Everyone loves the peak preserving season, when
summer fruit seems to ripen faster than you can pick it, and the early autumn
harvest of beans, tomatoes and other vegetables means that another batch of
chutney is never far off the radar. But once those last fruits and vegetables
have all been used up with some final jams, jellies, pickles and preserves,
many of us put away the maslin pan and store any empty glass jars for another
year, thinking that there really aren’t any opportunities for home preserves
until the seasonal cycle begins again.
But in fact, nothing could be further from the truth, because January marks the
start of the marmalade season! Seville oranges are, of course, the most famous
type of orange used in marmalade production, so in today’s blog, we’ll take a
look at what makes Seville orange marmalade so special. So, dig out those
marmalade jars, because we’re confident that we can inspire you to make
yourself a batch of this delicious golden treat.
Why Seville Oranges?
If you’ve ever made marmalade with Seville oranges, you’ll know that their skin is incredibly thick and pithy, and that’s the real secret behind why these oranges, in particular, make the best marmalade. The skins of Seville oranges are naturally very rich in pectin, which is needed for a good set in any preserve. Often, we have to resort to increasing the pectin levels in our preserves by using jam sugar, adding pectin powder or adding a pectin-rich fruit into our jam mix. None of that is necessary when making marmalade with Seville oranges, as they have all the pectin needed in that special skin.
In addition to the all-important pectin, Seville oranges are bursting with juicy flavour and have a high sugar content; two more factors that go towards producing a sensational fruit for home preserving. Andalusia, the Spanish region in which Seville oranges are grown, is famous for its high temperatures and consistently good weather, making it ideal for growing all sorts of fruit and vegetable crops, especially citrus fruits.
Seville oranges are in season for just six short weeks, so it’s important to get those marmalade jars filled as soon as possible if you want to enjoy the true Seville marmalade flavour. Of course, you can make marmalade with other oranges and even with lemon, limes or grapefruit, but for the authentic taste of good old-fashioned marmalade, it has to be Seville oranges. Check out your local greengrocers for the best chance of finding some of these amazing fruits.
Tips For Filling Those Marmalade Jars
We’ve covered some great marmalade recipes in the past, so we thought that instead of adding another recipe in this blog post, we’d offer up a few tips to help you produce the very best marmalade imaginable.
Our first tip is to make sure that you buy the very best Seville oranges that you can find. Try to find a good greengrocer, rather than shopping in a supermarket, as the produce is likely to be much fresher. If you can find organic Seville oranges, so much the better, and you are likely to be able to really taste the difference!
Our next tip is to be confident with your shreds of peel - don’t try to shred it too fine because you’re worried that people won’t like larger shreds, and always add the amount of shred stated in the recipe; don’t be tempted to skimp or to add too much. Remember that these shreds are contributing pectin to the recipe, so it’s important to add the right quantity to get a good set on your marmalade.
If you’ve made marmalade in the past and you found that the shreds were a little tough in your finished jars of marmalade, then it’s likely that you didn’t cook them for long enough, prior to the stage where you add sugar. For a great taste and perfectly cooked orange shreds, try simmering the oranges for 3-4 hours the day before you want to make your marmalade. This should ensure that the peel is the right texture before you start the marmalade making process in earnest.
Perhaps the most important tip we can offer is not to overcook your marmalade. It can be tempting to keep on boiling until the mixture really thickens up, but in fact, it’s more important to concentrate on the temperature rather than the consistency of the marmalade whilst it’s in the pan. Once the marmalade has reached 104°C, take it off the heat and allow it to cool slightly, before pouring it into your clean, sterilised glass jars. During that short cooling period, the marmalade will continue to thicken up.
So...have we tempted you to try making some traditional marmalade this January, using those very special Seville oranges? If you do decide to make a batch of Seville marmalade, do send us some photos of your marmalade jars, as we love to see what you all make. Get in touch by Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.