So, you know how I've been going on and on about winter citrus and its restorative effects on the dying winter soul? Well, let me tell you. I have not been returning the favor--I've had a whole pile of Meyer lemons and blood oranges languishing in my refrigerator for weeks, barely hanging on to this mortal coil. It got to the point where my guilt was so significant that I embarked upon the unthinkable: I decided to make marmalade.
This was An Event for two major reasons:
- I've never made jam of any sort
- Despite being half English, I've never really had much of a taste for the stuff.
Things I learned:
- Using only the zest of the orange (discarding the pith and most of the rind) cut the bitterness factor significantly while still allowing the extreme...well...citrusness of the fruit to really shine.
- Marmalade is far more delicious than I'd given it credit for (though, admittedly, my marmalade may not be...well...traditional.)
- Many marmalade recipes call for a metric shedload of sugar. I believe that if you boil longer, you can get a similar effect without as much. I mean, 7 cups? Really?
- Canning and jarring and jamming is nowhere near as daunting as I'd once thought. All you need are a big pot, a pair of tongs, a spatula (for getting the filled jars in and out) and a good book to read while you stir the pot.
Blood orange marmalade
8 Whole blood oranges.
3 Meyer lemons, sliced thinly
Pectin (I used one pouch of Certo brand liquid pectin, by Sure-jell)
- Remove the outer layer of zest from the orange (if you want the marmalade texture, do this with a vegetable peeler; if you're lazy like me, you can use your microplane), taking care not to get too much of the bitter white layer beneath. Set the zest aside.
- Peel the oranges and then slice them thinly and chop them roughly. remove any tough pith or seeds that you encounter, but save as much of the juice as you can!
- Put the oranges and lemons in a deep saucepan; add the pectin and let sit for a moment.
- Add the zest.
- Add the sugar and then bring the contents of the pan up to a boil. Boil, boil, boil away (stirring as much as you can reasonably bear) merrily until it's thick, syrupy, and passes the spoon test.
- Get a bunch of canning jars.
- Wash them in hot, soapy water
- Boil them mercilessly for about 15 minutes, then remove them from the pot.
- Ladle your marmalade into your clean, sterilized jars. Gently seal the tops and boil them at a rollicking, high temperature (with at least 1 inch of water covering them) for 5 more minutes. Turn off the heat, but leave the jars in there until the water is lukewarm (I tend to leave the jars in the waterbath overnight). This should activate the vacuum seal on the jar, characterized by the sort of dip in the middle. If you don't have a vacuum seal by the time the water cools, remove the jar and try again with a new lid.