There is something so comforting about the marmalade window, that brief period at the coldest, darkest, dingiest moment of the year when Seville oranges appear fleetingly on green grocers’ shelves. Aficionados must act quickly, as the bitter oranges do not hang about for long, and if the moment is missed, wait they must until the following year to boil up their unctuous tawny broth. Either that, or they must keep their fingers crossed that a fellow fan will spare them a pot or two, for marmalade is generally not for sharing. Unlike jam, it is not made from a glut, but from a deep held desire to create the perfect pot.
It is of little surprise then that marmalade making has become a competitive sport, with contests and competitive spirit bubbling up all over the shop. One such competition is held every year in Aldeburgh by craft butcher Salter & King with entries opening at the beginning of February and closing for judging at the end of March. “It’s a lot of fun, and we raise money for local charities, but it can get quite heated,” says founder, Gerrard King. “But as everyone thinks their pot is the best, I guess it comes with the territory.”
There are only three ingredients for marmalade - Seville oranges, sugar and water- but the magic is in the alchemy, when the oranges’ sharp citric notes combine with the sweetness of the sugar and set to a refreshing yet bitter amber jelly. As for method, the debates rage on: how thin to shred the peel, how much peel to use, whether to soak the fruit overnight. But whatever your preferences (personally we like not too much thin peel and an overnight soak) on the day you choose to make your marmalade your house will smell heavenly and you will be rewarded with possibly the most delicious piece of toast and marmalade of the year.
Follow Emma’s marmalade recipe and fill your kitchen with the heavenly smell of simmering oranges!Try it now