Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Splendid Seville oranges

It is amazing how childhood memories shape one’s actions in later life. When we planned the garden at Towerwater, happy times with our parents and what they enjoyed, were a constant in deciding what to plant.

Keith’s dad loved guavas and so we planted pink and white guavas. My mom loved pomelos (grapefruit) and so we decided to plant a pomelo in the citrus row.  The pomelo we planted turned out to be a Seville orange. I could not take the tree back to the nursery at that point and so we decided to keep it.

My mom enjoyed the Seville oranges nonetheless and was the sole beneficiary of the fruit for a couple of seasons. The early days at Towerwater were intensive building and restoring times. There was no time for preserving fruit etc.

Candied Seville orange peel
After the bulk of the restoration work had been completed, we could shift our attention to the garden produce. That was when the Seville came into its own as a prolific supplier of oranges for the best marmalade.

The Seville is rich in oils and high in pectin. The process of making marmalade is a feast for the senses. From the cutting of the peels, with a burst of fragrant oil over one’s hand, to the aroma of the hot cooking peel drafting up the chimney.
We are now blessed with a constant supply of different flavoured organic marmalades like ginger, rooibos, Van der Hum, whisky and many more. The prolific supply of Seville oranges required additional recipes. We started by making Seville orange cordials. The cordials are so refreshing and it is as close to drinking marmalade as one can get.

Seville orange peel cooking in sugar syrup

I love candied citrus peel. Especially when they have been dipped in a dark chocolate. After I found a recipe for candied Seville orange peel, I decided to make some myself. 
Candied Seville orange peel drying
I discovered that candied fruit dates back to the 14th century. I found a recipe from the Le Ménagier de Paris, a French medieval household guidebook dating from 1393 which describes a woman's proper behaviour in marriage and the running of a household. It has been translated into English by Janet Hinson.

“To Make Candied Orange Peel, divide the peel of one orange into five quarters and scrape with a knife to remove the white part inside, then put them to soak in good sweet water for nine days, and change the water every day; then cook them in good water just till boiling, and when this happens, spread them on a cloth and let them get thoroughly dry, then put them in a pot with enough honey to cover them, and boil on a low fire and skim, and when you believe the honey is cooked, (to test if it is cooked, have some water in a bowl, and let drip into this one drop of the honey, and if it spreads, it is not cooked; and if the drop of honey holds together in the water without spreading out, it is cooked;) and then you must remove your orange peel, and make one layer with it, and sprinkle with ginger powder, then another layer, and sprinkle etc., and so on; and leave it a month or more, then eat.”

I have to admit I did not follow this recipe but a quicker and easier one from The Guardian by Bee Wilson.

Candied Seville peel
With their thick pith and high pectin content, Sevilles make far better candied peel than sweet oranges.
Seville oranges 450g
sugar 250g
water 125ml

Slice the peel from the flesh, being sure to keep as much of the pith as possible. Slice it into strips. Put in a saucepan of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat, three times. Now dissolve the sugar in water over a low heat, add the peel and cook gently for around an hour or until the syrup is mostly absorbed. Pick the pieces out with tongs and drain on a rack over a dish. Don’t throw away the remaining syrup. Dan Lepard calls this “orange drippings” – a cook’s perk to be used like golden syrup.”

Next year, I will try the dusting of ginger on the peels because that appeals to me (no pun intended).

Tender stem broccoli with Seville vinaigrette
In the same article in The Guardian, Bee Wilson gives a recipe for Seville vinaigrette that I had to try for lunch over tender stem broccoli. Verdict, it is delicious.

“Seville vinaigrette
 Good with steamed broccoli, with fish, with almost anything. More subtle than a lemon dressing.
Seville orange 1
Extra-virgin olive oil 80ml, a fruity one
Maldon salt

Zest half the orange and whisk this together with the oil, 10-20ml Seville juice and a hefty pinch of salt. Taste and keep adding juice as needed.”

I am happy that I have found more delicious ways to use our fragrant organic Seville oranges. My quest for next year will be to explore the savoury uses of the Seville oranges. 


  1. So interesting! A quest for, and achievement of, the "five quarters". Well done!

  2. All sounds delicious and lovely pictures as always!

  3. Soooo lekker om altyd jou blog te lees - dankie Thys. Jy moet asb.begin met 'n kookboek van al die organiese lekkernye wat julle maak. Ek staan eerste in die ry!!!

  4. Thanks John good to hear from you.

  5. Dankie Ann ek is bly jy geniet die blog. Hopelik is daar binnekort 'n kookboek . :)


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