In my attempt to get through all of Nigella’s Seville Orange recipes during their short season, I made Seville Orange Marmalade last week on Monday. And it was only today, a full week later, that I managed to eat it for breakfast.
My breakfast... a cappucino, a glass of soymilk, toast with vegemite, and toast with cream cheese and Seville orange marmalade.
65. Seville Orange Marmalade
Nigella prefaces this recipe with the admission that she has never made marmalade, but she has a friend who “swears it’s easy”. Not exactly confidence-inspiring, but I was prepared to give it a go.
The recipe says to boil 700g Seville oranges, in 2 litres of water until soft. Ok, so I poured the water over the oranges, let it boil, and went to watch an episode of Arrested Development. And then I came back…
It had boiled dry and had started to catch on the bottom of the pan. Whoops. Still unpeturbed, I ran to my How to be a Domestic Goddess for advice. (In the few years between How to Eat and How to be a Domestic Goddess, Nigella seems to have increased her jam-making abilities extensively). And in that book, it just said to cover the oranges with enough water to let them float freely, rather than specifying an amount of water. So, I fired up the kettle and covered them generously with the boiled water. Then I let them boil until soft.
Still ok on the inside
Then you cut them up, remove the pips, boil them in some water, and chuck both oranges and pip-water in a pan with 1.4 kilos of sugar. Now, according to How to be a Domestic Goddess, you boil them until a drop of the marmalade placed on a cold saucer wrinkles when prodded. This should take about 15 minutes. I tested at 10 minutes, at 15, at 17, at 18… and never quite reached this mysterious setting stage. But by 20 minutes, the sludge in the pot was looking quite dark, so I gave up on the idea of discovering a setting point, and turned off the pan and let it cool, before spooning it into jars.
This was all well and good until a couple of days later, when my mum tried to eat some for breakfast. The marmalade was rock solid!! SHIT.
I was all prepared for the marmalade to go the way of the rubbish bin and for me to start again, but my mum (now known as “Lady Marmalade”) wasn’t so easily put off. Unbeknownst to me, over the past couple of days, she was working on this marmalade. Firstly, she put the jars in a tray, and poured hot water up the sides to soften the jam. Eventually, it got soft enough for her to scrape out and into another pan. Then she added water, and put it on a gentle heat until it was all combined and fabulous.
P.S. The marmalade tastes great! The perfect balance between bitter and sweet. I think I cut the oranges up too thickly though – my mum said they should have been cut finer. But the most important thing about this is to just boil it for 15 minutes, like the recipe says, so you don’t get a big solid pile of crap like I did!