What the experts say:
Source the best Sevilles
Ivan Day, food historian: Sevilles suitable for marmalade come in from Spain and vary a lot in quality. A poor batch of oranges can mean a poor batch of marmalade. If you live in a city with lots of greengrocers, take the time to shop around and compare the produce. Make sure the oranges are free from blemishes and if possible buy organic which ensures their skins are free from chemicals too.
Get in the mood
Sarah Randell, food director Sainsbury’s Magazine: Always make marmalade when you’re in the mood. Don’t rush the process and enjoy the ritual.
Keep it Simple
Phil Mumby, speciality consultant for Ringtons Tea and Fortnum & Mason: Don’t try to ‘improve’ a marmalade by adding ‘exotic’ ingredients, like chilli or cardamom, that can distract you from the wonderful taste of Seville oranges.
Shredded not diced – and make them meaty
Jonathan Miller, preserves buyer for Fortnum & Mason: When someone dices rather than shreds you wonder what they’re trying to hide, and you get a cloudy marmalade. Shreds look far nicer. But don’t make the shreds too fine – cut them medium to chunky to give your marmalade texture when you bite into it. You’re not after orange jelly, but something with character and body. When slicing your peel, use a sharp knife – you don’t want the job to take longer than it needs to.
Soften your peel properly
Walter Scott, joint managing director of Wilkin & Sons (Tiptree): One of the most common mistakes people make is not to soften their peel properly which makes the marmalade hard work to eat. Cooking the peel is also important to release pectin which helps your marmalade set. Once sugar is added the peel won’t soften further, so the best way to make sure it softens is to cook the oranges on their own first – we simmer them in water for at least four hours the day before, but at home you probably only need to simmer them for around two hours. The following day add the sugar and make up the marmalade.
Dissolve your sugar then leave it alone
Pam Corbin, preserving expert and former owner of Thursday Cottage, marmalade and jam makers: After adding sugar to the oranges, stir the mixture over a gentle heat to ensure it’s completely dissolved before it starts to boil. Once it’s reached a rolling boil, disturb it as little as possible.
Listen to your marmalade
Don’t overcook your marmalade
Lady Claire Macdonald, food writer: While you’re testing your marmalade to see if it’s set, take it off the boil. Otherwise you risk boiling away the water content, and ending up with a dark, over-thick marmalade that’s dry and rubbery.
Cool before potting – but not too much
Pam Corbin: Allow your marmalade to cool and relax before potting. This allows the mixture to thicken slightly so that the peel, when potted, remains evenly distributed throughout the jar. However the marmalade should still be above 85ºC to kill any mould spores. Once potted put the lids on as quickly as possible to create a vacuum.
Freeze your Sevilles, but not too ripe
Walter Scott: By all means freeze Seville oranges to make marmalade later in the year. But make sure they’re not overripe – if you freeze overripe ones you’ll get black oranges when you cook them.
Let us know your marmalade-making tips below…