Oranges prize: Skye Gyngell reveals how to make your own marmalade

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A traditional, bitter marmalade is as easy as toast– so why not try some lemon, grapefruit or bergamot?

Anyone who makes their own marmalade at home will know that every jar tastes slightly different – and that everyone has their preferred style. Mine is thick-cut, as bitter as possible, sticky and dark in colour.

Marmalade only gets better over time – its colour deepens and its flavours mellow – it can last for well over a year if properly kept; that does not necessarily mean in the fridge, though I do prefer to eat it slightly chilled myself.

Seville oranges make the best marmalade, in my opinion, because they are sharp in flavour, but almost any citrus can be used. Obviously the flavours will differ, but they make for an interesting change. Try grapefruit, lemon or blood oranges – the marmalade will be sweeter, lighter and more gentle, but delicious nonetheless.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com

Seville orange marmalade

To make good marmalade, it is essential to use fresh fruit. Last year, one of the cooks in the kitchen at Petersham made enough of the stuff to last the whole year – enough, in fact, that we were able to give it away; it makes a lovely present, so make more rather than less! I've not given exact quantities here, but you will see why as you read through the recipe.

Several Seville oranges
Water
A little salt
Caster sugar

Thinly slice the oranges – leave the skin on but discard the pips. Boil a large pot of water, add the slices and cook for two minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to steep for 24 hours.

The following day, add the fruit and water into a preserving pan or stock pot one cup at a time. Bring to a boil, add the salt and to every cup of fruit, add a cup of sugar. Return to the boil and cook for 30 minutes.

To test whether the marmalade is set, place a flat plate into the fridge to chill. Spoon a teaspoon of marmalade on to the chilled plate and, if it is ready, it will immediately set like sticky jelly. Remove from the heat and spoon into hot sterilised jars.

Bergamot and cedro marmalade

You can make marmalade from almost any citrus fruit. One of our suppliers gave us a bag of bergamots – a citrus somewhere between an orange and a lemon, deep orange in colour with a distinct smell. Cedro is used in Italy to make the lovely candied peel found in panettone – its skin and pith are thick and creamy. You can alternatively use unwaxed Amalfi lemons, which are much easier to find. The resulting marmalade is pale in colour.

Several bergamots and cedros
Water
A little salt
Caster sugar

Slice the fruit into pinwheels, removing any pith. Boil a large pot of water, add the fruit and cook for five minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the water. Weigh the fruit and to each 250g/8oz, add equal amounts of caster sugar, a small pinch of salt and 300ml/10fl oz of water. Place over a high heat and bring to a boil. Stir to help dissolve the sugar and turn down the heat to medium. Cook for 35-40 minutes until the setting stage. For how to tell if it is set, see recipe to left.

Spoon into warm sterilised jars, allow to cool and set aside in a cool, dark place for at least a week before using.

Orange cake

Serves 8

1 large Seville orange, peeled and segmented
2 eggs
125g/4oz softened unsalted butter
225g/71/2oz caster sugar
225g/71/2oz self-raising flour
200ml/7fl oz Seville orange marmalade (see recipe, above)

Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas5 and butter a 20cm cake tin with a removable base. Combine all the ingredients except the marmalade in a food processor and blend for two minutes. Pour into the tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 30-35 minutes. Cool for five minutes before turning out on to a wire rack. While the sponge cools, warm the marmalade in a saucepan with two tablespoons of water. Slice the cake and spoon over the marmalade. Serve with thick cream.

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