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Thursday 24 January 2013

Seville Orange Marmalade

I know that the shreds of orange peel have floated to the top of my jars, but I have taken the decision not to allow myself to spend even a moment worrying about it. Feel free to on my behalf.

I never thought I would become a marmalade maker. It doesn't seem like the sort of thing a man my age should be doing. In fact, I probably wouldn't even be doing it this year if it weren't for the fact that my mother in law really enjoyed the pink grapefruit stuff I made a while back when we opened a jar at Christmas, and well, you know... Anything to keep in the good books!

I feel the same about one of my other newly rediscovered passions. Knitting. They are both very much stay-at-home-to-avoid-the-cold, cozily antiquated activities. Not manly in any sense. Then I read this. (Well, actually I read about it somewhere else, but this was the first result that Google gave me just now...)

Amazing. I'm not alone. Ryan Gosling does it too.

Ryan Gosling.

Which got me wondering. Is he a marmalade maker as well? I mean, isn't that a lovely idea? Just the absolute loveliest.

Imagine. He could come over to my little house in Cardiff and we could admire the Sevilles I'd bought that morning (which if you're quick, and live in Cardiff, you'll still be able to get from the greengrocer on Albany Rd).

A Seville orange. There is not much else to say. It is sliced in two.

After I'd sliced and juiced the fruit ('Quite a dry orange, the Seville, isn't it, Ryan?'), he could de-pith and shred the rind finely ('It sure is. And full of pips.'), keeping the pulp, seeds and discarded pith to tie up in a square of muslin.

For the sake of clarity, I did this myself. Ryan Gosling is obviously more than capable of making marmalade, and probably would come over to do so if I asked him, but this particular batch is all my own work.

We'd laugh about the word 'pith bag' and, clutching warm mugs of freshly ground coffee, put the citrus rinds on a low heat to simmer slowly and soften.

The conversation would draw to a close, leading to a short silence...

Ryan: (looks at Mr. P with questioning eyes) Well, that's going to need to simmer for about two and a half hours. What are we going to do with ourselves for that long?

Mr. P: (knowing glance and deliberate pause) You know exactly what we're going to do, Ryan.

Clutching our yarn bags, we'd run to the sofa and armchair, snuggle up against the cushions and cast on stitches for matching cabled afghans in luxurious, hand spun alpaca. 

Of course, this perfect idyll would no doubt sour when Ryan realises that it's his turn to sterilise the jars, but still... *sigh* The beauty of yarn and needles. It makes me want to pack everything in, move to Amsterdam and become one of Stephen West's free-spirited dancer friends.


Meanwhile, since that is never going to happen, here's how to get Sevilley while the season lasts...


Seville Orange Marmalade

You will need:

 750g Seville oranges (see above if you're a local!)
1.5 kg granulated sugar
juice of 2 lemons

  1. Half the oranges. Juice them, and then scrape out the pulp, pips and as much white pith as possible. Reserve this pulpy mess, and tie it up in a piece of muslin. That there is your pith bag. Slice the orange rinds as thinly or thickly as you like. I think very thinly is better, but will allow you the freedom to choose.
  2. Put the juice, rinds, pith bag and 1.9 litres of water into a large (LARGE!) pan, and cook gently for a few hours until the rind is soft. The liquid will have reduced by about a third.
  3. Add the sugar and lemon juice. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then boil rapidly until the setting point (* see note) has been reached. This took about 20 minutes for me, though start checking at 10.
  4. Turn off the heat. Stir gently for a few minutes, to disperse any bubbles, and pour into hot, sterilised jars (* see note). Seal immediately with new lids. Use within 2 years.
NB: To check for setting point: when you start boiling the marmalade, put a saucer in the freezer to chill. After boiling for the required time, drop small dribbles of the marmalade onto the saucer and wait a moment. If, when you poke the puddle of marmalade with your finger the surface forms a wrinkle, the setting point has been reached.

I re-use jars. This recipe will fill 5-6 regular sized ones. To sterilise them, wash the jars (remove any labels) in hot soapy water, then rinse them. Place right side up on a baking sheet and dry them off in a 100°C oven. I leave them in there at that temperature until I'm ready to fill them. I also sterilise the lids by boiling them for 10 minutes. I buy my lids new. Get them from your local kitchen supply store.


  1. Mr. P, I've had my marmalade post ready to go for a couple weeks and will be posting it 31 January. Yours looks beautiful (even if the shreds have gone to the top). I read somewhere that if you let the marmalade sit for 10 or 15 minutes before putting it into the jars, the shreds will stay evenly dispersed. But I don't think it matters. Taste is what counts.

  2. Have you tried scraping the pith off after the peel is cooked? It's much easier that way, I think.

  3. Wow Ryan did really knit I'm starting to regret why I haven't touched my knitting materials over the years. Well anyway, all these marmalade in your blog makes me crave for some. Must make my way to buy oranges today. Got my eye on your next posts.

  4. Hi Mr. P! Just had to come back and let you know I just posted my marmalade. It's not Seville orange, but it's delicious! Your posset sounds wonderful - I must try it soon! (Though I don't need the calories!)


That's what he said.

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