You have to really want to spend a couple of hours in the kitchen to make this. Standing, stirring and not much else. But it’s worth it. The intensity of the bittersweet oranginess is wonderful. Like sucking Cointreau through a straw … (I’m guessing …)
Many years ago we had a New Year trip en famille to Majorca and the orange trees were in full fruit. We did the little Tren de Soller trip up through the mountains and you could have reached out and plucked the oranges as you climbed through the orchards. So I really like making marmalade, for the nostalgia trip. But this year I thought I’d try something different. I used the recipe in Sophie Grigson’s book, ‘Feasts for a Fiver’ and it has worked beautifully. She warns vigorously against letting it thicken too much as it will turn to inedible curds. This would be most irritating but fortunately didn’t happen to me. Nevertheless, because you can’t see the water simmering under your bowl, it’s impossible to tell (a) whether the bowl is touching the water, and (b) how fast it’s simmering. And the instruction ‘… until it thickens…’ is always a bit stressful. I mean, how thick is thick? So there’s a bit of anxiety involved in staying on the right side of curds.
9-12 Seville oranges
550g caster sugar
225g unsalted butter
5 large eggs
Grate the zest off the oranges; squeeze the juice till you have half a pint; and put them together in a heatproof bowl with the sugar and the butter. Put the bowl over a simmering saucepan of water (see comments above – don’t let the water touch the bowl or it might burn). Stir gently till the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted.
Beat the eggs and strain them into the orange mixture. Stir constantly ’till it thickens’. Sorry, I can’t help you on that one except to say that she suggests 25 mins and mine took 35. Pour into sterilised jars and cover tightly. Keep for a month in the fridge – it goes off after that. Or give a jar to a very special someone whom you really really love, and make sure they eat it within the due date. It would be a pity to kill your nearest and dearest with the fruits of your labour. ‘Death by Orange Curd’ … maybe for future reference.
And I just want to say something about the grater. Last night I watched (again) ‘Vera Drake’, directed by Mike Leigh and starring Imelda Staunton (brilliant performance). It’s a wonderful film, somewhat unlike various other Mike Leighs in that it has a very clear storyline. But what a story, and told with such pathos. Anyway she had a grater identical to mine(you may have one too, it’s bog-standard supermarket issue). I won’t tell you what she used hers for, as it won’t enhance your appetite for Seville Orange Curd. But I do urge you to find out. If you haven’t seen the film and don’t know about it, see if you can guess. The accompanying items for her use are carbolic soap and a length of rubber tubing … Enjoy!