Thought For Food

Thought For Food

This month is all about oranges for our celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager

I absolutely love homemade marmalade. When I go to local fetes and shows I always make a beeline for them, so this month I would like to salute the Seville orange.

I love that bitter, sour, sweetness. You cannot eat them raw, but they are wonderful used in the culinary world. I think these fruits are pretty special – you can use them for almost anything. We think of them mostly only for the marmalade, because of the high pectin level in the pips – it’s a great setting fruit, you can use the pips with other fruits to help the setting. In fact, you can use Seville oranges for any amount of dishes and that goes for savoury as well, especially the famous duck a l’orange.

In Spain, Seville oranges are normally harvested from November onwards. For some reason we get them into market in January, so if you want them for Christmas you could order them in.

The flowers of the fruits in the spring are used in aromatherapy and perfumes, and orange flower water, and the leaves are used in some countries for alternative medicine.

Seville oranges originally come from China; they were imported through the trade routes via Italy, to the Mediterranean. Then the sweet oranges were brought via the Portuguese coast in the 17th century and soon overtook the bitter oranges except in the small area of Spain where they still grow them – hence the name Seville oranges.

I hadn’t realised myself that marmalade was not originally made from Seville oranges or any other orange at first, but quince. Quince did come from Spain though, in fact the Spanish word for quince is ‘marmelo’ and the quince paste was called ‘marmelada’, hence the English called the bitter orange marmalade.

In my family they have always complained that my marmalade does not stand still and it runs. You will find so many people make it in so many ways.

This recipe was given to me by a Yorkshire lady called Margarita, so I have named it after her. The great thing about marmalade, is it’s quite difficult to get it wrong!

Speak next month

Margarita’s Seville Marmalade

• 1.5kg Seville oranges
• 2 lemons
• 3kg granulated sugar
• 1 dessert spoon black treacle
• 3.3 litres water

First in a large saucepan simmer the oranges in water for 1½ hours.

Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and carefully place on a large plate to cool. Turn the heat off for a moment while you prepare the fruit.

Cut open the fruit and remove the pips and add to the water. Bring the water to boil and simmer to reduce the liquid to just over a litre. Strain the pips through a fine sieve then put the liquid back into the saucepan.

Now remove the flesh and pith from the oranges, then cut the peel into any length or size you like in your marmalade.

Put the cut peel back into the liquid with the sugar and treacle. This is when the sugar must roll boil for at least 15 minutes, if using a thermometer I boil from 105°c to 107°c or until set. Also I remove scum if there is any.

To test whether its ready take a cold plate put a little on then you can see if it starts to thicken.