Seville Orange Marmalade (with or without Whisky)

24 Nov

It’s Sunday morning and I have about 15 kilos of oranges all over the house!  They are in baskets in the hall, living room and kitchen. We have two orange seasons in Spain – one in May and the other in November.  The trees everywhere are just dripping with the things and my harvest is made up from our courtyard oranges and the ones I have scrumped from Desert Springs!  Theirs are much bigger and juicer whilst mine are a little more bitter which is perfect for marmalade making.


I put on Radio 2 for Love Songs (yes I know, I know but parts of marmalade making are intensely boring and I need something to sing to where I know the words, or have even heard of the artist – this is nothing new and those who know me well know that I never have known what goes on in the modern world of music, only the old one!).  I am looking out onto the courtyard which is drenched in sunshine.  It is still early so a little chilly so I light the kitchen fire.  Now I am at my happiest!


You can make marmalade with any citrus fruit – grapefruit is wonderful as it is bitter and therefore not sickly.  As is lemon (see previous recipes).  However, bitter orange is also divine and I always put in a whole pound less sugar than the recipe states.  This does mean leaving it on a rolling boil for much much longer, but I think the result is far superior unless you have an exceptionally sweet tooth.  It is dead simple, you do not need any special equipment, just the fruit and the sugar, and a bit of whisky if you like, and that is that.  So, collect your jars, give them a wash and 10 minutes in the oven (moderate) to sterilise of off you go.


The quantity I use means that you are not having to wait forever for a set (when the jam is ready to leave to cool and then bottle).  Also, you don’t want it boiling over which is a nightmare.


2 lbs (900 g) Seville Oranges, or lemons, or grapefruit

1 lemon

4 pints of water (2.25 litres)

3 lbs granulated sugar (1.3 kgs)

A small square of muslin or a fine clean handkerchief will do (this is to tie the pips and leftover pulp in the juicer)


Put the water into a very large pan – the size that you would use for a casserole

The juice the oranges and the lemon and add to the pan

Now for the boring bit – enlist some help if you can – you need to slice the orange halves into thin shreds.  I don’t make them too thin as it just takes too long but you may be more patient than I!  If you come across any pips, put them on the muslin square.  All of this contains pectin which will help the marmalade come to a set.


Then tie up your little muslin bag with string and suspend it into your liquid by the handle.  Bring up to a simmer, and continue simmering for around an hour and a half.


Then remove your little bag to cool.  Add all the sugar and stir in to dissolve before turning up the heat and bringing to a raped boil. Squeeze the little bag with your (clean) fingers into the pan or you can scrape it onto a saucer first – it will be a jelly like substance – and whisk it into the jam.


You need to kind of hover about for the next bit as you do not want your marmalade to boil over – but just let it come to a rolling boil and leave it like that for at least 25 minutes – at the same time put 4 saucers into the freezer (this is for testing the jam).

After 25 to 30 minutes put a teaspoon of marmalade onto the saucer and pop in the fridge.  After a couple of minutes, take it out and push it with your index finger – if it definitely crinkles you know it is ready – in my experience it never is so continue boiling for another 10 minutes and re-test.  Don’t be tempted to bottle until you get a crinkle –I have done often when it is not quite ready, and whilst I like what I call French jam (runny) you don’t want a liquid either!).  When you think it is ready, take it off the heat and cool for 20 minutes – this way the fruit stays evenly distributed in the marmalade.   I find it easier to ladle into a large jug and pour into the prepared jars.  Put a waxed disc on and seal.  (you can buy these from stationers I think or else order from Lakeland!).


If at the end of the day the marmalade is still too liquidy, don’t fret, just pour it all back in a pan and repeat from the rolling boil part.  It’s a bit of a faff but at least you won’t have wasted your time.  If you want to add a bit of whiskey, do so just before bottling – for this quantity I would say you need about 5 tablespoons – but you do need the marmalade to have reached a proper set first – the crinkly bit – as otherwise the added liquid will just hinder the setting process. Again, if it doesn’t set, no matter, just re-boil as above – the worst that will happen is the whiskey will evaporate!


Once you have made your own marmalade or jam, you won’t ever want to buy any again.  My sister supplies a little restaurant in North London where you can have tea and scones all day long among other things,  with jams from fruit on her allotment and they can’t get enough and have numerous comments from their customers.  Have a go when you have some time to yourself – it is very rewarding and also very relaxing and something different to do.  Start now and you will have some lovely pressies for Christmas.


4 Responses to “Seville Orange Marmalade (with or without Whisky)”

  1. Tes November 24, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    I just love marmalade. It’s so wonderful on breakfast table with some fresh toast. Thanks for sharing the recipe 🙂

    • Gail Harris November 30, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

      Hi there Tes
      thank you for your nice comment – hope you get round to making some – enjoy!

  2. Barbara Buist February 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    Enjoyed reading. Interesting – live in the Costa del Sol, and Seville oranges just ripened the last fortnight. Normal oranges November too. Been doing the ‘River Cafe’ recipe which works for me because it is less faf, and much less sugar, but wanted to know about adding whiskey. Thank you. A happy smile on my face reading.

  3. yummyalmeria February 26, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    Hi there, been so busy so apologies – always nice to hear from people that I don’t know. I think Nigel Slater also has good marmalade recipes which my sister told me about which are less labour intensive (although I normally make mine on a Sunday morning listening to Love Songs on radio two, so I don’t mind how long it takes! Try my lemon marmalade as I think it is even better. (look at the recipe section). Thank you for your comments 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: