It’s marmalade season! Nothing cheers me up on a cold January day as much as making marmalade. Although I can be a purest when it comes to marmalade, only using Seville oranges, that are bitter, sour, pithy and fabulous for a traditional marmalade – I love the addition of blood oranges and pomegranate juice in this recipe. Not only does it produce a fabulously rich red blood orange colour, it tastes amazing.
Seville oranges are an unusual variety of orange in that their flesh is so sharp, they taste more like lemons than oranges. Their skins are rough, thick and pithy, reducing the amount of flesh by about 25 % compared with a standard juicing orange. There are also numerous pips in the flesh. The skins are enormously aromatic with a fantastic amount of essential oils in them and taste incredibly bitter compared with other orange varieties.
Blood oranges, so called because their flesh is crimson (blood coloured), also have a distinctive flavour compared to other oranges. They have a stronger classic orange orange flavour with a hint of raspberries. The red colour develops during cold nights and will continue to develop in cold storage.
Of course you can obtain the juice from fresh pomegranates. However, if you want to save a bit of time, just buy pure pomegranate juice which should be available in your local supermarket. Make sure it’s not mixed with anything else (red grape juice can be a popular additive as well as other E numbers).
Pomegranate juice has a lot of water in it and as a consequence, one could add more sugar to make the marmalade set more quickly. I think this makes the marmalade too sweet. My trick is to reduce the pomegranate juice by at least two thirds, making it more concentrated and intensifying the flavour. This also keeps the sugar content lower and allows the marmalade to set more quickly. I did look into buying pomegranate syrups since they are more concentrated, however, they contain a lot of other things in addition to pomegranate, so I wanted to stay as pure as possible.
Blood orange and pomegranate marmalade
- 675 g Seville orange
- 325 g Blood oranges
- 675 ml pomegranate juice
- 2.5 l water
- 2 kg sugar
- Cut the oranges in half and juice them. An electric juicer makes light work of this but is not essential. Save the pips and any pith that doesn't drain through a seive and place it in a muslin cloth
- If there are any reminents of the orange flesh in the orange halves, spoon it out and reserve it in the muslin cloth with the pips.
- Cut orange halves in half again and then finely slice the peel as you would want it in the marmalade. I like finely cut, around 2-4 mm in width ( and a quarter orange length).
- Place the peel in a large saucepan and top up with 2.5 liters of water and the orange juice.
- Bring to a gentle simmer for 2 – 2½ hours. The peel is cooked when you place pressure on it between your thumb and fore finger and it splits in half easily.
- Meanwhile, boil the pomegranate juice until it is reduced by ⅔. Add the reduction to the cooked orange peel.
- Place 3 – 4 plates in the freezer to cool, in preparation for the wrinkle test (to test when the marmalade is at setting point).
- Dissolve the sugar in the orange peel solution. Bring to a hard boil for 20 minutes. Take a teaspoon of the liquid and place it on a plate from the freezer. Place the plate in the fridge for 2 – 3 minutes. Run your finger through it. If it wrinkles it will set. If there is liquid below the wrinkled part of the marmalade – it will be a soft set. If you like a firmer set keep boiling and testing until there is no liquid below the wrinkle. It may take up to 40 minutes depending on how much liquid evaporated during the first simmer.