Citrus season is in full swing. This week in our fruit and veg box, there are numerous oranges the size of a grapefruit. They are very sweet, super juicy and perfectly ripe. To use up some of these oranges and the last of the home-grown limes, I make orange and lime marmalade following Delia Smith’s method (it’s a 2 day job). I’ve reduced the sugar as unlike Seville oranges these oranges are not bitter and I have reduced the cooking time as I prefer my marmalade light and just set enough to spread easily on bread.
1 kg oranges
1 kg granulated sugar
2.5 litres water
Day 1: Clean the fruit then place in the preserving pan, add 2.5 litres of water and bring it all up to a gentle simmer. Place a double layer of foil over the top of the pan and fold the edges firmly over the rim. The aim is to very gently poach the fruit without any of the liquid evaporating. I found 2 hours to be sufficient. Remove the preserving pan from the heat and allow everything to get cool enough to handle.
Gently lift the fruit out of the liquid and put in a large colander placed over a bowl. Cut the oranges in half and scoop out all the inside flesh and pips as well into a medium-sized saucepan. Next do the same with the limes. Add 500ml of the poaching liquid to the fruit pulp, then place the saucepan over a medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, cut the halves of peel into quarters then cut them into chunky strips – the thickness is up to you – according to how you like your marmalade. Add these back into the preserving pan.
When the pulp is cool enough to handle, line a bowl with a large piece of muslin cloth. Pour the pulp mixture through then gather up the corners of the cloth and twist it into a ball. Using both hands, squeeze all of the pectin-rich juices into the preserving pan. Delia says ‘Don’t be faint-hearted here – squeeze like mad so that every last bit of stickiness is extracted’. Once you’ve done as much as you can, you are left only with the pithy membranes of the fruit, which can be discarded. Add the strained pectin to the preserving pan, loosely covered with a clean teacloth and leave it overnight.
Day 2: Start by sterilising the jars (4 x 500g jars).
Next put the sugar into a large tray then place it in a warm oven, gas mark 3/325°F (170°C), and allow it to warm gently for 10 minutes. Place some small flat plates in the freezer to test whether the marmalade has set later on.
When the sugar has warmed, add to the preserving pan and over a gentle heat, stir until the sugar has entirely dissolved. What you must not do is let the marmalade boil until all the sugar is completely dissolved otherwise it will caramelised the sugar.
Now turn the heat to high and wait until it is on a ‘rolling boil’ then set the timer for 15 minutes. To test if it has reached setting point, put a teaspoonful of marmalade on to a chilled plate. Allow it to cool for a minute back in the freezer, then push it with your little finger – if a crinkly skin forms, it has reached setting point. If not, continue boiling and do more testing at 5 minute intervals. When you are happy with the consistency, leave the marmalade to cool for 30 minutes before pouring into sterilised jars.