Living in Barcelona

Making Marmalade from Spanish Street Oranges in Barcelona


During winter you can see the orange trees lining various streets in Barcelona bursting with decorative fruit. I know they are decorative, because during our first few weeks in Barcelona, while exploring the Hospital Sant Pau, Milos tried to eat one. Horrid and inedible. It was only recently that I found out that these oranges are in fact perfect for making jam or marmalade, and are actually Seville Orange trees.

I have seen my Mom making jam before, although I never paid much attention to the whole process. But I have found for some reason, perhaps because of my lack of garden in Barcelona, a need to make food out the various fruits found in parks of Barcelona. Don’t worry I haven’t turned into a “prepper” and am not eating roadkill or anything! Yikes!

( Although every time I see the Magpies flying around, I do wonder about pies, and making Mag-pies. It’s ok, I’ll wait for the Zombie Apocalypse before I try that! It’s also possible that I have been watching too many of the sensational documentaries broadcast on National Geographic taking advantage of the end of the world hype… but I digress)

I have successfully made preserved figs from fruits collected on Montjuic, and am in the process of trying to cure a jar of self picked Olives from a tree on Milos parents terrace. So I was pretty excited to come across a fallen branch of Oranges on my way to work, and felt that I may as well try my hand at marmalade.


I did some research, and it turns out that making marmalade is a rather involved process that requires all sorts of equipment. You know, thermometers, and muslin bags. I really just wanted to get stuck in, so I googled muslin bag alternatives, “forgot” about the thermometer and got to work on cutting up my oranges.

The most important part to making jam or marmalade is to get it to set! You need to either buy Pectin or make it yourself. I opted for the latter, as trying to figure out where to buy pectin in Barcelona did not sound fun, I still struggle to find Peanut Butter on a good day! Lemons pith, pips and the pips and pith from the street oranges I chopped up should have made enough pectin on their own, and I dutifully followed the recipe, separating them and boiling them in a bit of pillow case (my muslin bag).

Unfortunately the thermometer turned out to be instrumental in the creation of jam, and this is where, as a newbie marmalade maker, I messed up. You have to get the jam to boil to a specific temperature, with probably the right amount of pectin, for it to set. I’m guessing eventually you can do this without a temperature gauge, but on a first attempt I ended up with about 6 jars of marmalade syrup instead of jam. It almost set, and so I’m confident I’ll get it right eventually. There are apparently ways to reset the marmalade, and I may just buy a thermometer and try again. Otherwise for now, there are plenty of delicious cakes, breads and puddings that marmalade syrup would be a perfect ingredient to add a citrus flavour.

229965124692849103_B7AL4CtC_cimage source

I can report that my syrup tastes amazing! And next winter I shall be sneaking about the streets harvesting the oranges!
I followed this recipe, which I think is very good, its simple and easy to follow, my only advice: Get a Thermometer before you start!



5 thoughts on “Making Marmalade from Spanish Street Oranges in Barcelona

  1. Oh my goodness !!! Making marmalade from Seville oranges in Spain! Dream come true…. Totally Awesome! This is a tradition stretching down from your great grandmother who passed on the skills and I have her original (now about 100 years old) thermometer! However you don’t need a thermometer to make perfectly set marmalade: what you need to do is check for pectin at the beginning of the process. Here is your great granny’s recipe: wash the street dust (heheheh) off your oranges and cut them into quarters. Then slice off the pith and pip section and reserve (these contain lots of pectin). Now finely slice the fruit and put into a big pot and add enough water to cover the fruit. Put the pith and pips into a handkerchief (if you have one) or similar fine cotton material and tie up so they can’t fall out, and put into the pot too. Now bring to the boil and then simmer gently till the orange rind can be easily pierced with a match (ie it is now soft but still firm, it must not be mushy). Take out the pith and pips bag – let all the juice drip out into the pot so you don’t lose it. Now test for pectin: put 3 tablespoons of methylated spirits into a wine glass then after you have cleaned the spoon, add a tablespoon of the juice into the meth and gently swirl the glass a few times. Now pour the mixture onto a side plate. If there is a nice big lump of jelly (one lump) sitting on the plate with a little liquid around it, then you have brilliant pectin and you will now use a cup of sugar for each cup of cooked up fruit: measure how many cups of fruit ‘pulp’ you have and add as many cups of sugar to the pot. If you have two lumps of jelly, then there is not as much pectin and you use 3/4 cup of sugar for each cup of pulp. Stir the sugar into the pulp and gently heat till all the sugar is dissolved. Now a good trick from great granny Kate is that before you start cooking the marmalade wipe butter around the top few cm of the pot like you grease a cookie tray – this stops the marmalade boiling over and making the stove very messy. When all sugar has dissolved increase the heat till boiling rapidly. Boil till the Marmalade starts looking thicker (cant give a specific time cos it depends on how many oranges you have used) and start testing for the gel stage: you do this by putting a teaspoon of the juice onto a cold saucer, waiting a minute or two, to give it time to cool down, and then you ‘push’ it with your finger. If it gives a good set of wrinkles it is ready for bottling. Keep doing the wrinkle test every few minutes till it is ready then put into sterilized bottles (heated in the oven) and immediately put on the lids. Leave to cool and you will hear the very satisfying plop when the bottles do a vacuum seal. Voila!!! All done!!

    • Oh wow,
      I did the test with the cold saucers, but I think my amounts of pectin vs oranges was off… thanks for the recipe, I will see if I can manage again, otherwise next time we will have to make it together!

  2. Pingback: A Citrus Collective: « Brenden Blaine Darby

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