Christmas marmalade

  • Words and recipes Jo Arnell

Zest for Life

makes approx. 6 jars

This is best made with the wonderful Seville oranges that come into the shops in January, but any oranges (or even clementines) will do if you want to give this away as a present and can't yet find any Sevilles. I used to get sore fingers slicing up orange peel into shreds, but the method in this recipe makes it all much easier.

  • 1.2 kg Seville oranges
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2.5 kg preserving sugar
  • 2l water

Once you've scrubbed them to remove any wax, place the whole oranges (no fiddling with pith and pips, hurrah!) in a large preserving pan and cover with lemon juice and water. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 2 hours until the peel is soft. Once the oranges are cool (this could be the next day if you like), cut them in half and scoop out all the pith and pips. Tip them back into the cooking water and simmer for 5 minutes or so to release the pectin (which helps the marmalade set).

Slice the (lovely, soft) peel into shreds of desired thickness. Yes, it will take a while, but not as long as trying to slice uncooked oranges. Sieve out the pith and pips from the cooking liquid (this is the base of your marmalade now), squeezing out as much pectin as you can back into the pan. Make the liquid up to 2 litres again by topping up with water if necessary. Add the shreds of peel and the sugar (many recipes say warm the sugar first, but I nearly always forget this bit and haven't noticed a difference). Dissolve the sugar in the liquid and bring gently to boiling point. Keep on a rolling boil, testing for a set after 10 mins or so (place a little on a chilled saucer and see if it looks like marmalade - it should wrinkle when pushed with the spoon. Boil a little longer if necessary). Once setting point is reached, take off the heat and leave to cool before pouring into sterilised jars - leaving it to cool for a little while should stop the peel all floating to the top of the jar.

Tip: If you want a darker, deeper flavoured marmalade continue simmering for a while until the desired colour and taste have been achieved and then bring up to the boil until the set is reached.

Jo runs practical gardening courses from her idyllic home in Woodchurch. To find out more visit