Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

February Gold

I always think of Seville oranges as February gold - a bright reminder of sunnier climes on dark February days. These bitter oranges had their origin in South East Asia and had been brought as far as Arabia by the 5th century and by the end of the 12th century they were being cultivated in the area around Seville in Spain and came to be known as Seville oranges. For 500 hundred years they were the only orange growing in Europe.

The oranges finally prepared and ready to simmer slowly to soften the peel. This makes the kitchen smells wonderful - bitter oranges are much more fragrant than sweet oranges.

Citrus aurantium is the Latin name for the tree that produces bitter oranges and it is not only the fruits that are used. The flowers are the source of the essential oil known as neroli and they are also distilled to give us orange flower water which is used in making cakes and desserts.

The distilled essence of bitter orange is mixed with a blend of cognacs to give us one of my favourite liqueurs - Grand Marnier. It is the secret ingredient of my fresh fruit salads - when they were small my children always used to ask for 'more juice please mummy'!

Some hours after I started we finally have the finished product! Marmalade was allegedly first invented in Dundee in Scotland in the early 1700s by a lady called Janet Keiller - whether this is actually true or not it is a fact that the first marmalade factory was built by the Keiller family in Dundee in 1797.


PAT said...

Wonderful post, Rowan! I enjoyed reading the history! I love marmalade. Yum!

hippymummy said...

I've learned something new again today, thanks for that Rowan. i didn't know marmalade started in scotland either! Looks like you've been busy at it, i love that satisfied feeling you get when you've completed a task like this - or even better if my Mam's made bramble jam for me! That one is the one i can't get anywhere close to her on, methinks she has a secretrecipe that she's not sharing with me! *smiles* xXx

Granny Sue said...

Oh yum. My mother loved marmalade, the more bitter the better. Yours looks so lovely. I seldom if ever see Seville oranges in this part of the US; we're too rural I suppose and not many people here like marmalade or even know what it is. But your post reminded me of my mother, and hot toast spread with butter and rich orange.

Gracie said...

Orange marmalade, how british! And we have one thing in common, Grand Marnier.....
Gracie at

Thimbleanna said...

Great post Rowan -- thanks for the information. I don't think I've ever had marmelade -- although, maybe when I was young as my mother loves it!

Jenny said...

I've loved marmalade since I was a girl, although it's been years since I've had any. I'm sure yours is better than of the jarred stuff I've had! Another interesting post. :o)

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Toast and marmalade, with plenty of PG tea, my idea of the perfect supper!

Sheila said...

I imagine the aroma of the oranges while this is cooking is wonderful.
My favourite is ginger marmalade, but I think it should really be called a conserve.
When we were in Seville we commented on all the orange trees planted in the city, and were told that all the oranges went to Britain for marmalade.

Rosie said...

We made our supply of marmalade a couple of weeks ago - I too love the citrus smells in the kitchen whilst it is boiling and the satisfying sight of the freshly filled jars. I've really enjoyed reading about the history of Seville oranges and their uses. Toast with marmalade is one of my favourite comfort foods:)

hen said...

Rowan, I made marmalade for the first time the other day! Having never liked marmalade I didn't expect to absolutely adore the marmalade I made!

Shammickite said...

I make marmalade from Seville oranges every year, and this year was no exception! I love the tangy aroma while it's simmering, and the finished product is oh so yummy on home made toast in the moring!

miss*R said...

I would love to make marmalade or even jam but I never get around to doing it.. but this morning I craved raspberry jam so I guess i will just have to go buy some

Rowan, I am finally tracking down old favourites since I lost most when I switched to new computers.. so here I am.. so glad to finally catch up again xo

solsticedreamer~laoi gaul~williams said...

i can almost smell the oranges from here!

Ragged Roses said...

Would you believe I am sit here reading this post whilst eating the most delicious navel orange! I love marmalade but have never made it, I imagine the smell of it through the house must be lovely. A friend of mine who lives in France sent me yesterday an old card advertisement for Orange Flower Water, it is so pretty. Enjoy your marmalade

ICQB said...

Mmm! Looks yummy!