There are a few things in life I don’t bother with. Organic oranges are one of them. I may be wrong, but my thinking is that the peel is probably too thick for pesticides to get through. My one exception with oranges is when I’m cooking or baking with them and the recipe calls for the zest or peel of an orange. Then I’ll splash out on fancy organic oranges.
The other month I really fancied some marmalade and looked for some in the shops – the cheapest I could find for a jar of organic marmalade was £3, which felt a bit extravagant for me. As we weren’t too far off of marmalade season I thought I would bide my time and make my own organic marmalade to make my money go further. And here we are – marmalade season! I picked up some organic oranges and managed to make 9 jars of organic marmalade for £8 – that’s less than 89p a jar! Take that fancy shop bought marmalade!
I thought I’d share my organic marmalade recipe with you. It’s loosely adapted from this BBC Good Food recipe and I’ve found this to be the easiest way of making marmalade – there is to peeling, adding things to muslin bags, or fretting with a knife whilst trying to remove pith from peel. It is rather time consuming though – it did take 3 hours – but it is a great way to while away a wet Saturday in winter. Plus you’ll have enough jars of amber goodness to keep you smiling of a morning for quite some time to come, which makes it all the worth while.
This organic marmalade recipe has a bright and zingy taste to it, that will really help wake you up in the morning!
1 kg of organic seville oranges
2kg of granulated sugar (if you want organic sugar then I'd recommend Billington's)
The juice of one and a half lemons (they don't have to be organic)
A large heavy bottomed pan (cast iron or a preserve pan)
Several jars and lids (roughly 8-10 jars)
Wash your oranges, then place them whole in a large pan alongside 4 pints of water and the lemon juice.
Making sure the oranges are fully submerged (I used a pyrex casserole dish lid to weigh them down – see above!), bring it all to the boil then simmer for 2 hours, until the peel is soft and easily pierced with a fork. I found a lot of water boiled off at this stage so I kept topping it up to keep a consistent level of water.
After two hours, carefully remove your oranges from the water (I used a spaghetti spoon) then leave to cool. Do not discard the water. At this point also set your oven to 170°C.
Once the oranges are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and using a spoon scoop out as much of the pith and stones from each of the orange halves as you can. As it’s boiled for so long it should scoop out really easily. Place the pith and stones in a bowl and keep to the side.
Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors cut all of the orange skins into very fine strips. You’ll find this to be really quick and easy as the skin is so soft and thin.
At this point you'll also want to sterilise your jars and lids (see this handy guide on how to sterilise jarst.
After you've sterilised your jars put all of the pith and stones in to the liquid, and boil for six minutes.
Then sieve the liquid into a bowl using a fine sieve. Using a spoon press down on the pith so that as much liquid is squeezed out as possible into the bowl, then discard the pith, and return the liquid to the pan.
Add the sugar to the liquid, and stir over a low heat until it’s all dissolved – this can take up to ten minutes. Once dissolved add your orange peel, stir well and bring to the boil.
Let it boil (a rolling boil with lots of bubbles) for 15 minutes. I found I had to stir my mixture to stop the orange peel from burning to the bottom of the pan – the mixture will spit at you when you do this so do take extreme care and stand as well back as you can!
Once 15 minutes is up, remove the pot from the heat and test to see if the marmalade has set. To do this, place a teaspoon of marmalade on a plate, and then place it in the fridge for a minute or two. If the marmalade is still runny after being in the fridge then return the pot to the heat and boil for another ten minutes, and repeat the test. Keep doing this – boiling for ten minutes then removing from the heat and testing – until it sets on the plate.
Once set you may need to skim any scum from the surface using a spoon. Leave your marmalade to settle for 20 minutes (not on the heat). Then remove your jars from the oven and whilst the marmalade is still warm spoon it into the warm jars. This is messy business and the marmalade and jars can be very hot so do take care. Then before sealing with the sterilised lids be sure to clean the rims of the jars with a clean cloth.
Stand back and admire your handiwork before enjoying a well deserved slice of marmalade on toast!