Friday, 24 February 2012

An Orange from Seville?

The Seville Oranges arrive in Scotland in January and February.

An Orange...not from Seville
I have a couple of kilos, thanks to my friends Christopher and Gudrun, and the diligence of the gardeners at the Marimurta Botanic Gardens in Blanes. I'll be making marmalade, of course.

They don't come from Seville. I think "Seville" must have been the source of the first box of these bitter, rough-skinned oranges when they arrived in Dundee or Leith. In Scotland we have a story that Mary, Queen of Scots, was ill - "Marie, malade" in her native French. Her cook used the bitter oranges to make a sweet jam, to help the Queen get better. "Marie, malade" became "marmalade." 

No, I don't believe the story either - especially as here, in Catalan, all jams are "melmelada," a word too close to "marmalade" to be coincidence.

I use a variant on the Good Housekeeping recipe:
1.4kg oranges (bitter, "Seville" oranges)
2 lemons
3.4 litres water
2.7kg sugar
6 cloves

Cut the oranges in half, squeeze out juice and pips. Chop up a few of the pips, and tie in a muslin bag.
Slice up the orange halves thinly to produce strips of orange skin. Cut the zest from the lemons. Cut lemons in half and squeeze out juice.
Put water, oranges, lemon zest, juice of oranges and lemons, the muslin bag of pips, cloves into a huge pan, the biggest you have, and boil gently for about 2 hours. Liquid will be reduced by half. Remove muslin bag of pips.
Take off the heat (this is important.) Slowly stir in the sugar until it is completely dissolved (no gritty feeling under your spoon.)
Bring to the boil and boil for about 15 mins (often longer...) Test for a set - the surface should crinkle when a spoonful is put onto a cold saucer.
Meanwhile, warm up jam jars. Put a metal spoon into the jam jar (to absorb some of the heat) and ladle marmalade into jars. Seal, label and store in a dark place.
Option: add a big glass of whisky to the pan after the jam is cooked and before placing in jars. Brilliant.

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