.
Measure the fruit and add sugar and pectin.
Pour out the mixture from the pot into a large measuring cup. Measure how much of the mixture you have. Depending on how hard of a boil and how long the cooking time, you could have anywhere from 4 to 5 cups. Return the mixture back to the pan.
Add to the mixture ¾ cup of sugar for every cup of mixture. Once the sugar has dissolved, taste the mixture. Add more sugar depending on how sweet you want your marmalade to be.
Once the pectin bag has cooled, squeeze it like play-doh to extract extra pectin. Grasp a tangerine size portion of the bag and squeeze, pulling the bag away from you with one hand as you hold firmly with the other hand. Work your way around the bag. “Milk” the pectin until you have released anywhere from 2 Tbsp to 4 Tbsp of pectin. Pectin has the consistency of sour cream. Add it to the orange mixture.
Second stage of cooking . . .
Heat the jelly mixture on medium high and bring it to a rapid boil stirring occasionally, making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Secure a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. The marmalade may take from 15 to 30 minutes to set. After about 10-minutes check it frequently.
There are two ways to test that the marmalade is ready to pour out into jars. One way is to check the thermometer for temperature - 220-222° F. Another way is to put a bit of the mixture onto a chilled plate and look for signs of it ‘wrinkling up.’ When you push it with your finger tip, it wrinkles up.
Do not overcook the marmalade or it will taste kind of caramelized and the orange peels might get tough.
I discussed sterilization previously. You can run the jars through a short cycle on the dishwasher. You can place them in a large pot (12 quarts of water) on top of a steaming rack so that they don’t touch the bottom of the pan where they might crack, and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes (this is what we do at Batch-33). Or you can rinse out the jars, dry them, and place them without lids in a 200° F oven for 10 minutes.
As the time approaches for the marmalade to be done, boil some water in a tea pot and pour water over the jar lids which should be in a bowl.
Once the marmalade has reached 220-222° remove the marmalade pot from the stove. Ladle the marmalade into the jars, using a wide mouthed funnel, leaving ¼ inch head space at the top of the jars. Wipe the rim clean with a clean, wet, paper towel. Place the lid on the jar but don’t close tightly, leave it a little loose.
Place the jars back on the rack in the pot with the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes to help get a better seal and to help prevent mold. Take the jars out of the water bath (using a special tool – tongs with rubber on one end) and let the jars sit and cool. You will hear a popping sound as a vacuum seal is created.
Give away judiciously. Eat and enjoy. Would be delicious on a sourdough baguette or scones with clotted cream (or without). We cracked open a jar and ate it on vanilla ice cream . . .
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