Tag Archives: marmalade

Monster Marmalade Muffins


A quick fix for morning tea that takes about five minutes to whip up. You will need some large muffin cases, sometimes known as tulip cases: either buy them or make using six inch squares of baking parchment. The quantities here will produce four quite large muffins.

Preheat the oven to Gas 5.

In a saucepan, melt 50g of marmalade and 30g of butter, stirring to combine, turning off the heat just before melt is complete, and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 125g self raising flour, 30g sugar, ½tsp baking powder, a pinch of salt, and a tablespoon of poppy seeds; mixing well.

Make sure the saucepan of melted butter/marmalade has cooled. Docteur de Pomiane’s expedient of sticking in one’s pinkie and ensuring it’s not painful works. Add one egg, and mix well, and then 100mL of milk, mixing again. (Add the ingredients in this order, otherwise you end up chasing lumps of solidified butter around the milk.)

Now pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix. Make sure all the flour is incorporated: it will be a little on the lumpy side but that doesn’t matter. Divide the mix between the four cases, and pop in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack for around five minutes before serving.

The orange flavour is fairly subtle, so you could add the zest of a lemon if you want something more fruity. (Some people use a drop of orange oil, but be careful, as this is immensely strong, and will irritate your skin in undiluted form.)


Marmalade 2014

This collection of notes already contains four posts on the weighty matter of marmalade. Four conflicting posts enumerating my frustrations and joys. This year, having made three batches in a row, I think I’ve arrived at a method that is  satisfactory, and keeps the work and mess to a minimum. No muslin, and the marmalade contains everything but the pips.

Here is The New Improved Method. You will need:

  • 8 “one pound” jam jars (they’re called “one pound” but are roughly 300mL in capacity)
  • 1kg Seville oranges (round up, if they’re loose then beware of imitations dropped in by ignorant or malevolent shoppers, the real ones have thick squidgy skin)
  • 2 lemons (aiming for 100mL of juice)
  • 1.5kg caster sugar (you could go for up to 2kg, and adulterate with 50g of Muscovado)

Twist off the little buttons on the base of the oranges and give them a good wash and scrub, as the skins are good at collecting dirt, especially the bits around the buttons. Slice the oranges in half through their equators; not top to bottom. Balance a sieve on top of a large bowl and squeeze the juice of the orange halves into the bowl, so the pips land in the sieve. Most of the pips will come out, but you’ll need to tease out the remainder with a metal teaspoon.

Finely slice up the peel, picking out the remaining seeds as you go. I find the easiest way to do this is to fold each squeezed half down the middle. Slice all the way through, including the connective tissue and any remaining flesh. You don’t need to discard this as it will dissolve during cooking. Add the peel to the juice, and top up with 1.5L of water, and cover the bowl. Put the pips into a small bowl (or large teacup) and cover with water. Leave both for at least 24 hours, and 48 won’t hurt. Refrigeration not necessary.

The following day, tip the peel, juice and water into a large pot. Stainless steel and internal gradations are both good qualities for this pot. (There is a specialised utensil called a Maslin Pan, should you find this becoming an obsession.) Use a pot that can take at least six litres, as it can get frisky and you don’t want it to boil over. Safety first: this stuff is hot (hotter than boiling water) and will stick to your skin.

Grab the teacup where you’ve soaked the pips. They will have exuded most of their pectin, and the water will have turned to jelly. Upend this onto a sieve over the pot, and give it a good shake to get the jelly into the pot. A splash of water from a freshly boiled kettle will help dislodge. You can then chuck the pips away: no need for that piece of muslin. (If you’re putting on a show you can tie the pips into a square of muslin and plonk them in.)

Top the pot up with cold water to two litres, bring it to the boil, and then reduce to a very gently bubbling simmer. After an hour, fish out a piece of peel, cool under cold water, and check that it can be easily crushed between your fingers. In the unlikely event it won’t, then just keep going, checking every half an hour. It will be translucent by this stage. (Remove the muslin bag of pips if you’ve left them in.)

Add the lemon juice, and then top up with cold water to three litres.

We’re now ready for the sugar. I find that if I add it in one go, it tends to clump, so I stir and pour slowly. Stir gently, leaving the heat low, until the sugar has dissolved.

Turn up the heat as high as you dare, and get the stuff going, uncovered, at a rolling boil. You don’t want it to escape, but it can be as frisky as you like. Any stray pips will surface at this point, as may some scum. Skim both. Do not leave it unattended: perch on a stool with a cup of tea and a good book. It will need to be stirred every few minutes, to make sure it doesn’t stick on the bottom. It will froth viciously when you do this, so be prepared.

Now would be a good time to put your washed jars and lids into the oven (gas 2, 120°C) to sterilise. If you have a particularly brutal dishwasher, then make the necessary arrangements. Also, put half a dozen saucers into the freezer.

After half an hour of boiling you can start testing for “a set”. Precisely when this happens is dependent on how much pectin is in the oranges. Take a saucer out of the freezer, place a teaspoon of mixture (no peel) on it, pop it in the fridge and wait for two minutes. Take it out and run your fingernail over the surface: if the skin wrinkles, you’re ready. If not, keep repeating the test every ten minutes. A sugar thermometer will be useful, and will tell you it’s ready when it hits 105C. Also, the contents of the pot will shows signs of becoming shiny and gluey. Don’t forget to stir every so often. If it burns on the bottom you’ve got a right mess to clean up and nothing to show for your labours.

Once you have a set, turn the heat off, and leave it for 15 minutes. Then, give it a stir to distribute the peel, and maybe add a tablespoon or three of whiskey. Ladle it carefully into your hot jars. This is more easily said than done. Putting the pot in the sink, and having the jars lined up on one side is helps, and investing a few quid in a jam funnel will save an awful lot of wastage.

Finally, using a teatowel or something similar to protect your hands, put the lids on the jars. These now need to be parked somewhere at room temperature. The lids will sometimes loosen, so after an hour, gently tighten them. It should now be left undisturbed for 24 hours; do not refrigerate.

The following day, give a jar the gentlest of shakes, to see if it has set. If it’s sloshing around, see my notes on marmalade rescue. If it’s almost set, then leave it for another 48 hours and check again. Sometimes the lids loosen, so gently tighten them up again if necessary.

It can now be stored in a cool dark place for twelve months. It won’t go off after that, since there’s too much sugar, but it will certainly become less interesting. It’s never happened to me, but sometimes the sterilisation will go wrong, and it will go mouldy, so use your common sense if it looks or smells wrong.

Marmalade Rescue

Sometimes, despite one’s best efforts, marmalade will not behave, and will be there, the next morning, sloshing around in its jars, like syrupy orange juice. All your boiling and squeezing, not to mention that sordid business with the chilled saucers, was for nought.

All is not lost. Here is the distillation of conversations with wise mothers, a gentleman whose marmalade regularly wins prizes, and desperate searches on Google.

To get a proper set, you need the following conditions:

  • pectin – Seville oranges are loaded with it, but you can’t tell how much – according to Sally Wise the levels drop as the oranges ripen and the longer they’re left on the shelf
  • acid – don’t forget the lemon juice – Dan Lepard recommends 50mL per 500g original weight of oranges
  • temperature – the liquid needs to hit 105°C
  • liquid – the pectin can gel only so much liquid – Dan Lepard recommends double the original weight of the oranges

Here’s what I do to rescue:

  1. buy some pectin from the supermarket – it comes powdered, in sachets
  2. decant the jars back into the pot (this is particularly humiliating, especially if you triumphantly labelled it)
  3. add the juice of another lemon
  4. stir in the pectin powder (easier said than done as it clumps and you may need to thrash the mix with a whisk)
  5. bring to the boil and either test for a set in the traditional manner, or use a thermometer to ensure it hits 105°C

There’s a good argument to just keep your sloppy marmalade: boiling it again means you lose more of that orange flavour, and you risk ending up with something that’s perfectly set, but doesn’t really taste of very much at all. The sloppy stuff may run off your toast, but is excellent in puddings, cakes, muffins, and as topping for crepes.

Seville Marmalade Cake

Added to my list of things to try out with the batch of marmalade that didn’t quite set.


This week, Katherine and I took a long overdue holiday. We have spent the last five days amongst some of the most incredible scenery North Wales has to offer. If you like walking over snowy mountains, this place is for you. Not only is the landscape incredibly dramatic, but it is peppered with historic monuments, burial grounds, wells and even a bunker which I presume dates back to the Second World War. The sparsely populated county of Gwynedd, North Wales, is truly inspiring – we shall be returning, car under foot, to visit the fabled ‘Roman Steps’.

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Marmalade IV

Much better this time. The oranges peeled first, and the peel shredded before plonking in pot, as per this procedure.

This time, however, the innards of the oranges were popped into a jug, water added to cover, and then blitzed into a rough pulp with a hand blender, which is one of my favourite kitchen gadgets. (I’d be less fond of it with children on the premises as there are no safety features whatsoever.)

Thence into the muslin, which had been damped first, so it could be tied into a ruthlessly tight knot. Note that it’s worth shopping around for your muslin: the Middle Class Retailer near my office sells a single 46cm square for five quid, whilst Nisbet’s sells a 1m × 10m piece for twenty pounds. That’s £20 and £2 per square metre, respectively. (Lakeland worked out at £6/m2 but it comes in 12″ squares, so hardly useful. They are, however, just about the only place that will sell you non posh jam jars.)

The finely shredded peel took only an hour to cook – crucial that it reaches the stage where it can easily be crushed by light pressure between your fingers.

The bag of innards was hoisted out, and popped into a jug with some cold water to cool it down. With the knot being firm I was able to simply hold it by the knot, and twist the bag, to get all the gooey slimey pectin out, which obligingly stuck to my hands, but could be washed off in the aforementioned jug. When I’d finished, the squeezed bag was barely bigger than a single one of the oranges I’d started with. Contents of jug then added for the second stage.

As usual for me, 1.5kg of caster sugar (to an original 1 kilo of Seville oranges) and the whole lot topped up to 3 litres. The usual boiling and waiting for “a set” followed.

Cooled for 15 mins and stirred so the peel would be more evenly distributed when finally popped into jars.

And now, having become almost as obsessive about marmalade as I once was about pastéis de nata, I shall sign off, biding you all a rousing Fat Tuesday, and a suitably mournful Lent.

Marmalade III

I’m slightly miffed as the season’s first batch of marmalade has failed to set, and is sloshing around those oh-so-carefully sterilised jars, as neither liquid nor something you could get out of the jar with a knife.

Why did it fail? A couple of reasons. It was done with the “whole orange method”, which seems superficially reasonable, except you can’t tell when the peel is properly cooked, and it wasn’t. Also, the squishy peel is much harder to shred. On top of that, I really didn’t cook the bag of pips and pith for sufficiently long, so there simply wasn’t enough pectin on hand.

However, it’s very tasty, and can still be used for cooking: in between the layers in bread and butter pudding, filling pancakes, or maybe one of these.

Once more unto the breach.

Marmalade II

Found a kilo of Seville oranges in the freezer which I’d forgotten about so made the final batch of marmalade for the season. Did it slightly differently, with the end result being softer, paler, cloudier, and much more orange flavoured.

Oranges were washed and put whole into 2 litres of water, brought to the boil, and simmered for two hours, and then left to cool. Oranges fished out (water retained of course!) and sliced in half. The insides had detached from the peel, and shrivelled slightly, so were easily detached with a metal spoon and tossed into a bowl lined with a two foot square of muslin. The peel was then easily shredded.

The pot, meanwhile, was heated up again, and 1.5kg white sugar dissolved, and the whole lot topped up to 3 litres. Shredded peel returned to pot, along with the juice of two lemons. The muslin was tied into a bag and added as well, after a vigorous squeeze to get all that lovely slimey pectin into the pot.

Once boiling, it took about fifteen minutes to get a set, and yielded 2.5 litres of finished product.


I’m wondering what possessed me to make some marmalade, other than the undeniable onset of middle age. Not really my area of expertise, so I’ve had to consult the Cookery Pantheon. Pomiane is reticent and defers to the English housewife, and Eliza Acton intriguingly calls it “Scotch” marmalade. (This will also be “scotch” marmalade, but for a different reason.)

The pot. Some people probably have jam pans. I don’t, so am just using my second largest stockpot. What you want is a wide pan, so the liquid will reduce easily, with a heavy base, so the heat is evenly distributed, and nothing burns. (The inside of mine is also discretely marked with a number and an arrow for each litre.)

Safety first, kids. You will be working with liquid that is not only hotter than boiling water, but will retain its heat and stick to your skin. Make sure the pot is reasonably deep to avoid the possibility of boiling over.

Grim warnings aside, here’s what I used to make just over two litres of finished product.

  • 1kg Seville oranges – the bitter nâranj of Persian cooking (sweet oranges don’t turn up until the 16th century, brought back from China by the Portuguese) – these are in the shops from mid Jan to early Feb – the Iranian shops at the fat west end of Kensington High St may have them later
  • 1.5kg sugar (I’m using 1.4kg of preserving sugar plus 100g Muscovado, preserving sugar should dissolve more easily and result in less scum – that’s the theory anyway) – have an extra half a kilo on standby
  • 2.5 litres water
  • 2 lemons (I used a single giant one)

Wash the fruit thoroughly – Blessed Eliza suggests rasping it but I don’t think this is necessary.

Peel the oranges, retaining the peel – easiest way is to score them from top to bottom as though you were going to cut them into four segments.

Balance a metal sieve/strainer on top of the pot and spread a square of muslin into/over it. Squeeze each orange over this, so the juices go into the pot, and the seeds get caught in the muslin. Screech when the juice squirts in your eye. Drop the grisly remains of each orange into the muslin when you’re done.

The lemon is there for the acid – so you just need its juice.

Tie the muslin into a bag, and give it a good squeeze over the pot to get the remaining juice out. You’ll notice that it oozes a bit of slime. This is pectin, and will help the stuff to set.

Whilst the pot’s coming to the boil, finely slice the orange peel, and add to the pot. Quickest way to do this is to stack the quarters of peel four deep and slice laterally. Add these, and the muslin bag to the pot.

Once the pot finally comes to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for two hours. This is a good opportunity to wash your jam jars.

(This is a rather marvellous part of the process: the kitchen, and then the house, will start to smell of Summer. Which on a cold rainy day can only be a Good Thing.)

Once the two hours are up, the peel should be translucent, and easily crushed between your thumb and forefinger, and the liquid may have reduced by half. (Obviously if the liquid is reducing too fast, top up.) At this point I have 1.5 litres, top it up if you have less. (The gradations on the inside of the pot are indispensible.)

Remove the muslin bag to a bowl. When cooled enough to handle, squeeze all the juice and goo out of this and into the pot. The two hours’ simmering will have encouraged a lot of the pectin to dissolve out of the pith and seeds, so don’t be surprised at how much comes out. If this feels like wrestling a treacherous slimy alien monster, you’re doing it right.

Turn the heat up to medium, start stirring in the sugar, and keep stirring until it has dissolved. Have a taste – careful! it’s hot! – and see what you think. If the oranges are particularly savage you may need your reserve half kilo. A fruit:sugar ratio of 1:2 is quite respectable – if you were making this using normal oranges you’d want a 1:1 ratio.

Pop some china saucers in the freezer. Also, get the oven going at about 120ºC, and put the jam jars in it to sterilise them. (Alternatively, if you have a dishwasher, do them on the hot cycle.)

Bring the pot to as murderous a boil as you can manage, occasionally skimming scum if it surfaces. After fifteen minutes, remove a teaspoon of the mix, place it on one of your chilled saucers, and return to the freezer. It should form a skin in a couple of minutes. To test, run your fingernail lightly over the top. If the skin wrinkles, you’re done. If not, keep performing the test every five minutes until it does.

Turn off the heat and allow to cool for about fifteen minutes. Turn the oven off, but leave the jars in it.

Stir the pot to distribute the peel and then pour into the jars. Easier said than done, and I’d recommend spending a few quid on a metal jam funnel. (The marmalade will still be hot enough to melt a plastic funnel at this point.)

A wee dram? No, not you. The marmalade. I bottled half of it, and then stirred in three tablespoons (45mL) of whiskey, before the bottling the remainder. A small amount into a bowl and straight into the fridge for – ahem! – testing.

Label and enjoy.

The whiskey and muscovado sugar are optional, of course. Some people put grated ginger in the muslin bag, and others add spices. Neither sounds appealing to me, but good luck if it floats yer boat.