Sevilles! Looking at these orange beauties, I found myself humming Thin Lizzie’s 1976 hit song, The Boys are Back in Town. It briefly crossed my mind that I should be hearing Spanish guitar or clicking castanets of the flamenco dancer instead of classic rock. But, after a second or two of consideration, I reasoned that since the Seville oranges are back in town and it seems an appropriate tune to hum. Whatever the musical accompaniment, there is no doubt about it: it’s marmalade time.
According to my supermarket’s monthly magazine, there is a “frenzy” of marmalade making in kitchens throughout Britain. I’m not sure the authors of that bit of prose thought of it as hyperbole – or perhaps they just didn’t understand the meaning of frenzy. The picture the magazine painted had my (admittedly over-active) imagination conjuring up all sorts of absurd images of uncontrollable, wild cooks, eyes blazoning with intense concentration, stirring up cauldrons of marmalade surrounded by mounds of Seville oranges. A bit like Macbeth’s witches on the heath.
Compared to that image, the Seville-induced excitement in my kitchen has been rather tame. But, I got to play with my new heavy-bottomed stainless steel Kilner jam pan. The pan – looking suspiciously like a cauldron – is made by the British company, established in 1842, that specializes in preserving equipment. The researcher in me was intrigued to discover that it was the Yorkshire based Kilner company that produced the first glass preserving jars with self sealing lids, pre-dating the earliest patented American Mason jar by 16 years.
Not having any Kilner jars to preserve this year’s marmalade, I used my old American Mason jars – Ball & Kerr brands – that came with me on my move to this country. They are now labelled and satisfyingly line my pantry’s shelves. Although my marmalade is sweet with that distinctive bitter bite of the Seville and is chock full of lovely golden shreds of orange, I don’t think I’ll be entering it in the annual, international marmalade competition held in the heart of Cumbria’s beautiful Lake District at Dalemain Mansion in less than a month’s time. They take marmalade very seriously here!
An early crop that dovetails with the Seville and has particular significance in Yorkshire is rhubarb. Here in the rhubarb capital of Britain that means forced rhubarb from January to March. The combination of tender roasted rhubarb on a layer of Seville orange curd is a sweet delight in a fruit tart I made for an earlier post (Yorkshire Rhubarb Triangle). I also love Seville orange ice cream made from a recipe in Sam and Sam Clark’s second landmark book, Casa Moro, accompanied with a rhubarb compote.
A simple rhubarb-orange compote is made easily by placing rhubarb and sugar in a single layer in a shallow roasting tray. Roast in a moderate oven (350 degrees F.) for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. While still warm, blend in the Seville orange marmalade to the soft rhubarb and its juices. Serve cold with ice cream, yoghurt, panna cotta, a plain cake, or anything else that will complement the rhubarb and orange.
- 1-1/2 lbs. tender forced rhubarb, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Seville orange marmalade
What a good way to celebrate both the new rhubarb crop and the annual marmalade season!