My kitchen is sooooo sticky right now. I’ve been making little holiday treats, and they involve a lot of sugar!
My friend Bob is 94. When you get to be 94, there aren’t many things that you need. So it’s always a dilemma figuring out what little gift to give Bob. But he loves orange marmalade, and I decided to make some. I’ve made it a couple of times, but not for a few years. I decided to try a slightly different method. I didn’t use any pectin to thicken the jam but relied on the natural pectin in the fruit.
Here’s how to do it. First, buy organic oranges if you can. Because you’re actually eating the skin and that’s where any chemicals get sprayed onto, it’s a good idea to get organic.
The most highly sought after orange marmalade is made from Seville oranges. Seville oranges are known for their bitter skin that gives orange marmalade its characteristic and authentic taste. Unfortunately, Seville oranges are verrrrrry difficult to buy in the U.S. Jeff and I went to Seville four years ago to visit his younger daughter who was spending a semester studying Spanish in Seville. We went in late April, and the orange trees had mostly just finished flowering. A few of the trees in the courtyard of the Cathedral in Seville still had a few blooms on the branches, and the smell was heavenly! We finally found a few trees with blossoms and oranges, but we didn’t get to eat the oranges, boo hoo.
I decided to buy a bag of organic Cara Cara oranges at Trader Joe’s while I was there shopping for other things. Cara Cara oranges are very pretty because the fruit inside is pink. Another good thing about them is that they’re seedless. Since the oranges were medium size, I used 5 of them. I washed them well with fruit & veggie cleaner. The next thing was to slice them thin. Jeff had given me a mandoline (a small device that’s like a guillotine on its side). I put in the blade and tried to slice the oranges, but no go. The mandoline just sort of mushed up the slices. Boo. I don’t know if I put the blade in correctly. I guess I still haven’t cracked the code on how to use it yet. So I resorted to a very sharp knife. I cut the oranges in half and sliced each half as thin as possible. I put them in a very large pot.
Next, I washed and zested a lemon, and added the zest to the pot. Then I juiced the lemon and added the juice to the pot.
I added 7 cups of water and turned on the stove and cooked the fruit till it boiled.
Then I added 7 cups of granulated sugar. (The rule of thumb is equal parts water and sugar.) When it came back to a boil, I shut off the gas, covered the pot and let it sit overnight. Sitting overnight is supposed to help remove the bitterness from the pith (the white part underneath the skin of the orange.)
Today I returned the pot to the boil. Then I turned the heat down to a simmer – which turned out to be a mistake!! After an hour, just about nothing seemed to be happening. So I turned up the heat and brought the mixture back to a boil, and I boiled it for about another 45 minutes, stirring often.
I skimmed off the foam that resulted from the boiling.
I continued to boil the marmalade till it became thick. In fact, I think I cooked it a little too long. I was so concerned that it wasn’t thick enough I let it go about 5 minutes too long. The way to test for doneness is to put a plate in the freezer till it’s cold. Take a spoonful of jam and put it on the plate and tilt the plate. If the jam turns thick as it runs down, it’s done. My did. I should have shut it off right then!
Then I filled the sterilized glass jars (that I had washed and then boiled along with the rings and lids) using a funnel and a ladle. Next I put a lid and a ring on top of the jar, tightened the ring but not all the way. Finally, I return the filled jars to the pot and boiled for 10 minutes to process. Done. This recipe made 5 half pint (8 oz.) jars and one 6 oz. jar.
So the orange marmalade came out quite dark but delicious. I tried some on a slice of my homemade rye bread, and it was great. It tastes like an English orange marmalade that tends to have a deeper color and flavor. I hope both Bob and Jeff like it!
Here’s the recipe:
- 5 medium or 4 large organic oranges, sliced thin and seeded
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 7 c. water
- 7. c. granulated sugar
- Wash the oranges and lemon thoroughly.
- Cut the oranges in half, and slice them very thin. Place in a large pot.
- Zest the lemon into the pot. Juice the lemon and add the juice to the pot.
- Add 7 cups of water.
- Bring to a boil.
- Add 7 cups of granulated sugar. Return to a boil.
- Shut off the heat, cover the pot and let it sit on top of the stove overnight.
- Next day, return the pot to a boil. Let it boil for at least 45 minutes stirring often. Skim off the foam that results from boiling.
- Check it by letting a spoonful of the jam run down a plate that has been in the freezer. If it is thick, it’s done. If not, keep boiling and stirring and try the doneness test again.
- Wash jam jars in hot soapy water, and then boil the jars, rings and lids for 10 minutes. Leave them in the hot water till you’re ready to fill them with jam. Fill the jars, put on the lids, put on the rings but don’t tighten them all the way. Return filled jars to the pot and process for 10 minutes. Remove from the pot and let them cool. Tighten the rings. Will keep for at least 3 months.
- Makes about 6 half pint/8 oz. jars.
Have you ever made marmalade? Would you ever try this? It’s not as hard as it looks 😉