You’ve still time to make this for Valentine’s Day and give your loved one a hearty breakfast! [sorry, had to get that one out of the way]
A couple of years ago I saw some marmalade with heart-shaped peel pieces advertised in the run up to Valentine’s Day. It was only being sold in Fortnum and Mason’s so the schlep to the shops was a labour of love in itself, though it turns out this was as nothing when compared to making your own! But of course nothing says “I love you” quite like giving of your time, blood, sweat and tears. And as January and February make up the brief Seville orange season the timing is perfect for the feast of Saint Valentine.
Marmalade making has a bit of a reputation as a dark art where the magical mystery of the bitter orange’s own pectin provides the set, and timing and temperature are crucial components. Perhaps this is why for several years I’ve stocked up on Sevilles and then watched them shrivel before they could be preserved for posterity. Well not this year!
You’ll find any number of recipes online, I opted for that of baking guru Dan Lepard which you can find here. I didn’t think my oranges were providing enough juice for the amount of peel, so I juiced the same quantity again, but then used their peel too so I had the same ratio but double the quantity! When it came to cooking though I didn’t want to use too much water and ended up juicing a few more, and the result is certainly intensely orangey with a good balance of bitter and sweet. The main thing to get right seemingly is the liquid to sugar ratio [Dan gives detailed instructions], and to save every pectin-rich pip.
To make this Valentine’s version follow Dan’s recipe and these additional notes…
- Equip yourself with a small heart-shaped cutter which you can find in the sugar crafts and baking section of your local cook shop.
- Cut the heart shapes from the peel after their overnight soak in the orange juice. I found this worked best cutting with the pith side up, outer skin side down. If using a plain metal cutter [as opposed to a fancy plunger version] press down through a cloth, or you really might risk investing blood and tears!
- Take some time to pare out about half the width of pith from the peel with a small sharp knife [not mentioned in the recipe] if you like a less chunky bite. I kept the papery internal membranes from the oranges too and threw them into the pot wrapped in muslin – I’ve no idea if this does any good but every other bit of the orange seems to have something to add so it seemed a shame not to!
- You will end up with odd bits of off-cuts of peel when you’ve cut out the hearts. Don’t waste these but tie up in muslin too and add to the cooking liquor.
- If you want a very clear jelly strain the juices through muslin before cooking. I didn’t, it’s up to you.
- When the jelly is still hot and quite liquid the peel may congregate towards the surface. For more even distribution wait until the marmalade has cooled and set a little, then stir.
Now all you need is some pretty ribbon for decoration and voila – love in a jar.
Marmalade to spare? Why not try my brioche pudding recipe.