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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Orange Marmalade

Last year, around this time, I decided to learn how to make orange marmalade. I Googled for a recipe, and to my great joy, I found the January 2010 Citrus Can Jam Roundup. When I found the Can Jam, I found tons of great recipes and ideas. I also found a growing canning community, plus all their foodie friends. As they say, the rest is history.

I admit that I had some misses when first learning to make marmalade. My first batch was bitter and never set. I dumped it out, reboiled and re-canned it and it came out hard and rubbery. My lime and ginger marmalade turned out so bitter as to be inedible. But, there were also (eventually) successes. In fact, this little blog's inaugural entry shared one such success - Lemon, Pineapple and Rosemary Marmalade. Now I'm sharing my version of orange marmalade. The recipe is a bit fussy, but these ingredients and methods have given me results that I love. I will try to be as clear and concise as I can, so if you are embarking on canning and this is one of your first experiments, you will benefit from my errors.

The methodology for this recipe comes from Food in Jars Three Citrus Marmalade. Food in Jars is a great place for a new canner to start. The oranges you see here come from our local farmer's market and from my friend Carol's tree. She generously gave me two big shopping bags full of these beautiful organic oranges. Today I made three batches of orange marmalade and one of orange, pineapple and ginger marmalade. I only used about half of the oranges I had on hand!
This recipe uses 10 medium to large oranges and the juice of one lemon. I have a tool that peels a thin layer of zest and cuts it into strips at the same time. Once I've removed the zest, I cut away the peel and cut the orange segments away from the membranes. By avoiding using any of the white part of the orange, my marmalade ends up tasting more like candied orange peel than the usual bitter marmalade.
Ten large oranges yields a little less than two cups of zest strips and about 4 cups of juice and orange segments.
The orange zest is simmered with 6 cups of cold water, then drained, reserving the liquid. The Segments and lemon juice are combined with the softened zest and up to 4 cups of the simmering liquid. Six cups of sugar is added, then it's time to boil.
It may take about 40 minutes of boiling for the marmalade to reach the right consistency. I use my stirring spoon to make a little rest for my thermometer. An accurate thermometer is a great tool, but I have found that many thermometers can be unreliable. Once my marmalade reaches 222 degrees, I begin to watch it carefully and will stir and retest. I also test with a frozen saucer. Whenever I start a preserving project, I put all my saucers in the freezer. When the preserve comes up to 222, scoop out about a teaspoon and place it on the frozen saucer. Let it cool for about a minute and run your finger through it. For a jelly, it should wrinkle a bit. I've had enough hits and misses that I'm getting pretty good at recognizing the right texture. For my thermometer this is around 224 degrees. So use the thermometer as a starting point, but test the texture for yourself.
Here is my bright and fragrant orange marmalade. I'll be sharing some variations in the near future. Enjoy!

Orange Marmalade
10 medium to large oranges
1 lemon
6 cups sugar

Prepare jars and boiling water bath.

Remove zest from oranges and cut into thin strips. The zest from 10 oranges should equal a little less than 2 cups, not packed. Place the zest and 6 cups of cold water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid.

Cut remaining pith away from oranges. (You may want to get your knives sharpened before this project.) Cut orange segments away from the membranes. Collect juice and segments in a large measuring cup. Add the juice of one lemon. You should have just about 4 cups of juice and segments. Do not worry if it is slightly less.

Place juices, segments and softened zest in a large stock pot. Add up to 4 cups of the zest simmering liquid. If it has reduced down to less than 4 cups, just add what is left. Add 6 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. You need not stir the marmalade constantly, but keep a close eye on it. Set up your thermometer and check it periodically, whenever you stir. (I usually break down the oranges for the next batch while this boiling takes place.) Once the marmalade reaches 222 degrees, stir and keep checking that the temperature remains at 222 degrees. Check the set by placing a teaspoon of the marmalade on a frozen saucer. After 1 minute, push the marmalade. If it wrinkles or mounds up, it is ready.

Remove the marmalade from the heat and stir for at least two minutes. This is very important for the distribution of the bits of zest and orange. You will see the bits begin to sink.

Carefully fill hot, prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rims and seal. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and wait 5 minutes. Carefully lift jars out of the water and place on a towel lined tray. Allow to cool over night. Check for seals and label.

Makes four 12 oz. jars.

PS. Really hoping to join the 2011 Can Jam!!!

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