A begrudgingly benevolent bestowment: Cardamom and seville orange marmalade

I’ve never made marmalade before and so didn’t have a tried and tested recipe to pass on (benevolently, but almost begrudgingly as they so often seem to be). Instead I scoured the internet, bringing together the different (and often contrasting) ideas from a whole host of recipes to suit what seemed to me the ideal. You see, I want my marmalade to be deep flavoured and darkly coloured, and yet aesthetically I want it to be clear as crystal with generous slithers of thick-cut skin (but not too thick). Taste-wise I don’t want it to be too sweet as I tend towards the tart (oh err) and I wanted to have a little hint of something else in there too: something hidden and subtle, but different to the other jars that you can pick up at your local supermarket. So I stole a little bit from here, a little from there, the general method from Delia, and some tips from twitter (in particular @terreaterre). The result is a confuddled recipe that I can call my own and benevolently (though somewhat begrudgingly) bestow upon you all. I do hope you enjoy it and feel free to tweak away to match your own tastes and aesthetics.

Cardamom and seville orange marmalade

  • approx 1kg of Seville oranges (unwaxed if possible)
  • 2 lemons (unwaxed if possible)
  • 20 cardamom pods
  • 1.6 – 1.8kg of white granulated sugar
  • approx 100g of brown sugar.

Scrub the oranges and lemons to remove any wax. Put the fruit in a large heavy bottomed saucepan and cover with water (ideally, you want about 3 and a half pints of water, but if you don’t have a pan big enough you can always top up later, so just fill with as much water as you can). Put the lid on and bring to simmering point.

Once the water is simmering, put a double piece of foil under the lid and turn the heat down very low. Simmer gently for around 3 hours until the fruit is soft.  Leave to cool. I did this the night before so that the fruit could cool and soak overnight (don’t throw away the poaching liquor).

Once the oranges and lemons are completely cool, cut them in half and scoop out the flesh, pips and pith into another saucepan. Add about a pint of the poaching juice and simmer gently for about half an hour. Then pour into a sieve lined with muslin and leave the liquor to drain slowly into a bowl.

Meanwhile discard the lemon peel, cut the halves of oranges in half again and then cut into strips (thick or thin depending on your preference).

By now the pulp liquor should have mostly dripped through the muslin, but to get the final dregs out give the muslin a little squeeze (I just used the back of a spoon to squash and squeeze the pulp).  Add this pectin rich juice back to the rest of the poaching liquid from before and check that you still have about 3 and a half pints of juice. Top it up with cold water if necessary. Add all the orange peel.

Next bash your cardamom pods a little (just enough to crack the pods) in a pestle and mortar or with a rolling-pin, then tie them up in a little square of muslin. Pop this in the pan.

Measure out your sugar on the scales by first adding around 100g of brown sugar, and then topping up with white granulated sugar to around 1.6kg. This is just a starting weight, you will probably need to add more depending on how sweet or tart you like your marmalade to be.

Now place the pan and its contents over a gentle heat and as soon as it starts to warm through tip the sugar into the pan and stir to dissolve. According to Delia, at this stage you must not let your marmalade boil otherwise the finished marmalade will be sugary, so using a large wooden spoon, stir the marmalade, keeping the heat gentle, until all the sugar crystals have fully dissolved.

Once all the sugar has completely dissolved, taste the mixture – if it’s too tart for your taste add a little more sugar stirring again until it is completely dissolved (try 200g at a time). Once your happy with the sweetness, bring the marmalade to a rolling boil and leave to bubble away for a couple of hours or so to let the flavours deepen. In the meantime, sterilise your jars by whichever method you prefer (I tend to use the method in this post). Also, put a couple of plates in the fridge ready for when you want to test for a set (more on this later).

Once the marmalade has been bubbling away for a while (or if you’re using a thermometer, once the temperature reaches around 220°F) you can start testing for a set. A good tip when watching out for setting point is also that just before the marmalade reaches setting point it moves from forming thousands of tiny bubbles to a much more gloopy boil. Anyway, to test to see if your marmalade has set, spoon a teaspoonful of marmalade on to one of your chilled plates from the fridge. Allow it to cool for a minute back in the fridge, then push it around a little with your finger. If a crinkly skin forms, it has reached setting point. If not, continue cooking and do keep testing at 15-minute intervals.

When it has set, leave the marmalade to cool for 30 minutes or so (this prevents the fruit from rising to the top in the jar) before ladling into your warm sterilised jars. Seal the jars while they are hot and leave to cool. Enjoy as soon as possible with butter on toast!

Someone on twitter told me that if you put the marmalade-slathered-toast under the grill for a minute or so then it all goes even more sticky and lovely, so I might have to give that a go (thank you person, whoever you were).


Filed under Orange, Preserves, Recipes

11 responses to “A begrudgingly benevolent bestowment: Cardamom and seville orange marmalade

  1. Oh, cardamom in marmalade – genius! It elevates it from something very familiar to something exotic, redolent of 1001 Nights or the Rajput sagas. Lovely. Fantastic pics too.

  2. Becci is a fantastic food photographer it has got to be said :^)

  3. Stop, both of you – I’m blushing!! Glad you like the addition of cardamom, Aaron. It’s pretty subtle in this recipe, but you could easily up the ante to your own taste.

  4. Sorry to make you blush further but that is a golden blog post – the photos are so inviting I can almost smell the citrus sweet tang. Mmmm. Lovely.

  5. *blushes furiously*

    Thanks lady 🙂

  6. Hello! Oh my. I like the look of this lots. And lots. Particularly all those lovely threads of peel. I like that you tend towards the tart- me too 😉 Love the addition of the cardamom. Looks positively swoon-worthy.

  7. Fantastic flavour combination, cardomom and marmalade sound like they were born to go together. Very atmospheric pictures too.

  8. @Tori – thanks very much. Tartiness is right up my street!

    @Sarah – yeah, the addition of cardamom was a suggestion from the very wonderful Terre-a-Terre restaurant. I think it works really well, though I’ve kept it pretty subtle in this recipe. I reckon you could amp it up a bit. Glad you like the pics! 🙂

  9. I do make marmalade and love home preserves. I can’t wait to try this new twist. The cardamom sounds awesome.

  10. Yummy, great photos and all are drool worthy!

  11. Hannah

    My orange and cardamom marmalade is currently bubbling away on the stove… smelling and looking nice 🙂
    Love your step-by-step instructions for the not-so-experienced preserve makers amongst us!

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