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It’s Seville orange season and that can only mean one thing: marmalade. The other day, I text my Dad in a hurry asking if he had a copy of my Grandma’s Seville orange marmalade recipe. As a child, I remember her cooking batches upon batches, filling the kitchen worktop with glistening glass jars full of the stuff. Breakfasts in Norfolk were always a Sainsbury’s bakers brown loaf, a spread of margarine and a think layer of chunky marmalade – of which I’d usually gobble down at least two slices in one sitting.

Every year, new jars of marmalade would arrive at home and the taste of bittersweet oranges always reminds me of her. Probably one of the most underrated comediennes, she had a smart wit and an infectious sense of humour that never let anyone down. It’s an unusual thought knowing that a little part of her will always be a part of me, and that spending time with her and my Grandad will have shaped the way I am today. She was an incredible social butterfly, going to church every Sunday and helping out at their regular coffee mornings (mainly to have a chat with every single person she could find). Fearless and confident, she would strike up a conversation with absolutely anyone, which I hugely admired her for.

My Grandma was the person who encouraged me to pursue baking, and I regularly watched her make pastry and apple pies for cold winter nights, for which my Grandad would always make the custard for. Her almanac of recipes are second to none and there’s no doubt I’ll be flicking through her handwritten notes for years to come.

After she passed on International Women’s Day in 2018, my Auntie very kindly had a baking bowl made for me. On the inside, it reads ‘a meal is not a meal without a pudding’, a quote Grandma would regularly remind us of when laying three different dessert choices on the table. As a “growing” teenager, she’d encourage me to have a slice of each – even if my belly was far too full from the mains.

I have a photo of us together on a summers day in Nottingham on my bedside table, where we’re both smiling so wide we have little creases in the corners of our eyes. I hugely miss trying to beat her at scrabble, and learning how to make clothes on her Singer sewing machine and her bacon and cheese sarnies she’d make us for lunches as children. I remember her always laughing and positive, a cheeky wink here and there when she played pranks on us, and for all the love and affection she gave out.

So many of you said that you wanted this recipe, which she created at some point in the late 1900s, so I’m sharing it with you to make yourself. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

Grandma’s Seville orange marmalade

2lbs of Seville oranges
2 lemons
4lbs granulated sugar
(or you can use half jam sugar, half granulated sugar)
2 pints water
(if you don’t have a pressure cooker and are using a regular saucepan with lid, use 4 pints of water)

  1. Put the oranges and lemons into a pressure cooker with 1 pint of water (or 2 pints if you’re using a regular saucepan). Make sure they all fit on the bottom by halving the lemons and fitting them in between the oranges.
  2. Bring to pressure and cook for 12 minutes. The end of a spoon should go through the oranges easily when cooked. If the skin of the oranges is still a bit tough, add a touch more water and cook for a few more minutes.
  3. Be careful when opening your pressure cooker or the lid of your saucepan, as the contents will be piping and steam can burn. When the oranges are cool enough to handle, quarter or halve the cooked fruit and remove all the pips.
  4. Scrape out all the flesh and throw it into the saucepan, making sure no pips have escaped into the leftover liquid that’s still in there.
    N.B. Any surplus bits of flesh, pips, etc. can be strained well through a sieve to get all the “goo” into the water.
  5. Chop the skins as thinly or thickly as you like, and add everything else to the saucepan, plus another 1 pint of water (or 2 if using a saucepan).
  6. Warm your sugar on a sheet of baking parchment on a tray in the oven. Choose a low heat – around 140C for 5-10mins.
  7. Place your saucepan back over the heat and then add your warmed sugar gradually to the pan, stirring into your fruits and water. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved or it tends to crystallise later.
  8. Bring to a fast boil, skim if necessary and stir constantly to avoid the sugar burning. Boil until setting point is reached.
    N.B. My Grandma never left timings on this, so place a small plate in your freezer and after about 20mins, take a spoonful of marmalade and place it on the cold plate. If a skin forms and it starts to wrinkle, it’s ready! She did say, and I quote: “Don’t over-boil, or you’ll have glue!!”
  9. Let the marmalade stand and cool for a while until a skin starts to develop.
  10. Prepare your jars by boiling a kettle full of water and filling them and the lids to the brim. Let them stand for 10-15mins or so before pouring out the water and placing in your still-hot oven to dry off.
  11. Spoon the marmalade into your now dry jars and immediately place waxed discs on top before sealing with the lids whilst still hot. This creates suction and preserves your jam for longer.

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