The best oranges for making marmalade are the inedibly bitter, knobbly, Seville oranges from Spain. Spanish people don't usually eat marmalade though, so the majority of the oranges that grow everywhere in Seville, even on trees throughout the center of the city, are exported. Now that I live in Spain, it's actually harder for me to get Seville oranges than it was in England—and it was already tricky as they're only in season for a few months, and only on sale there for a few weeks.
I grew up on the version of marmalade my grandma made from oranges that she froze to use throughout the year. Seville orange marmalade is a smooth, thick, rich, dark preserve that makes any store-bought marmalade seem watery and insipid by comparison. We always returned from our childhood visits laden with jars, and she carried on stocking me up through college. Now, my sister gives me a jar of homemade marmalade when I go to England to visit her. If I ever find Seville oranges in Spanish fruterias I'll be able to join in the family tradition, though I have occasionally substituted in grapefruit so successfully that people thought it was orange marmalade.
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Our family recipe, compared with other recipes I’ve seen, looks like it cuts corners, but its simplicity is key to why it works so well. There aren’t any chunks of peel in it, so you’d need to vary the method a bit if that’s important to you. If you haven’t got a pressure cooker, do the first step in an open pan and simmer the ingredients for two hours, making sure the water covers the fruit.
Note: If you’re not lucky enough to have Seville oranges available at your local market or fruit stand, it’s entirely worth it to buy them online, and maybe even buy extra. You can process the fruit and freeze it to use year-round.
Seville Orange Marmalade
2 pounds Seville oranges
4 pounds sugar
2 imperial pints (just shy of 5 cups) water
How to Make It
Cook the water and whole fruit in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes. There’s no need to take out seeds, skin or pith.
Allow to cool and then blend with a hand blender.
Add the sugar and boil for 10-20 minutes, stirring to stop it from sticking, until it reaches the setting point. You can test this by putting small plates in the freezer then dropping a teaspoon of hot marmalade onto it. If the cooled marmalade wrinkles when pushed, it’s ready. Remember the color (an almost opaque dark orange) and consistency and the next time you’ll be able to tell by eye when it’s ready.