A spoonful of sunshine for cold January days - Marmalade making 2017

Making marmalade is one of my favourite winter rituals and I look forward to the arrival of Seville and blood oranges in the shops with excitement. There is something so uplifting about those little orange spheres, heavy with juice, smelling of the long hot days of Southern Europe, piercing our grey damp January days with the promise of sunshine. 

This year I found an untapped stash of Sicilian blood oranges hidden under various piles of tangerines and grapefruits in Aldi and bought up several bags, eager to try my hand at blood orange marmalade. 

I used a recipe from The Modern Preserver, a beautiful book that I got as a Christmas present. If you would like to make blood orange marmalade yourself, you will need the following to make approximately 5-6 jars (normal jam jar size):

  • 2.5kg blood oranges
  • 250ml water
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 750g preserving sugar
  • 5-6 sterilised jars (to sterilise I wash thoroughly with hot soapy water, then put both jars and lids in the oven for 20 minutes at 120 ยฐ C)

1. Start by cutting 5 of the blood oranges into quarters

2. Next peel the quartered oranges, and slice the peel from the quarters into thin slices, around 2mm thick. 

3. Cut the flesh from the quartered oranges into small pieces and put to one side. 

4. Next, peel the remainder of the oranges, discarding the peel. 

5. After peeling the oranges, remove as much of the pith from the oranges as you can too. I found it easiest to peel the pith off by hand. Then cut the orange flesh up and add it to the flesh from the 5 quartered oranges. 

6. Next, put all of the cut up orange flesh into a large saucepan and add the water. Boil for about 10 minutes. 

7. Then add the lemon juice and sugar and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. 

8. In a separate pan, cover the peel slices from the 5 quartered oranges with boiling water and simmer for 4 minutes, then drain and add the slices to the marmalade mixture. Boil the mixture for around 30-40 minutes or until it starts to make large popping bubbles. 

9. Check the marmalade is ready by using the "wrinkle test": pop a saucer in the freezer for a few minutes, then drop a blob of marmalade onto it. Put into the fridge for a minute and then test it by pushing your finger into it. If it wrinkles gently it is soft set and ready to be jarred; for a firmer set, continue to boil until you're happy with it. 

10. Ladle the marmalade into the sterilised jars and seal. It will be ready to eat in a month or so (if you can wait that long!) and will keep unopened for 6-8 months. Perfect on toast, in cakes and on porridge, and is also very lovely stirred into fresh lemonade or vodka cocktails. 

Have you made marmalade this year? What are your favourite recipes?

Mary x