Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Waste Not: Orange Marmalade

For those of you who received fruit baskets full of oranges this holiday season, you understand the dilemma of too many oranges per person ratio.

Oddly enough, it is easier for me to get Thing 1 and Thing 2 to eat the grapefruit than the oranges. I haven't figured out why yet but I'm sure it's part of a child's natural loathing for anything you think they might like. 

In truth, I am hardly upset they wouldn't eat more oranges. I annually make a large batch of orange marmalade and these oranges were perfect for the job, because they were thin-skinned.

just a few recipes
for this classic
Traditionally, orange marmalade is made with Seville oranges, which are less-sweet and have a thin rind. They are also harder to find, I think, so I often substitute Valencias for them. If you aren't sure what kind of orange you are looking at, see if you can find the tiny produce sticker, which often gives the variety.

Marmalade recipes abound. I have nearly 12 different recipes just for plain old orange alone here in my books. And of  course, there's the myriad of variations to include grapefruit, limes, lemons, clementines and tangerines. But over the years, I've come to rely on one specific recipe that came from Reader's Digest. 

Is it the easiest? No. But it gives the best results and highest volume in the end compared to the others. Because, really, who wants to stand over a hot pot of boiling syrup for 2 hours so you can have 4 jars of marmalade? That's stupid (*technical term).

This recipe is also a two-parter. First the fruit is prepped and then is sits alone in a cool place for overnight or 18 hours.  In which case, you need to plan ahead.

I am not saying making good marmalade is necessarily easy. What I am saying is that it's worth the work for a good end product.  For those of you who are new to making your own preserves, I'm sure it looks intimidating. For those of you who have already mastered jams and jellies, you'll easily recognize the process and be able to duplicate it.

18 hours before cooking time you will need 2 pounds of (or 4-6) oranges. It is important to weigh them out, as fruit varies widely.

Wash the fruit and dry them with a paper towel before slicing the oranges as thinly as possible. Keep the ends and the seeds and the juice. Don't throw anything out. 

little cheesecloth bundle

Put all the slices and juice in a large bowl. Put the end pieces and any seeds in a piece of cheesecloth and tie it up into a little bag. Put this in the bowl as well and add 4 cups of water to the fruit before covering with plastic wrap and placing in a cool place. (* if you prefer smaller pieces of rind in your marmalade, you can half or quarter the fruit before slicing it).

18 hours later

After soaking the citrus, add all of this, including the cheesecloth bag to a large, high sided pot. 

Before you ever turn on the heat, make sure all of your other equipment is ready. Your jars should be clean and warm, your rings and lids should be nearby, your water bath canner should be full of hot water.

Now, to the pot add the juice of 3 lemons (or a generous half a cup of juice),  Also, measure out 8 cups of sugar and have it in a bowl nearby.

Are you wondering where the pectin is? Well, it's in the peel of your oranges. The skin and seeds are high in natural pectin so we will be boiling it out of the fruit to thicken your preserves without using a commercial pectin. This stuff is about as pure as you can get.

Bring the mixture up to a simmer, not boil and continue-without stirring and uncovered-- to simmer for 30 minutes over a lowered heat. You are not trying to boil off all your water (that's actually the last thing you want to do). You are softening the fruit more and extracting the pectin. 

add in all the sugar at once
and stir, baby, stir
After 30 minutes, remove the cheesecloth bag and discard it. Add the sugar and stir it in until it dissolves. You will need to raise the heat at this point because you want the liquid to come to a boil, but don't crank it to high because it can boil over. You want a steady boil that continues even as you stir is slowly. The stirring will prevent the marmalade from scorching or burning (which would ruin the batch). 

I strongly suggest at this point that you eliminate any distractions you can because this stuff is old school and you need to pay attention.  

the liquid takes a light
amber color after

Continue to boil the liquid while stirring for 35-45 minutes.  You should notice throughout this point that the liquid has darkened slightly and the orange rinds have gained a kind of translucent appearance. The liquid itself will have a light amber color and a thickened feel as you stir. 

not ready-
the liquid ran 

Using a teaspoon and a small plate, take a drop or two of the liquid and drop it on the plate. Let it cool  before you run your finger through it. If the liquid is still runny when cool and the space you ran your finger through disappears, it needs to boil longer. Keep testing every 3-5 minutes after the initial 35 minutes have past.

ready, it holds
it's shape

If, however, you run your finger through and the liquid has gelled some and keeps the space, it is ready and will thicken properly in the jars as it cools. You can remove the pot from the heat.  Allow it to rest for 3 minutes before skimming off any foam that may remain. 

Begin filling your jars, being careful not to slop hot marmalade on yourself thanks to strands of orange rind. Also, be sure to completely wipe the rim of the jar to ensure proper sealing.

This batch will make 8-9 8-oz jars of marmalade. I always prepare two extra jars than what the recipe calls for just in case.

Proceed as usual when making preserve (as seen here), and boil for 10 minutes in the hot water canner.

Remove jars and allow to cool to room temperature before testing lids for proper sealing. If the lid doesn't move when pressed, it is properly sealed. 

Store in a cool, dark place. And jars that did not seal properly can be stored in the fridge until you use them up.


Principalk said...

That is talent...and you did this with Ady on your leg? Miracle worker.

Emily said...

Perfect timing! I have a tree that is dripping with oranges on my front patio. This is just what I needed.

Mrs. V said...

Emily, I'll be posting two more recipes this week for oranges so check me out again :)