February brings us the Seville oranges that make characterful marmalade – you'll need to be quick to get a batch in this season. The texture and sweetness are a personal thing and there is always discussion about the peel thickness.
Peel 1.3kg of Seville oranges into large pieces. Cut the peel into fine shreds (or thicker slices for a chunkier texture). Squeeze the peeled oranges into a jug, removing and reserving all the pulp and pips. Put the juice, chopped pulp, peel and 2.5 litres of water into a large pan. Add the pips, wrapped in a muslin bag. Leave to bubble gently over a low heat for 1 to 1.5 hours, until the peel is soft and translucent. Squeeze the pip bag and remove. Add 2.6kg of sugar and the juice of 2 lemons and boil hard for 15 minutes, until it reaches setting point. Skim off any froth. Drop a small spoonful on a cold plate and refrigerate: if a skin forms on the surface of the tester, then it is ready. If not, let the marmalade boil for longer. Test every 10-15 minutes. Ladle into sterilised pots and seal immediately. Makes 4kg.
Slightly underripe fruit sets better than soft. Use a food processor to slice the peel if you want nuggets rather than strips. Marmalade lovers should try and get hold of Anne Wilson's Book of Marmalade.
Any citrus fruit is good, especially lime and grapefruit. Three-fruit marmalade is worth a try. A few mint leaves add a zing. Ginger, grated and added with the sugar, gives a lift, as does a little whisky. A handful of walnuts is also a novel twist.