If there’s one recipe that you’d expect to find here at The Marmalade Teapot, it’d be marmalade right? Well you’d be wrong. I was actually shocked myself to discover that in nearly 4 years of blogging, I had never actually posted up my namesake recipe! Now, this is either poor blogging form on my part or it was a calculated manoeuvre to save it for something special… I’ll let you decide which. It all worked out in the end though, as now I actually do have something special to post for my 100th recipe! That’s right, it may have taken me nearly 4 years (I’m a busy gal) but still, that’s pretty epic right? 100 recipes! That’s a whole lot of flour, sugar, eggs & adjectives (I wonder just how many times I’ve used the word ‘moist’ here?).
It’s still amazing to hear all of your lovely message both here & on my socials, & I still get mega excited to see people browsing the site, even more so to see what my most popular recipes are (Spelt Crumpets is the big winner by the way). When I look back in the archives at some of my older post though, I can’t help but cringe a little, the writing, the photography, damn (it’s like looking back at my outfit choices as a teenager)! Whilst I do try & go back to update some of the crappier photos over time (I did alright with by old purple Nikon Coolpix though!) it’s all me, so it’s not going to change. My baking has changes though, it’s been a journey as I’ve learned new skills, gained experience & discovered exactly what it is that I like to do the most. I like to think that the same can be said about my blogging, I’ve found my voice, a style that I’m happy with & enjoy writing in. There’s also no denying that that my food photography has improved somewhat since the beginning. I’d like to say a massive thank you to all of you who read, occasionally check in from time to time, follow me, sign up to the blog or even if you simply ended up here from a random Google search (welcome!). May we all overindulge together.
Let’s start with the bitter-sweet elixir that is of course, marmalade. The queen of toast, a national institution, present at British breakfasts up & down the country. Marmalade has played a key role on our breakfast tables since the 17th century. Us Brits love marmalade so much that it’s even been to the Antarctic & up Mount Everest. It’s also good enough for James Bond, Paddington Bear & The Queen (also known as the creme de la creme of Brits, fictional or not). Tales & myths of this preserves origins include that of a Spanish ship carrying a haul of Seville oranges getting into trouble off the shore of Dundee during a storm. The oranges were washed ashore & sold off cheaply at auction to a local merchant names James Keiller. Keiller’s wife quickly transformed the rotting fruit into a sweet, tangy preserve. The couple became the first to establish a marmalade factory & begin commercial production of the preserve in the UK. However, marmalade can actually be traced back far further in history, even as far back as the Greeks & Romans who would preserve fruits & peels in honey.
Marmalade was then, and still is, a rather luxury product. When you factor in the time it takes to make it, that small batch cooking produces a superior tasting marmalade & the incredibly short six-week season of the coveted Seville orange traditionally used to make it, you can understand why. The knobbly-skinned Spanish Seville orange has been cherished by marmalade makers for centuries owing to it’s high pectin content (this is the wonderfully gloopy gelling agent that helps jams & marmalades to set) & it’s undeniably zesty, bitter taste. It’s the high temperatures of the region that provide the oranges with a good sugar content & a concentrated, strong flavour.
Unfortunately though it’s not for everyone, marmalade is very much like Marmite, you either love it or loathe it. Worryingly, marmalade is increasingly the preserve of the older generation (not sure it over thirty counts?) with the youngsters, hipsters & millennials raised in a world of sugary cereals, smoothies & peanut butter, snubbing our beloved marmalade. Apparently around 80% of the UK’s marmalade is now bought by consumers over the age of 45 (come on kids?!).
I think we can all save a little space on the breakfast table alongside our Earl Grey for this bitter-sweet classic. I could (& would) quite happily eat marmalade on toast for any given meal of the day. Thick cut, thin cut, light, dark, vintage or even laced with whisky, I’ll take it & enjoy it with a great sense of joy. It’s the flavourful, intensely orange cheer that’s unmatched in any other preserve. I challenge you to hold back even the faintest of smiles when you tuck into it, thickly slathered onto your hot, golden toast first thing in the morning. Now I’m not saying that we should all don duffle coats & stow marmalade sandwiches under our hats but I am here to sing the praises of good old marmalade & even start a one woman marmalade revolution if necessary.
SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE
(makes approx 8-10 jars, easily halved)
- 2kg seville oranges
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 3 1/2 litres of water
- 4 kg granulated sugar
Method (see pictures below for a short step-by-step):
- Before beginning, place a small saucer into the freezer to chill
- Start by juicing the oranges & lemons
- Place the orange juice & lemon juice, along with all of the water into a maslin pan or a large heavy bottomed saucepan
- Next, slice each orange in half & use a spoon to scoop the flesh, pith & pips out, leaving behind the skins
- Place all of the scooped out flesh, pith & pips into the centre of a piece of maslin cloth (or you can use a clean dishcloth) & secure them inside by tying a knot using the corners
- Place the muslin cloth into the pan & secure it to the handle of the pan so that you can easily remove it later
- Next, take the peel of the oranges & slice into either thick or thin strips, depending on how you like your shred, & add it to the pan
- Bring the pan to a boil over a high heat before reducing it to a simmer (medium heat) & leave it to simmer away for 2 hours or until the strips of peel have all softened
- After 2 hours, take off of the heat & remove the muslin cloth before setting it aside to cool
- Once it has cooled enough to handle, use your hands to squeeze the orange flesh inside of the maslin & extract as much of the gooey pectin that seeps through as you can, adding it all back into the pan
- Now, add the sugar to the pan & stir over a low heat until all of the sugar has dissolved
- Bring the mixture up to a fast boil & continue to boil for 30 – 40 minutes
- After 30 minutes, test the marmalade to see if it’s reached setting point by placing a small drop onto the chilled saucer from the freezer
- Push your finger through the marmalade & if the surface wrinkles then it’s done, if it doesn’t give it another 10 minutes & test again
- When it’s ready, take the marmalade off the heat & leave it to stand for 20 minutes
- After 20 minutes, pot up into clean, sterilised jars
- Turn the jars upside down & leave them to cool for 1 hour before turning them upright & leaving to fully cool
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