Mrs Everybody's marmalade looks like sunshine in a jar!

Become a Master Marmalade Maker

As Mrs Everybody wakes up each morning, nothing makes her get out of bed as quickly, as the thought of homemade marmalade on toast and a cup of tea – Well that is, apart from the naughty cat, fantastic bird song, or realising she hasn’t put out the recycling bin for the collection! We are not talking of just any marmalade you understand, but home made marmalade from Seville oranges.

A glimpse of Mrs everybody's marmalade stock.

A glimpse of Mrs Everybody’s marmalade stock.

How do you make this delectable concoction? Mrs Everybody has tried two methods, the first where the oranges are prepared before the process begins and the second, the whole orange method. Mrs Everybody has a preference for the first method and that is what she is sharing here.

As you can’t all come over here for breakfast, Mrs Everybody is going to tell you how she makes her irresistible marmalade so you can make your own.

What is marmalade? It is a jam made from the whole orange – excluding the pips, white pith and membranes.

Shopping List for Marmalade Makers

3kg Seville oranges

3 lemons

3kg sugar – white sugars gives a lighter coloured marmalade and brown a darker version

A bottle of Certo (liquid pectin) on stand by! Hopefully you won’t need it.

Some soap nuts to make your natural washing up and cleaning liquid!

Equipment

If you going to make this all in one batch, you will need a large saucepan with a heavy base. My saucepan has a 10L capacity.

Long handle wooden stiring spoon

A ladle or jug (not of plastic)

Thermometer

Glass jars with lids and a baking tray to stand them on. I use about 8 x 250ml jars.

A jam funnel is also helpful.

Preparing the Seville Oranges for Marmalade Making

Wash the oranges. I use a splash of soapnut liquid in my washing water.  I use the soap nuts to wash the jars and for clearing up too (more about that  later on)

A picture of Seville oranges being washed in soap nut liquid.

Make you own soap nut liquid for washing fruit and veg. Add a splash to the washing water.

Remove the outer layer of the skin of the orange, the zest. So essentially you are ‘peeling’ just the very outside orange coloured layer of the skin off as if you were peeling an apple. Leave the yellow white under layer of the skin on the orange. I use a curved paring knife others might use a vegetable parer. It is quite hard work! You should be left with whole fruits which are yellowy white where you have left the under layer of skin on the orange.

A photo showing all the mains stages of preparation for Seville orange marmalade.

The zest has been peeled off the oranges, cut into thin slices then placed in the brown bowl. The oranges are juiced over the brown bowl and a sieve catches the pips. The pips will be put in a muslin bag. The contents of the brown bowl will become your marmalade and the bag of pips will be removed near the end before the sugar is added. The empty skins in the white bowl will be discarded.

Slice the orange zest into thin slices and place in a large bowl.

Place a colander or sieve over the bowl. Cut the oranges and lemons in half and juice them over the bowl so that the sieve catches any pips and tough membrane. I use a hand held wooden juicer which does the job well.  So now you have a bowl containing orange zest and the citrus juice. Separately, in the sieve, is the pith and tough membrane. You are finished with the empty orange and lemon shells.

A photo of the muslin bag containing the pips soaking in the orange zest and juice.

Soak the bag of pips in the bowl with the juice and zest overnight. It allows the pectines to leach out from the pips giving the marmalade a good set.

 

Place the contents of the sieve in a muslin bag and lay it in the juice and zest overnight.  The natural pectins which help to set the marmalade will leach out of the pips into the juice.

Cooking the Marmalade

Tie the bag of pips in the pan, making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom to prevent it sticking and burning. Add the contents of the bowl to the pan. I add water to make the mixture up to 5L.

Turn up the heat to a moderate temperature and cook until the zest is soft. It can take 1-2 hours.

Start by softening the peel and extracting more pectin from the bag of pips.

Start by softening the peel and extracting more pectin from the bag of pips.

Remove the bag of pips, then add the the sugar. Keep the heat low until all the sugar has completely dissolved. Then raise the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Stir from time to time.

At this point I put my jam jars which I have previous washed with my home made soapnut liquid on the baking tray in the oven to sterilize the jars. The oven is set at 275F or 130C for 20 minutes.  I pour boiling water over the lids.

When you can no longer ‘stir away the boil’ and the mixture has turned opaque, then the marmalade mixture is  nearly the correct temperature. There is an optimal temperature  with which the lemon and any pectin from the pips will produce the gel and the marmalade is nearly there.

Test with a thermometer. The mixture should reach a temperature of 105C or 220F for a few minutes. Don’t over cook the marmalade! You can test for setting with the ‘flake test’ or the cold saucer test. The marmalade only takes on its true gel form once it has cooled and set.

With my last batch my cooker couldn’t quite raise the pan to the required temperature so added my bottle of Certo to get a good set. Turn the heat off and let the marmalade cool down a bit.

Putting the Marmalade in Jars

Take the jars out of the oven keeping them on the baking tray for spillage containment and for easy handling. Dry the lids.

Slowly fill each jar up to the neck with the aid of the ladle or jug and jam funnel, being sure to include a fair portion of the zest. Place the lids loosely on the jars.

When the marmalade has cooled a bit, tighten the lids. I invert the jars during the remaining period of cooling so that the zest is more evenly distributed.

Clearing Up

Ah – now just the washing up to do. Make your natural washing up liquid if you haven’t done so already.

Make your soapnut liquid by standing a handful of soapnuts in a bowl. Cover them in luke warm or cold water. Ideally leave the soapnuts to stand in the bowl for a few hours and hey presto – there is your washing up liquid.
It will clean your jars before they are sterilized and can be used to clear up afterwards. I always have some soap nut washing and cleaning liquid made up for spontaneous rubber glove free washing up!

Once you have used up your soapnut liquid – make some more by covering the soap nuts again in water. I repeat the process until finally I squeeze the soap nuts to force the very last of the soap out of them before composting the soap nut shells. I use the soapnut liquid for washing up, surfaces, windows, vehicles and anything shiny.

If you wash and sterilized your jam jars in the dishwasher, then place 3-5 soapnuts inside the cutlery tray. It will leave the glassware free of taints and sparkling clean. Plus it doesn’t put artificial chemicals into the atmosphere inside your home.

Use a dish cloth containing some soap nut washing up liquid to clean the outside of the jars too once they have cooled.

The Seville Orange Season

The Seville oranges will only be in season for a few more weeks so that gives you some time to stock up your larder.  The season typically lasts from December to February, although sometimes you can still get them in March. Our soap nuts are always available and you can wash and clean with them any time in the year!

Mrs Everybody's marmalade looks like sunshine in a jar!

Mrs Everybody’s marmalade. Backlit, it looks like sunshine in a jar!

Mrs Everybody will try to recover her bitter, cloudy batch made from the whole oranges. Her rescue plan is to put all the bitter marmalade back in a pan and heat it, remove all the zest, and add honey to taste. Then boil it briefly and put it back in the washed and heated jars. Mrs Everybody is wishing herself “Good Luck!”

 

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