It’s that time of the year again, the air is fragrant with the smell of marmalade bubbling away in pots throughout the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Such a joy to be able to welcome students back to start the Spring Program. Seven nationalities this time, all super excited and eager to learn and determined to pack as much as possible into the next 12 weeks.
The majority have never made marmalade before, so they are delighted to discover how easy and rewarding it is. They are so proud of their jars, carefully lined up on the shelf side by side with the raspberry jam they learned how to make in the first week to slather onto Sweet Crunchy Scones.
So how about a marmalade-making session this week. The Seville oranges are in season, you’ll find them in your local greengrocer. Catriona Daunt and Willi Doherty of Organic Republic will have organic oranges on their stalls at Midleton, Bantry, Mahon Point and Douglas Farmers Markets — so worth the little extra they cost — see organic_republic on Instagram. Blood oranges have just arrived into the shops too, as have bergamots — how exotic do they sound and they also make a delicious marmalade.
Some like marmalade bitter and dark; others prefer a fresh citrusy flavour; or a dash of Irish whiskey; or a couple of dollops of black treacle for extra depth of flavour. I’m loving our blood orange and Campari marmalade — a twist on one of my favourite aperitif combos. Oranges are not the only citrus that make good marmalade: three-fruit marmalade can be made at any time of the year, e.g. orange, lemon and grapefruit. Kumquat marmalade is also a super delicious luxurious treat. And don’t forget clementine, mandarin or tangerine marmalade — all made in a similar way and now in season too.
Marmalade is usually made over two days. Juice and slice the oranges and leave them to steep overnight in a little muslin bag with the pips. Cook until the peel is tender. Heat the sugar but be really careful not to add it until the peel is really soft and the original liquid has reduced to between one-third and half of its original volume. If the sugar is added too early, it will harden the peel, resulting in a chewy marmalade — quite the challenge early in the morning.
Enjoy the process, make a cup of coffee, turn on some music and have fun slicing the rind. Yes, I know it’s easier to put it into a blender but the end result will be sludgy — it’s your call and of course will depend on your preference and your time. Either way, enjoy, you may even want to enter a pot of your marmalade into The Marmalade Awards before February 11, 2022. Check out
Sweet, crunchy scones
Fluffy and delicious, serve with a blob of cream and jam or marmalade
Preparation Time 10 mins
Cooking Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
450g (1lb) plain white flour
75g (3oz) butter
2 small free-range eggs
pinch of salt
25g (1oz) caster sugar
1 heaped teaspoon plus 1 rounded teaspoon baking powder (25g/1oz approx.)
200ml (7fl oz) approx. milk to mix
crunchy Demerara sugar or coarse granulated sugar for coating the top of the scones
First, preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F/Gas Mark 9.
Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and rub in the butter. Make a well in the centre. Whisk the eggs, put into a measure and add milk to bring the liquid up to 300ml (10fl oz), add all but 2 tablespoons (save to egg wash the top of the scones to help them to brown in the oven) to the dry ingredients in one go and mix to a soft dough.
Turn out onto a floured worktop. Don’t knead but shape just enough to make a round. Roll out to about 2 ½ cm (1-inch) thick and cut or stamp into scones.
Brush the tops with egg wash and dip each one in crunchy Demerara or coarse granulated sugar.
Put onto a baking tray – no need to grease. Bake in a hot oven for 10 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack.
Old Fashioned Seville Orange Marmalade
Even though my favourite is Seville orange marmalade, I make lots of recipes to suit my mood. Sometimes I crave a dark bitter marmalade, on other mornings a fruitier one hits the spot and gives me better results for marmalade tart
Cooking Time 2 hours 15 mins
Total Time 2 hours 15 mins
2 lbs (900g) Seville oranges
4 pints (2.3L) water
4 lbs (1.8kg) granulated sugar
The peel must be absolutely soft before the sugar is added, otherwise when the sugar is added it will become very hard and no amount of boiling will soften it. Wash the fruit, cut in half and squeeze out the juice.
Remove the membrane with a spoon, put with the pips, tie them in a piece of muslin and soak for 30 minutes in cold water. Slice the peel finely or coarsely, depending on how you like your marmalade. Put the peel, orange and lemon juice, bag of pips and water into a non-reactive bowl or saucepan overnight.
Next day, bring everything to the boil and simmer gently for about two hours until the peel is really soft and the liquid is reduced by half. Squeeze all the liquid from the bag of pips and remove it. Add the warmed sugar and stir until it has been dissolved.
Increase the heat and bring to a full rolling boil rapidly until setting point is reached, 5-10 minutes approx. Test for a set, either with a sugar thermometer (it should register 104°C/220°F), or with a saucer. Put a little marmalade on a cold saucer and cool for a few minutes. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it’s done.
Allow marmalade to sit in the saucepan for 15 minutes before bottling to prevent the peel from floating. Pot into hot sterilised jars. Cover immediately and store in a cool dry dark place.
NB: The peel must be absolutely soft before the sugar is added, otherwise when the sugar is added it will become very hard and no amount of boiling will soften it. To make whiskey marmalade, dd 6 tablespoons of whiskey to the cooking marmalade just before potting.
Marmalade oranges from Seville and Malaga are only in season from the end of December through to mid-February but panic not, they freeze brilliantly so stockpile some in your freezer and maybe some blood oranges too so when the fresh fruit begins to run out, you can make another batch of marmalade but this time use the recipe for frozen whole oranges.
Saturday, January 29, 2022 from 2 – 5pm
Focusing on optimum health from nature’s bounty. You'll learn how to make n atural beauty and cleaning products from your kitchen cupboard ingredients. Hedgerow medicine focuses on seasonal spring plants and much, much more.
Don’t miss this inspirational afternoon with Maria Walsh — the first of our new Wellness series.
Limited numbers, complying with all government and NPHET regulations. €85 per person. Recipes and tastings of all dishes included.
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