This week I am

still using the Seville oranges from the tree. We picked them in August, and stored them in the cellar. BP (Before Possums) they used to hang on the tree for months. Last year we netted the tree. This year we netted the tree, but the possums (or was it rats?) still got under the nets to eat the oranges. There was enough for them, and still a fair bit for us. We picked them. I made two batches of marmalade. I gave away a great bagful. I used the juice for basting roast chicken, roast lamb, and duck.

And still there are oranges. It’s a very productive tree. So I have been candying them. Or preserving them. I’m not sure what the correct name is. I did it last year, too, and have very slightly modified the process. This is what I am doing: I sliced the oranges quite thickly, and cooked them in water for 10 minutes. They cooled for half an hour, then I drained them. Then I took 800g sugar and a litre of water, brought it to the boil, stirred so the sugar was dissolved, and added the orange slices. They cooked for 10 minutes, then I turned off the heat and let them cool. I lifted them out, brought the syrup back to the boil, added the orange slices, cooked them for 10 minutes, then turned off the heat and let them cool.

I’ve actually lost count of the number of times I have done that.I think it’s five. I will make it six. It sounds fiddly, but it’s not because you can do all kinds of other things while the oranges are cooling in the syrup. I’ve been out for dinner, done some gardening, talked to friends, gone for a long walk, done a bit of writing. Candying oranges does not get in the way of anything.

When I deem them done – and the slices are looking lacquered, so I think they’re nearly right – they will be put into sterilised jars, covered with their syrup, and stored in the refrigerator until needed.

And what did I do with last’s years? Used the slices, finely chopped, in fruit cakes (so much better than the candied peel in small packs). I have chopped them finely and added them to whipped cream to go with flourless orange cake. I have added a slice or two to flourless orange cake. Finely chopped, they will go with strawberries and cream, as a play on strawberries Romanoff.

Seville oranges are never sweet. They always keep their bitter edge, which makes them so interesting with sweet things. I’m now thinking of using them in a sauce for duck. Or roast quail.

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