I am normally one for promoting produce local to the South West in an attempt to reduce food miles, and promote the region’s assiduous farmers, growers and producers. However, at this time of year, in search of seasonal gems, we need to look a little further afield.
With only a narrow seasonal window – for around 3 weeks at the end of January – the Seville orange is a vibrant relief to the robust, hardy fruit and veg on offer during these winter months. Grown nearly exclusively in the sunnier climes of the southern province (funnily enough) of Seville, this tart variety of orange is fundamental to producing one of Britain’s breakfast time treats – Marmalade.
Traditionally using quinces, marmalade has been a staple on our breakfast table since the 14th century, and later went on to be the perfect way to preserving a variety of citrus based fruits such as lemons, limes and grapefruits. Distinct from jam with the addition of the fruit’s peel, the pectin levels in such citrus fruits – especially Seville oranges – is ideal in achieve a perfect set.
Unfortunately in recent years marmalade has seen a significant demise, as the popularity of less traditional British spreads have started to trend. In an attempt to promote this delicious British classic, my Orange and Apricot Marmalade shows how simple and satisfying it is to produce your own sunup spread with just 5 staple ingredients. With its nostalgic flavours and amber glow, there is nothing like the home-made variety. All it takes is a little patience and a couple of empty jars to bottle these sunshine flavours sure to carry you well into British summertime!
- 500g Seville Oranges
- 200g Dried Apricots
- 1.4liters Water
- 1kg Granulated sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Wash the oranges well before cutting in half. Using a spoon, scoop the flesh, pips and juice of the oranges into a bowl leaving the pith behind. Put the orange skins to one side.
- Blend the flesh, pips and juice until smooth, before passing the pulp through a fine sieve into a large heavy-bottomed pan.
- Take the orange skins, and once again using a spoon, scrape out the remaining pith, and slice the skins into thin strips. Put the rind, along with the roughly chopped apricots into the pan with the pulp. Add the water and lemon juice, and bring the liquid to the boil.
- Once it has reached boiling point, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the rind has become very soft, and the liquid has reduced by about half.
- During this time, sterilise your jar using boiling water, or popping them in the dishwasher – ensure that the jars are then thoroughly dried, then put in the fridge to cool (this helps with the setting process when it comes to fill the jars with the marmalade).
- At this point, add the sugar and stir gently until it has completely dissolved. Allow to boil for at least 10 minutes – during this time remove any froth that sits on the top of the liquid. Test the consistency of the marmalade by spooning a little onto a cold plate and placing in the fridge – allow to cool for 15 minutes before testing. Swipe your finger through the marmalade – if it hold its shape the jam is at setting consistency.
- Take your marmalade off the heat and allow to cool. Carefully pour the marmalade into the chilled jars and fasten tightly. Allow to set overnight before enjoying with generous amounts of butter on crusty, golden toast!
- After stage 6: If the marmalade’s consistency is still too loose, simply return the pan to the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes and repeat the process. If after two attempts to thicken the marmalade with no avail, add a couple of tablespoons of sugar, allowing to dissolve in between additions.