Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Seville Orange Marmalade 2012

Batch #1.  Bright and light although fruit rose abit during setting.

I almost missed the Seville oranges this year!   I don't know if it's my imagination but they seem to be coming earlier -- when I started making it in about 2004 it was "end of January, early February."  When I went looking for them this year on January 23rd (thinking I'd be early) I was told I'd pretty much missed them.  Yikes.  I love bitter orange marmalade and I started making it so I could make it as bitter-sweet as possible.

Anyway, this tasting post is not about almost missing the oranges but rather about the two batches I made this year from very different recipes.  The first was from the one I've using from the beginning (with my own naive changes) which is from Edna Staebler's More Food That Schmecks.  

All the juice, fruit and water is left to
sit overnight before boiling down.

I think of it as a traditional Seville Orange Marmalade recipe because it calls for the final boiling (after you've added the sugar) to be brisk and full and go on for about 20 to 30 minutes until it reaches the magic 105C  -- which is (apparently) the setting point for the sugary mix.  This means, after it's cooled in the jars it will be firm or at least firmish rather than liquid.

OK, all cards on the table, for years I've been using more than the recipe's called-for 11 oranges and trying to add less sugar so it wouldn't be tooth-zinging sweet. What I realised this year is that I should just follow the recipe and that it's not good to try and double or increase it.  There are optimum amounts for making it.

14 gorgeous bright jars of marmy.

So I followed the recipe but couldn't help reducing the sugar just a bit. I still had great trouble getting it to the 105C set point but after putting a lid on my big old stock pot and it boiled over making an incredible mess of the stove -- it seems to have reached temperature.  Although a loose set, it did at least set when cooled.  I didn't have to reboil it the next day and add lemon juice (for pectin) and more sugar.

But the big news is ...that with the leftover six Seville oranges I subsequently tried a new recipe for Dark Chunky Seville Orange marmalade which, instead of a fast hard boil, calls for a long slow three to four hour bubbling simmer.  This resulted in an incredibly tasty, rich, spicy tasting brew.  I think I'm a convert.

Batch #1 and Batch #2 -- different and delicious!

While both are, frankly, incredibly delicious and have wonderful bitter-sweet citrus flavour they are quite different.

Batch #1 is light in texture in the mouth and the flavour focuses more on the tangy citrus zing of the oranges -- light and bright with a great mouth puckering zip one expects from Seville Orange Marmalade.  It's also a most beautiful bright, clear jelly, isn't it?

Batch #2, on the other hand, is thicker in the mouth -- like honey or treacle -- and has a rich full orange flavour with almost cinnamon or clove spicy notes.  This must be something the Seville orange gives up over the longer cooking time of this recipe.  It still has the requisite bitter-sweet Seville Marmalade profile but it's not as aggressive on the tongue.  And, of course, it's much darker in colour -- due to the longer boiling too.

Batch #2 has a thick treacle-like texture.

Oh my.  I do love both of them but for the rich, spicy notes, as well as the easier cooking method, I think I'll stick to the Dark Chunky Seville Orange recipe in the future.

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