We always make marmalade at this time of year, mostly because we like to use blood oranges which are at their best right now. Their combination of sweet, sour and bitter flavours work just perfectly in marmalade.
This year I admit though it feels strange to be making large quantities for next winter when it is far from certain that we will need the volume!
Fortunately alongside Paddington bear I’m a big fan of the sweet sticky substance and I like to think we give as much care and attention to its preparation as he does. Nothing brings a ray of summer sunshine in to a winters day quite like a heaped teaspoon of this stuff.
I recommend you make a good sized batch as Paddington would. Once stored it keeps a very long time if sealed properly (3 years +) and most of the work is in the time waiting for it to cook.
1.5KG blood oranges (or seville oranges)
Juice and pips of 2 lemons
3.5 litres cold water
500g dark brown sugar
2KG caster sugar
100ml Grand Marnier (optional)
1 piece of muslin cloth 20cm2
Approx 10x 450g jars
A large stockpot (around 10L)
Cut the oranges and lemons in half. Squeeze the juice through a sieve and put it in to a large stockpot. Save all the seeds you can find and discard the squeezed lemons.
Chop the flesh of the blood oranges in to quarters and then slice each quarter in to slivers around 2mm thick. You will create a large pile of orange peel. You maybe tempted to remove some of the white pith or excess flesh, do not do it!. It all dissolves in to the marmalade and the white pith is an excellent source of pectin which is essential for the marmalade to set.
Put the orange peel in to the stockpot with the juice. Cover with 3.5L cold water and bring to a gentle simmer on the hob. Wrap all the seeds you can find in to the muslin cloth. Tie it up tightly and throw in to the pot.
Simmer the marmalade for 2 hours until the peel is very soft.
Start to clean your jars. Put them in the dishwasher or wash with hot soapy water, then place the jars and the lids on to a large baking tray. Place this tray in the oven heated to 110C. Keep them in the oven until you are ready to fill them.
Once the peel has softened, add all of the sugar and stir well. Turn up the heat a little so it bubbles nicely, but not so much that it boils over. If you are using the Grand marnier, you can add at this stage too.
Cook the marmalade for around an hour and a half until it starts to look like what I can only describe as “Magma”, see the picture below. If you have a digital thermometer the temperature should be 105C if you live close to sea level. For us in the mountains at 1100m the required temperature is 101C.
You can also test whether the marmalade is ready by placing a saucer in the freezer, then spooning a little of the marmalade on to it. Place the saucer in the fridge for a couple of mins and then run your finger through it. It should leave a clear gap where your finger has been and feel slightly sticky.
Once you are happy that the marmalade is cooked. Take it off the heat, discard the muslin bag and allow to cool for 5 mins before filling your jars. I use 2 glass pyrex jugs to help me in this process. One I keep in the pot and is messy. This fills a second clean jug which I then pour in to the jars.
When your jars are all filled, close the lid tightly and let them cool. It will be 24 hours before your marmalade is fully set.
Enjoy on toast, crumpets, hot cross buns or sandwiches kept under your hat.