Saturday, February 5, 2011

Seville Orange Marmalade - The Definitive Guide

 After 6 batches, I think I have this Seville Marmalade business down to a fine art.  I have made nearly 50 glasses of this stuff, and I have to say it beats any commercial Seville marmalade I've ever eaten.  I took the best from David Lebovitz's recipe, and the best from the Canadian Living recipe, and rather than tell you why one is better than another, I just thought I'd show you my Shim Farm take on things.

Here's what I did:
Take 1 kilogram Sevilles (in this case 9 oranges), and slice them along their equator.  Do the same thing to one Navel orange, and one lemon.  (I didn't have any lemons today, so let's just pretend...)
I found it was easiest to squeeze each half thoroughly, and then use my paring knife to remove any stubborn, deep-seated pips.  You don't want to go digging in with your fingernails.  Your cuticles will not thank you at the end of the day.  Just trust me and use a pointy knife, okay?
 Then I cut each half in half again...
 ...and thinly slice each peel.
If you start with your pot in the kitchen sink, you'll make less of a mess.  But you knew that already, didn't you?
 When all the oranges are sliced, drain the pits over the pot.  You need all that good juice...
 ...and add 8 cups of water to the pot.
Your pits contain the pectin needed to set the marmalade.  You can tell the seeds are sort of slimy and gelatinous.  That's the pectin and we want it!  Wash a muslin cloth, and tie up the pits.
 Be sure to use your best sailor's knot, because if this baby busts open, you're in for a pit hunt.

Trim the excess fabric using your trusty kitchen shears...

 ...and place the pits into your pot.
Bring oranges to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.  The thinner you've sliced the peels, the faster they will cook.

(I don't know where I picked up this long-handled stirrer, but my hands thank me when I cook a big batch of spaghetti sauce, or boil up a big vat of jam or marmalade, because you're well out of the reach of splatters.  I've never seen one like it in stores, and all I know about it is that it's oak and made in Italy.)
 I let my mixture cook about 40 minutes, until it had thickened a bit, and then let it cool for several hours.

Then I removed the pits and s-q-u-e-e-z-e-d all that wonderful pectin into the marmalade.  
Add seven cups granulated sugar to the oranges, and bring everything to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Don't even let the marmalade sit on the burner for a minute without full attention.  If you're called away from the stove, by all means remove it from the heat and attend to whoever is needy/whining/calling.

Stir until your arm falls off.

Kidding, but really, I stirred and stirred and stirred for at least 40 minutes until I reached the gelling point.  My burner isn't quite at maximum heat, but it's close.  At some point, the mixture becomes clearer and there are less little, teeny-tiny bubbles, and at this point you'd test for your gelling point.  Put a small plate into the freezer, put a teaspoon of marmalade on it, and return it to the freezer.  The marmalade should not run, but rather hold it's shape and wrinkle when you touch the edges.  Keep testing until you've got this effect, or you'll end up with runny marmalade.  That would be Not Good.

Towards the last batch, I was able to tell by the way the marmalade acted (it gets harder to stir because it gets thicker and there's more resistance) and the bubbles are bigger and "bubblier".  I know you're impressed with my thorough description (bubbles are bubblier you ask?), but think of lava in the volcano and you're on the right track.  Just trust me on this.  I'm wearing an oven mitt in the above photo for a reason .
 Prepare your 250 mL jars in boiling water...
 ...and put your lids in hot water to soften the sealing compound.

Fill your jars with hot marmalade, leaving a 1/4" head space.
 Fasten your lids and rings until fingertip tight.  That's to say, just tighten them, don't give them a super-torque.

Process for 10 minutes in your water bath.

This recipe made enough for 9 - 250 mL jars.  Yes, there are only 8 in the pot above, and that's what I planned for, but we ended up with a bonus jar.  If you're like me and have canned before, you know that all these canning recipes are mostly best guesses when it comes to the finished quantity.  I always have a jar or two ready to sterilize, because that's the nature of the beast.  I made this same recipe, using the same amounts, and the last batch made 8.  Go figure.  It was a gift from the Seville orange Gods.

That's it folks - that's ALL there is to it!  Simple, easy, and oh-so-good Seville Orange Marmalade.


Shepherd's Loft said...

I don't think I'll make any but it looks "wonderful good" and your post and photos are super! I prefer eating dear little Clementines. I never heard of Sevilles until you pointed them out to me here.

Shim Farm said...

Thanks for your compliment, Linda! Oh, but you are missing out on something great! They're prohibitively bitter, but somehow the whole mixture of bitter/sugar/orange works. I just had some spread on toasted baguette, and it's really starting to grow on me. I'm planning on making another batch today. Hope you're doing well and not too snowed in. We had another 4" overnight. Time to shovel the walk, again!

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