Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Why Buy Seville Oranges? This Expert Marmalade Maker Knows!

Veda Karlo, of New York City, is a long-time customer of Florida Fruit Shippers who enjoys making her own marmalade using our Seville oranges. She has become so interested in the hobby that she regularly enters her marmalades in contests, including the World’s Original Marmalade Awards contest, held annually in Cumbria, England.

Though marmalade can be made with other types of oranges, this famous, bittersweet orange preserve is traditionally made with Seville oranges for the best flavor. This type of orange is rarely found in stores, so online purveyors like Florida Fruit Shippers are the perfect way to buy. We had a chance to interview Veda about this fun and intriguing hobby.

Seville Oranges, also known as 'marmalade oranges' or 'bitter oranges'. Photo by A. Barra [CC BY-SA 4.0]

How much marmalade or jam do you make per year, and how many kinds do you typically make?
I make about 500 pints of jam in the summer, and an equal amount of marmalade in the winter. I make over 50-60 kinds in one year, since I often experiment with new combinations while making old favorites as well. I haven't sold a jar ever, so as to maintain my amateur status! Instead, I give the jars away to all my family and friends and donate the rest to charity sales.

Preserves travel really well, and mine go all over the world. Their long shelf life makes them an ideal gift. I have cases of jam and marmalade under every bed in my apartment, just waiting to be transferred to a new home.

How do you like to use your marmalades?
I have always loved baking, and the ideal partner for bread is jam or marmalade. Marmalade also makes an ideal topping for yogurt or cottage cheese, a great filling for cakes and cookies, and a good addition to ice creams and sauces. It also has savory uses, such as marinades or glazes. Seville orange marmalade also finds its way into some great cocktails.

Can you describe the Marmalade Awards?
The English love jam and marmalade, and the stores there offer hundreds of different varieties. Above all, they prize Seville orange marmalade. (Winston Churchill even allowed the transport of Seville oranges during the blockade in World War II, feeling them necessary to the morale of the war-torn English people.)

The Marmalade Awards and Festival, now in its 13th year, happens during National Marmalade Week. Only the English would go that far in celebration of marmalade! Over 3,000 entries make their way to Cumbria from over 50 countries. The judging and awards ceremony are held at the beautiful Dalemain historic mansion in Penrith.

My daughter and her husband moved to London two years ago, so we get to visit them three times a year. Over the last five years, I have been able to travel to the festival three times, where I have enjoyed meeting others who are interested in making good marmalade. The Q and A sessions are very intense, and the display of 3,000 jars is an impressive assortment, especially when you consider that this all really starts from just 3 basic ingredients: citrus, sugar and water. I am proud to say I have won gold at Dalemain for every category I have entered!

Tell us more about your Seville Orange, Cranberry and Horseradish Marmalade, which won the “Most Inventive” prize at the Marmalade Awards last year. How did you come up with this recipe?
Orange and cranberries are common companions for Thanksgiving, and horseradish is so very English, so I thought the three combined would make a great savory marmalade. It sounds like an odd trio, but the combination is quite distinctive and useful for cold cuts, roasts, and glazing vegetables.

Why do you use Seville oranges in your marmalades?
I thank those who have kept those Seville orange groves alive. I understand they make great root stock for other table oranges, but I like to think that I am getting the descendants of those brought over by the St. Augustine friars in the 1700s to Florida. Florida Seville oranges have the best and most authentic flavor and taste, compared to the CA oranges, which might be other varieties, though all are marketed legitimately under the name “Seville.”

Why do you choose to order your Seville oranges online?
I have lived on the upper east side of Manhattan for almost 50 years, which is not farm country. I do have access to spectacular local produce at the GrowNYC's Farmers Green market at Union Square, where I have shopped for many years and have volunteered on Wednesdays for over six years. However, we do not have citrus in NY state, except for a few trees in greenhouses on Long Island.

Ordering online is the perfect answer for everyone, no matter where one is living in the US. Few supermarkets carry specialty citrus, and even if they do, the fruit has been processed and is not at optimum freshness. I tried several options, but Florida Fruit Shippers has been the most reliable and cooperative in providing the citrus for my Seville marmalades. I order about 4-5 (4-tray) boxes each winter, and the company has been great about staggering the shipments, as I can only deal with one box at a time. Having the fruit delivered to my door is fantastic.

What advice do you have for someone making orange marmalade for the first time?
Seville orange marmalade is the ultimate marmalade, and requires some dedication to make a decent batch. For newbies, I would recommend reading Christine Ferber’s books and Rachel Saunder’s Blue Chair books. Making marmalade is easy, but requires some time.

The process is very flexible, and is best spread over several days so the project is not too daunting. I watch BBC series while I sliver the citrus. Then I put it aside to soak overnight to release the pectin and reduce bitterness, and cook it whenever it is convenient on the third day.

Do you have a marmalade recipe you can share with us?
Here is a simplified recipe for Seville Orange cranberry horseradish marmalade. It’s great for Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham!

Seville Orange Cranberry Horseradish Marmalade
2 lbs. Seville oranges (5-6)
2 lbs. fresh cranberries
1/2 lb. lemons (2)
1/4-1/2 lb. fresh horseradish root, depending on sharpness desired
4 lbs. sugar

  1. Wash and juice Seville oranges.
  2. Refrigerate juice.
  3. Cover skins with water overnight to remove some of the bitterness.
  4. Next day, drain off water and add more fresh water to cover skins and simmer for 2 1/2 hours covered, until very tender.
  5. Cool. Scrape off membranes and some of the white pith, and discard along with water.
  6. Cut cooked orange peels into fine strips or chop coarsely in food processor.
  7. In large pot, combine oranges, reserved orange juice, cranberries, 1/2 c. water and sugar.
  8. Stir to dissolve sugar.
  9. Bring to a full boil and stir occasionally until cranberries pop, about 4-5 min.
  10. Meanwhile, squeeze lemons.
  11. Grate peeled horseradish directly into lemon juice to preserve sharpness.
  12. Add to pot and boil another 2-3 min. until mixture reaches 220 F on a candy thermometer.
  13. Turn off heat, and skim off any floating scum.
  14. Pour into sterilized jars and cover with lids and rings.
  15. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes for long term storage, or just refrigerate for 2-3 weeks.
  16. Cool undisturbed for a day.

For more about Seville oranges, take a look at our blog on this fruit: The Magic of The Sour Seville. And if you’d like to try your own hand at marmalade (or one of the many other recipes that call for Sevilles), you can order Seville oranges from Florida Fruit Shippers.

Want to be notified when we post more articles? Sign up for our mailing list!

© 1996-2013 Vegetable Kingdom Inc., PO Box 530456, St. Petersburg, FL 33747 All rights reserved.
Florida Fruit Shippers® is a registered trademark of Vegetable Kingdom Inc.