'Civil' oranges, as someone here keeps calling them, are in the shops. For the nth time in January over the years, I have bought a bagful with good intentions of making something with them. Not marmalade as we don't eat it in large amounts, but something that celebrates the incredibly short Seville orange season and makes the most of their acidity and flavour.
So this year I haven't thrown away a mass of oranges after seeing them reproach me for weeks every time I open the fridge, and I haven't thrown any away in September when needing to reclaim space in the freezer. No, this year, I made a huge orange meringue pie using this recipe and used up a box of oranges and 500g of sugar in the process. And the next day I slid most of it into the bin.
I hadn't quite realised just how incredibly sour Seville oranges are. Tongue-blowingly, bitterly sour, with an almost chemical aftertaste. (I now know where they get the Toxic Waste sourness profile from.) So it seems the only thing to do is add enormous quantities of sugar to offset the acidity, and then when you think you've added enough sugar you should probably add some more.
Even with half a kilo of sugar in the pie, it was still toe-curlingly sour (not surprising when you squeeze eleven and a half oranges to get 400ml of juice - way too much), and matters weren't helped by the horrible, gloopy, cornflour-thickened filling (I've always totally avoided cornflour as a thickener but decided to stick to the recipe - I shouldn't have bothered). But you live and learn. And I've learned that Seville oranges and sugar are probably the best partners, and that marmalade probably is the best expression of this Seville marriage. Well, there's always next year.