Marmalade Time for the Silversmith

It’s marmalade time again folks! For those who have not done this before, but ‘quite like’ marmalade this short once in a year occasion must not be missed.

Seville oranges (essential ingredients) are in most good greengrocers, fruiterers, markets and supermarkets now! But will be gone in a couple of weeks, so hurry.

The first time you make marmalade it will probably take you the best part of 2 to 3 hours for a batch of 12 jars (10 to 15 minutes per jar). This includes assembling and preparing ingredients, washing, drying and warming the jars prior to loading with the amber nectar.

There are a handful of tasks in life one really must do for ones self, no matter how busy you think you are. Making  marmalade and Christmas puddings are just 2 of them. Some years ago, when the run up to Christmas was especially hectic in the workshop, our crystal supplier had delivered a batch of claret jug bodies very late – 2 weeks before Christmas. This meant long late hours and no time for the domestic essentials, consequently I bought the marmalade and puddings from a well known London retailer, which sports a string of Royal warrants in the belief this would suffice.

How wrong can one be, I shall never make that mistake again, I shall always make the time to produce these 2 items at least.

A batch of jam jars, a measuring jug and a jam funnel (available in good cook shops for a couple of pounds), can make for mess free loading.  A large heavy bottomed saucepan is also essential as the mixture dramatically rises in the pan as it boils rapidly.

The aroma, especially, while it is bubbling away is something else. The flavour, colour and consistency when it is in jars and cooled down are likewise.

If you are like me, you may have a problem pinpointing the setting point resulting in sometimes a slightly runny and sometimes a slightly stiff result. Personally, I quite like the variety. If you get it badly wrong however and it is really runny simply empty the jars back in the saucepan and boil for a bit longer. Conversely if too thick, again, empty the jars back in the saucepan, remelt slowly and then add a little boiling water.


1.5kg Seville Oranges

3.5lt Water

2 Lemons

3kg Preserving Sugar


Wash the fruit, cut in half and with a squeezer remove juice, pips and pith. Empty the juice into the pan and tie the remainder, pips etc into a piece of muslin.

Quarter the fruit skins and slice as thinly as possible and add to the pan.

Empty the water into the pan and bring to the boil, simmer for one to one and half hours until the peel is very soft. Remove the muslin bag, allow to cool slightly, then carefully squeeze as much juice as possible back into the pan. This contains the natural pectin from the pips which will help to set the marmalade.

Add the preserving sugar and stir over a low heat until dissolved. Bring to the boil, then boil rapidly until the setting point is reached. This can vary considerably but will probably be 20 to 35 minutes. Place a little hot marmalade onto a cold saucer and allow to cool. If it forms a skin and this wrinkles when pushed with a finger the setting point has been reached.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly then skim the surface and stir. Using the measuring jug, pour into jars previously warmed in the oven (without the lids) and then put the lids on, label and date.

Remember the best way to serve your marmalade is in a silver lidded preserve jar from JA Campbell Silversmiths.


John Campbell

Silversmith and amateur chef

The Silversmith.Never too old to learn!

Having made around 5000 silver salt & pepper mills throughout my career, in a variety of different shapes, I consider myself something of an authority on this subject. What one has to take into account though is that while I might be an authority on making silver mills I am obviously not as proficient with using and maintaining them on a day to day basis. I do however use one at least once a day everyday.

I discovered a few days ago, on topping up a mill with fresh peppercorns, that a mill kept full, or nearly full, produces far more ground pepper than a lesser full one. (A nearly empty mill grinds painfully slowly – even a JA Campbell mill fitted with a Peugeot mechanism.)

 The simple reason for this is that the weight of the corns pressing down on the grinding mechanism is much greater when the mill is full ,or nearly full, forcing more corns through per turn.

As with all spices there is no comparison between freshly ground and ready ground.

For information, even though we do not make a coffee grinder, the same applies to grinding coffee beans and you will find it easier in the beginning than at the end, but it is worth it for the fresh aroma of newly ground coffee beans.

In a recent silverware blog I gave information regarding how to clean silver salt & pepper mills and I highly recommend you read this to ensure you do not accidentally cause damage to the mill bodies or the mechanisms in the mills.

Whenever you use JA Campbell Silver remember to enjoy it, use it, do not keep it shut away in a cupboard, it improves with use and will give your friends and family pleasure as well as yourself.

John Campbell

Master Silversmith at JA Campbell