Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Its at this time of the year that the local markets get their delivery of Seville oranges or oranges améres in french. For some unexplained reason, organic produce is always later in the season than the conventional ones. Perhaps all those nice tasty pesticides make the fruit ripen quicker.
These Seville oranges, are very different to their sweeter cousins that you find all year round. They are only available in January and February and marmalade makers await their arrival impatiently. Under the thick, elephantic skin of the orange, the flesh is tart and packed with seeds. The high acidity makes it perfect for preserves or for a meat sauce that cuts through the rich and fattiness of duck and some meats. I also like to use it as a replacement for lemon or lime juice in ceviche or a little bit of the peel left to infuse in a bottle of olive oil makes a tangy oil dressing for more bitter leaves such as dandelion or roquette. They are even great for making ice cream or sorbet but maybe later in the year. Its possible to freeze them whole and keep them for sunnier days when their juice will be even more appreciated.
But right now I have to make marmalade for my man who just cannot wait for the first pot. I myself am not a big jam lover but as you will see I am often bound by marriage vows to do so.
Deborah's Seville Orange Marmalade
(makes about 5kg (11lb)
700g (1.5lb) Seville oranges
700g (1.5lb) other citrus fruit - grapefruit, tangerine, limes and lemons
2.3kg (6lb) granulated sugar
Put the fruit in a large saucepan or jam pan with 2.3 litres (4 pints) water and simmer gently for about six hours.
Remove the fruit from the water and cut each in half. Scoop out the pips into a small saucepan, cover with 300ml (1/2 pint) water and simmer for 10 minutes. Leave to cool, then strain this liquid into the jam pan with the water the fruit cooked in.
While the pips are simmering, cut up the fruit by hand or by food processor. Put the fruit back in the the water in the jam pan. Add the sugar and cook on a low hear, stirring occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved. Then boil furiously, and after 10 minutes pull the pan off the heat to test whether the marmalade is setting. Do this by dripping some marmalade on a cold saucer. Leave it for a few minutes and if the skin on top of the marmalade wrinkles when you push the surface of the sample with the tip of your finger, you have a set. If it is still runny, put the jam back on the heat, boil vigorously for 5 minutes and test again. Always pull the pan off the heat before testing.
Pot while still hot into warmed jars.
8 Seville or bitter oranges
half a litre of eau de vie or vodka
700g cane sugar
2 litres of a good rose wine
1 vanilla bean
1 cinnamon stick
Cut the oranges, lemon and lime into quarters. Mix the sugar in a large recipient (I use an old ceramic jar) with the alcohol and then add the fruit, vanilla and cinnamon. Cover. Leave to macerate in a cool place for 3 weeks stirring every few days. Strain through a muslim cloth into clean bottles and cork. Keeps in a cool place for over a year.