The streets of the Spanish city of Seville near the Mediterranean are lined with orange trees, the branches glowing with tart golden fruit, perfect for marmalade. Their season is late winter, and one year Leo and Grandma spent a whole afternoon thinly slicing the fruit while looking out over the snow-covered landscape of north London.

Makes 8 10-oz jars
7 lb/3.2 kg Seville or other tart oranges
1 lemon
2 pints/2 liters water, more if needed
4 lb/1.8 kg sugar
Eight 10-oz jam jars

1.Wash the oranges and lemons. Halve them through the equator, then cut them crosswise in ¼-inch/6-mm slices. Take out the seeds, put them in a cheesecloth bag or an empty teabag and add them to the sliced fruit (the seeds are full of pectin and help the marmalade to jell) with enough water just to cover. Cover tightly and chill the fruit overnight.

2.To sterilize the jam jars, run them through the dishwasher without any soap, letting them dry. Set them aside, mouth upwards, on a wooden board. Transfer the oranges and water to a preserving pan or other large pan, bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flesh starts to collapse, 10-20 minutes.

3.Stir in the sugar and bring the marmalade back to a boil, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Boil it is rapidly as possible, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Boil it as rapidly as possible, stirring often and holding the pan handle firmly, 20-30 minutes depending on the oranges. It is ready when the juice forms a double drip when a little is lifted on the spoon, called the jell point. The temperature on a sugar thermometer will register 218˚F/106˚C. Time depends on the juiciness of the oranges and may take a half hour or more.

4.Let the jam cool 5 minutes, then pour into the sterilized jars and tap them on the counter to remove air bubbles. Seal at once while still hot, the lid forms a vacuum. If the marmalade hasn’t set fully, take the original pot plus ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water, boiled to a double drip, this nicely fills the original pot again, 8-10 minutes cooking time.


The best part of this recipe is shaking the spices together in a plastic bag – Grandma has a drawer in her kitchen with 47 cans of different spices, all labelled by Leo.

In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon with 2 teaspoons each of ground nutmeg and ginger, 1 teaspoon each of ground cloves, ground black peppercorns, and curry powder. Put the spices in a small bag, seal it carefully, and shake all together for a powder for at least a minute. Stir the spices into the oranges with the sugar and bring the marmalade back to a boil. Drizzle a bit onto a plate to cool it and taste, adding more spices if you like.