Driving to Norwich I passed three farm shops all proclaiming Seville Oranges. A lovely task for a cold winter day. Place 10 Seville oranges, 3 ruby grapefruit and 4 lemons in a preserving pan. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil then cover, turn off the heat and leave overnight. In the morning, remove the oranges from the liquour, cut in half and remove the pips (keep them for later) then slice the fruit and then chop as finely or coursely as you like. I use my mandolin cutter for this as it makes short work of it. Then return all the fruit to the pan, add 2kilo of sugar and 100ml extra lemon juice and about 1.2 litres of the cooking liqour. You might need more but I tend to put in slighly less than I think I need because the sugar makes more liquid. Then bring to the boil, stirring the sugar up till it is melted, and boil for about 15 minutes. Half way through you will need to judge whether you need more liquid. The way I judge this is to look at the liquid in the pan – is it watery or thick and glossy? If the latter, and the temperature is about 104C (sugar thermometer here), boil for another five minutes or so then take off the heat. If it is still too watery, boil vigorously for another 10 minutes. My added ingredient is about 2 loaded tablespoons of my home made mincemeat. It adds a rich spicy darkness to the marmalade. You could add whisky, brandy, chopped ginger if you wish. To test whether it has reached setting point is one of those alchemic moments. I’ve tried the dropping off the end of a wooden spoon trick, and the dropping some onto a cold plate then pushing it with your finger method. But all in all I think its just a matter of judgement, liquid content and temperature. So that’s what works for me.
Leave it to settle for about 15 minutes while you prepare the jars (ie remove dead flies, spiders and dust from the jars you have been keeping in the cupboard, scald them, sort the lids, put jars in the microwave for 2 minutes on blast) then decant into the jars using a half litre jug and a wide necked funnel. Any other ‘quick’ method results in sticky jars, sticky fingers, sticky work surfaces and bad temper. Seal with a circle of greaseproof and put the lids on when cold. Otherwise you’ll get condensation on the inside of the lids and mould in about 8 weeks time.