Seville trees grow everywhere in Greece. They are often wild or planted next to roads, especially in the cities where they decorate the streets. The orange blossoms are used for blossom water, the unripe fruit for ‘glyko’ and the juice as a secret ingredient in lemony Greek potatoes. Known as Nerantzi, they are not bitter but fragrant, sour and tangy. I often opt for Nerantzi juice to sweeten sauces or make orange curd.
But, for now, I’m thinking hot buttery Irish soda bread toast and homemade Seville marmalade.
This is a no-nonsense, simple recipe for the all-time classic Seville marmalade with a delicious fruity flavour that’s not too sweet and prepared with minimal fuss, chopping and shredding. It’s nearing the end of the Seville season, so if you still can grab a bag it’s well worth the effort!
Cut the whole fruit into even slices
Use fresh and clean, ideally organic, oranges and unwaxed lemons. Prepare the fruit on a chopping board over the saucepan to avoid wasting any precious juice. Cut the whole fruit into even slices and then cut each round in half or keep them whole as I do – removing and reserving the pips as you go.
The most important thing is to keep the strips even, so they cook equally. Make them smaller if you prefer. Don’t worry about the pith – it softens and becomes translucent as you boil the slices.
Reserve all the pips and tie them into a muslin bag
Tie the pips in the muslin bag and bring to a boil, then simmer (lid off) for two hours or until the fruit is soft and the water has reduced by half. About ten minutes towards the end of simmering – remove the muslin bag and put it in a bowl in the fridge – so you can squeeze as much juice out of the bag as possible back into the pan. This juice is vital as it contains much of the pectin.
Be sure to dissolve all the sugar and bring it QUICKLY back to a BRISK boil
Immediately add the sugar to the pan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar. It may take about 10 minutes. When you are sure the sugar has dissolved, bring it quickly back to a brisk boil (lid off) until you reach the setting point – aim for no longer than 20 minutes. I suggest testing it at 15 minutes. When you are happy, leave to cool for 20 minutes before packing into hot sterilised jars. Allowing it to cool settles the peel and stops it from floating to the jar’s top.
After adding the sugar, the aim is to get to the setting point as quickly as possible – the quicker you do – the tastier it will be. Don’t attempt more than 1 – 1.5 kilos of fruit per batch. It won’t work. The general rule of thumb is about 500g of fruit produces 1.5k of marmalade.
The method is very similar to the Festive Marmalade recipe and, so far, has produced excellent results. Not too sweet with a full fruit flavour. Cut the fruit to your liking – thick or thin and replace one cup of sugar with jam sugar if you are nervous about the setting point. Nerantizi oranges are high in pectin, so it shouldn’t be necessary.
I use all soft brown sugar and add a tablespoon of molasses for a darker marmalade. Use golden granulated sugar if you prefer a lighter version. For an equally classic marmalade recipe, you can experiment with flavourings such as brandy, whisky, and ginger.
I have also discovered another fabulous use for Seville oranges. An aperitif, Bitter Orange Drink (Vin apéritif à l’orange amère), which according to Costas and Aglaia, is a delicious Campari-like drink served with soda in a tall glass. 🍊😁 And all for free because you can gather them anywhere! What a fantastic find – top of my ‘to-do’ list.
Click here for tangerine marmalade and more preserves.
- Large heavy-based saucepan. 20 cm square piece of muslin. Approx 8 x 350ml sterilised jam jars. Saucers in the freezer to check the setting point.
- 1 kilo organic Seville oranges
- 2 large organic unwaxed lemons
- 2 (approx) kilo brown sugar or golden granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp molasses optional
- 2 litres water
- Prepare the fruit on a chopping board over the jam saucepan to avoid wasting any precious juice. Cut the whole fruit into even round slices and then cut each round in half – removing and reserving the pips as you go. Keep the strips even, so they cook equally. Make them smaller if you prefer.
- Tie the pips in the muslin bag and bring to a boil, then simmer (lid off) for two hours or until the fruit is soft and the water has reduced by half. About ten minutes towards the end of simmering – remove the muslin bag and put it in a bowl in the fridge – so you can squeeze maximum juice back into the pan.
- Immediately add the sugar to the pan and gently heat to dissolve – it may take about 10 minutes. When you are sure the sugar has dissolved, bring it back to a brisk boil until you reach the setting point. This should take no longer than about 20 minutes. Avoid stirring too much; only enough to prevent it from sticking. Test at 15 minutes – the quicker you get to the setting point the tastier the marmalade.
- Leave to cool slightly before packing into hot sterilised jars. Allowing it to cool settles the peel and stops it from floating to the jar's top. See below for bottling and testing for the setting point.