Recipe of the month: Preserve some sunshine

January 29 2021
Recipe of the month: Preserve some sunshine

Recipe of the Month, with Ann Murray

THIS time of the year can be a bit dreary, but in January and February the Seville marmalade oranges are in season. Just the colour of them makes me feel brighter!

Marmalade can be made out of all sorts of citrus fruits and then it can be used in all sorts of recipes, with gammon, duck or even in Chinese pork. It can feature in an orange souffle, pudding or tart.

But if you’re cooking with marmalade it has to be the really good stuff - and that means homemade.

It’s time-consuming, so hunker down and allow yourself a whole morning or afternoon, with lots of cups of tea. After all with all the various blooming lockdowns going on, time is something that a lot of us do have.

Basic Recipe for Modern Marmalade

Many different types of citrus fruits can be used for marmalade making, but the basic method is always the same. This is my adaptation of the traditional method with a few little shortcuts.

Makes about 7 ½ lb (3 kg)


  • Seville oranges – 1kg 350g (3lb) OR citrus fruit mix of sweet or Seville oranges, lemons or limes, grapefruit or tangerines – 1kg 350g (3lb) (eg about 2 sweet oranges, 2 lemons, 2 Ruby grapefruit).

  • Extra lemons – 2

  • Granulated sugar – 2.7 kg (6lbs)

  • Water – 1.6 litres (3 pints) (or 1.45 litres if making the Buck’s Fizz variation – see Cook’s Tips)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Scrub the citrus fruit being used with sodium bicarbonate.

  2. Halve the fruit and squeeze the juice into a medium saucepan.

  3. Bring the pips and juice to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.

  4. After 15 minutes pass through a sieve to remove the pips. Make sure you scrape the sieve carefully to get all the sticky residue which contains the pectin necessary for setting. Add this to the juice and put to one side. Bin the pips.

  5. Meanwhile cut the halved fruit again into quarters and put into a large saucepan or preserving pan.

  6. Add 3 pints (1.5 litres) of water. Bring to the boil and then cook on a medium heat for about an hour until the peel is really soft.

  7. Allow to cool, then finely slice the soft peel.

  8. Whilst slicing, put the sugar to warm for about 10 minutes either in a low oven, or on top of the oven, if hot.

  9. Put the warmed sugar, sliced peel and strained pip mixture into the preserving or large pan.

  10. Over a medium heat, and stirring from time to time with a flat-edged wooden spatula, continue to heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.

  11. Turn up the heat and bring to a fast boil until setting point is reached. Put a small plate in the freezer at this point to test for a set later.

  12. Once it has reached a really fast boil, start timing. The time for setting will vary, but I normally start testing after 25 minutes ‘tho it can take double that!

  13. To test, spoon a little onto the cold plate from the freezer. Leave the plate in the fridge for about 5 mins to allow the marmalade to cool. Then, push the sample with your finger. If it is really wrinkled, it’s set. If not, continue to boil and test every 10 mins until it is set. (See cook’s tip)

  14. Leave for about 15 mins in order for the peel to disperse evenly through the mix.

  15. Whilst that is happening, sterilize the washed jars either by putting in a moderate oven for 5 mins180C, 350F, and gas 4 or put about a couple of inches of water in to each jar and microwave for 2 mins on HIGH.

  16. Pour the marmalade, using a funnel and ladle or a jug, into the jars. Seal either with metal lids or cellophane discs and rubber bands. Do this whilst the marmalade is still hot, but leave labelling until completely cold, otherwise the labels won’t stick!

Cook’s Tips: 

  • You can decrease the sugar to your own personal taste, but be aware this will increase the time it takes to set the marmalade. 

  • If you are having problems setting your preserve, add the juice of half an extra lemon and continue to boil until set.

  • An interesting change, for celebrations, is a Buck’s Fizz version, using 1 lb (450g) clementines or satsumas and 2lb (900g) sweet oranges. When measuring the water, take out 150mls. At the end of cooking, add 4tbsps of inexpensive fizz and 2 tbsps triple sec or orange liquor.