Every year for the past decade at about this time in January, I have to ask my brother Phil – also a marmalade maker - to send me a recipe which I should know by heart since I have been using myself since the mid 1970s. Oddly enough though, it turns out that very few people remember even their own marmalade recipe from one year to the next.
But it’s now time to write this one down myself. I think family recipes are fascinating. They are the cornerstones of all food cultures. An Italian mother and daughter who recently visited Bristol from Abbruzzo to make their legendary polenta and pasta dishes at Phil’s shop had been making the same pasta and polenta dishes in exactly the same way in every detail for all their lives.
It is also true that the bloodline for a family recipe is traditionally through the mother and grandmother. And great-grandmother. You can imagine being slightly fearful of straying from the path of such a lineage in case one of them was watching you.
This recipe however comes from my father. Although dedicated and particular in his making of it, he would allow for small changes. And so over the decades, the recipe, while remaining essentially the same, has been adapted and refined by siblings and generations of Haughtons. I think this is the way of all good family recipes.
Some people prefer a lighter more citrussy, sweeter and less caramelised marmalade. If you are one of them, give this a go anyway. I think you will love it. It’s delicious; a deep long lasting bitter-sweet flavour, a beautiful oak-red colour and not too set but not so runny it flows off your heavily buttered sour-dough toast.
With thanks to Phil for his recipe and to Algy for his too
This recipe will make approximately 2.5k or 6 -7 standard (375g net weight) jars of marmalade.
You will need a big heavy-bottomed pan.
1 kg organic Seville oranges
1 organic lemon
1.5k organic granulated sugar
Put all the oranges and lemons in the pan with about 3 pints of water to cover them. You can reduce the liquid later.
Cover and bring to the boil until the orange skins are softened, but not too soft. This will take about 45 minutes. Leave to cool. You could do this step the night before.
Line a large bowl with a muslin cloth (or very clean tea-towel), edges hanging down to the outside
Lift the oranges out of the pan, leaving the liquid in the pan. On a clean non-onion smelling chopping board, halve the fruits. Use your fingers to pick out the pips and drop them into the muslin-lined bowl, then scoop all the flesh and pith into the jam pan.
Using a sharp knife, cut each half orange and lemon in half again lengthways, and then slice widthways into pieces which will be about ½ cm thick and 2cm long
Put the sliced peel into the jam pan with the flesh and pith and boiling liquor.
Add another 1 pint of water.
Tie the corners of your muslin together, and suspend the bag submerged in the pan, tied to the handle of the pan.
Bring to a fast boil and reduce the overall volume by 1/3. This will take about an hour
When the liquid is reduced, take out the muslin pip bag, add the sugar and bring up to a rolling boil again, stirring occasionally and carefully! The temperature of the mamarlade is going to be 250c. Bring to a rolling boil. This last stage of cooking is going to take up to 45 minutes. You need to be on the ball though because you don’t want it to burn or over-set.
After 15 minutes, pour a teaspoon of the marmalade onto a saucer which you have just taken from the fridge. When the marmalade on the saucer is cold, if it sets to a slight wrinkle it is ready. If it’s still runny it needs more cooking. Keep doing this every 10 minutes or so until it is ready.
Leave to cool enough to handle safely but still hot. Transfer marmalade into room temperature sterilised jars. I do this with a plastic jug rather than a ladle – it’s less messy. Put the lids on the jars straight away. This will enable a good vacuum when the marmalade cools in the jars. Clean the jars in hot water.
Marmalade will keep for years in a sealed jar but once open, keep it in the fridge.
Soon, not yet, you can buy Barny's marmalade from Square Food Foundation. Follow us on Instagram to find out as soon as it's ready...