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Seville Marmalade: a wake-up call in a jar

This is a guest post from Katie Rawlings who attended our recent Seville Marmalade Making Course. If you couldn't make the course but still want to have a go at making your own marmalade, check out Christopher's easy to follow recipe for Seville Orange Marmalade!

I have just attended the Seville Marmalade Course and I can’t think of a better way of bringing some Sicillian sunshine into a very rainy January day in Bath. The day started with an introduction from Rachel Demuth, coffee and homemade biscuits, set in the stunning Georgian townhouse that houses Demuths Cookery School. I met up with the other students and we happily chatted about how far we had travelled ( two sisters all the way from Adelaide!) and excitedly addressed what we hoped we would get out of the day.

We met Christopher Robbins, our course tutor, who shared his fantastic knowledge about the magic and science of making marmalade. He explained the alchemy that goes into the pan, a result of many different variables that must be understood if you want to produce that perfect jar. Whilst listening, freshly baked sourdough bread was passed around with taster pots containing thick cut seville marmalade containing different heavenly flavours. The ginger marmalade was just too good. Seville oranges were then eagerly passed around the class and we were told how to choose these fabulous fruits, making sure we picked out firm, heavy and thin skinned oranges. A top tip is that Seville oranges freeze well whole, they won’t be in the shops for much longer so buy up now. Sevilles have a unique combination of a strong orange-flavour and a wonderful bitterness which once married with the sugar makes a perfectly balanced, sweet but pleasantly bitter preserve. Sevilles are bursting with pectin which when combined with the acid in the juice forms a jelly.

Next we juiced and cut our fruit, carefully removing pips ( a few might have slipped in providing authencity and a rustic feel to our finished product). Then it was over to the stove where we added water and waited for a fruit to soften. The cookery school soon filled with the most glorious scent of orange. Sugar was added and the magic all began to happen whilst we watched and stirred and anticipated the results. Christopher was on hand to help us determine when our marmalade had reached its optimium consistency. Christopher explained that people often get a marmalade that either is set like heavy clay, or is too runny. To set into a soft gel, the jam requires acidity, sugar and pectin at the right temperature. Marmalade making is definitely an art and Christopher guided us through this testing process with ease. To quote one students feedback "Christopher's knowledge, expertise and obvious love of marmalade was infectious.”.

We all made the basic Thick Cut Seville Marmalade and then in our groups added different flavours. Jars of Cardamon Marmalade, Ginger Marmalade and Muscavado Marmalade soon lined the work bench.

The day was superbly relaxing and informative. Included in the course was lunch which was cooked and prepared by Rachel Demuth. It was a chance for all of us to sit down and enjoy Vegetable Frittata and a most glorious Lentil, Roasted Squash and Beetroot salad, scattered with pomegranate jewels.

We all got to take away our home-made treasure in jars to be lovingly shared with our families and friends and enjoyed throughout the rest of the year. It’s a wake-up call in a jar and next weekend we have guests staying, so I will be serving Seville sunshine on toast.

This will become a winter ritual for me and I am certain I will never buy another shop bought jar of marmalade again.

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