It's mid-January on Lotus Island and I hustled to the supermarket to get the first of the Seville oranges that have just arrived. They are not a hot ticket item anymore so they often languish in the bin at the store and dry out. We hardy few who look forward to our bitter marmalade preservation every year mark the calendar at this new beginning. The Seville oranges here come from boulevard trees in Mesa Arizona, I am given to understand. Mary, Queen of Scots would have had her oranges shipped from Spain. My patient years ago, who was a distant Chivers relative gave me the three day recipe which I have faithfully followed. Since some of the people I care for do not care for marmalade with large peel pieces, I have dispensed with tradition and use the cuisinart to chop the peel more finely. One does what one has to. My oranges today are clean and plump. Sevilles are amongst the more ugly of the orange varieties so don't be dissuaded by their lack of beauty! Don't take offence at the bitterness of the fruit. Ugly and bitter will transform into sublime in the hands of the lover. Gentle patience is all that is necessary! Here is the recipe. I make a double batch.
Day 1, 8 large Seville oranges, 2 lemons. Halve these and remove the fruit. Leave the pith on the skin. Place the fruit in a muslin bag. Chop up the orange and lemon peel with the pith. Place all the material in a large container. Make sure your muslin bag doesn't leak or you'll have seeds in your marmalade. Add ten cups of water and soak everything overnight.
Day 2, Boil contents for 45 minutes. Let cool and rest for balance of the day.
Day 3, Take out the muslin bag and squeeze well. Add 1 and 1 quarter cups of sugar to each cup of your product. Boil for 45 minutes from the time of rapid boiling. Simmer longer if the marmalade does not jell well when dripping off the spoon. Fill jars
and seal when hot, in jars oven heated at 275 degrees.
The quality of the jelling in my opinion comes from the thickness of the pith. The marmalade darkens over the year but quality remains. No pectin needed: no citrate compounds: no treacle! Bon appetite!