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The future’s orange and nicely bitter

The future’s orange and nicely bitter

The future’s Orange, or at least it is for me. You can keep your Marmite, your jam, preserves and compots, just give me a marmalade with some proper flavour!

Mid to late February marks the end of the Seville oranges for another year and one of the essential ingredients in quality bitter marmalade. I have to say thanks to my wife for reminding me and ordering a kilo of quality Seville’s, something she perhaps now regrets as I set off with making marmalade over the weekend.

The Future’s Orange

I was following a recipe published on the Guardian Website by Felicity Cloake.

The ingredients are simple enough to get hold of…

  • Savile Oranges, One kilo,
  • One Lemon,
  • Soft brown sugar, One kilo
  • Granulated sugar, One kilo, and,
  • 2.5 litres of cold water.

I’m a huge fan of marmalade and often complain your run-of-the-mill brands lack depth of flavour, are too sweet and have the texture of lumpy custard. I’ve had a few quality jars in the past, but none of these compare to a proper homemade jar.

My first attempt, a year or so ago was from using a kit from Lakeland. Basically, add some sugar and water and boil it all up together. These have been very successful and have certainly been better flavour wise, but have still lacked that depth of flavour and bitterness I was craving.

The elusive taste

A colleague of mine, Neil Richards, gave me a jar of his homemade marmalade a couple of years ago. Neil’s an award winning marmalade specialist and has won many Gold merit awards for his jars, and it’s this flavour I was seeking; rich, dark, bitter, sweet with a good ratio of chunky peel to bite on. I also had a jar of homemade marmalade purchased from the Red Lion Hotel in Burnsall. Again this had the depth of flavour, although the set wasn’t quite right and it was a bit runny.

Inspired by this I set about making my own, I mean really how difficult can it be!

Genius takes time

It is quite a slow process with two sessions of about 2 hours plus, but it does fill the house with lovely aroma of zesty orange citrus. I won’t go into the whole process, you can read that in Felicity Cloake’s article, but it’s basically, squeeze and boil the oranges and water for two hours, leave to cool for a few hours. Then squeeze in the pectin, add the sugar and boil until it’s thick enough to set and bung it in some jars. Easy peezy lemon squeezy.

It does take quite some time to get to the set point. The recipe suggested 20-25 mins., in reality this was more like 60-75 mins. There’s quite a large volume of marmalade so it does take a while to get the boil up to the magic 105 degrees centigrade (something only achievable when some of the water has boiled off).

Unfortunately I’d started quite late in the afternoon so this delayed dinner somewhat and brought out some sour comments from my very understanding wife, but then you can’t rush genius can you.

Obviously the proof is in the eating. Does it have the depth and richness of flavour I was seeking? Well that still to be decided, but initial taste tests have been extremely positive. The other question is have I got the set right.

Perfection at last

Well at least one of the jars will be perfect. The first jar was slightly runny in the jar, but all others have set firm, but until they are opened I won’t quite know the level of genius I have achieved. If I can wait that long, next weekend I’ll be baking a nice sour dough loaf to go with the marmalade and then begin the true taste test.


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The future’s orange and nicely bitter

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