Now we are just a few jars away from the end of last fall’s blackberry jam. The strawberry jam is long gone.
When I was in England last summer, there was a pot of English marmalade on the breakfast table every morning. I love classic marmalade with its bright flavor and distinctive edge. I had been waiting to try my hand at making orange marmalade after Christmas was over, during citrus season.
Seville oranges make only a brief, mid-winter appearance in Seattle, and I had to do some calling around to track down my elusive prey. Once I had bought ten pounds of Seville oranges, three pounds of blood oranges, several lemons, and a gigantic bag of sugar, my heart sank a little at the thought of the work ahead of me. But the clock was ticking. Those ripe oranges on the counter would brook no procrastination. “You’ve thrown your hat over the wall,” Michael observed. Indeed I had.
The next three evenings were a blur of chopping and measuring and boiling. I opened the kitchen window to let the fragrant steam out, but the humidity was still intense enough to curl my hair. The house smelled wonderful. But everything got so sticky! The counters, my phone, my hair…my slippers stuck to the kitchen floor and came loose with a distinct peeling sound at every step. My hand stuck to the doorknob. The cat licked my clothes every time I sat down. And in case you wondered, blood orange juice really does look quite a bit like blood spatter when it’s all over everything.
Having never made marmalade before, I probably should have kept things simple and made one batch. But the oranges were in season, and I had four versions I wanted to try. Now, based on side by side comparison, I have a good idea of the relative merits of a long-boiled marmalade using the seeds for pectin versus a short boil with liquid pectin. Then too, there is the question of using the whole peel versus just the zest. And I was interested in the blood oranges for a sweeter, milder marmalade, as I wanted to share and not everyone would likely enjoy the bitterness of Seville oranges as much as I do.
After all of my hard work, I ended up with the infinitely satisfying reward of rows of glowing golden-orange jam jars sealing on the kitchen counter. Dark, chunky Oxford Marmalade—one batch with whiskey and one without, bright clear Seville Orange Marmalade, and rosy, sweet Blood Orange Marmalade.
It is all good. Very, very good.
The recipe I want to share now is the quickest one, the Blood Orange Marmalade. It can be made in a few hours, and produces a clear, jewel-like marmalade with ribbons of candied zest suspended snakily, beautifully, throughout the jar. This is a sweet, clean-tasting marmalade that is perfect for those who don’t take to the strong bitter sweet of more traditional marmalade, the very thing to convert to the marmalade-agnostic to the pleasures of hot buttered toast liberally slathered with orangey goodness.
Sweet Blood Orange Marmalade
(adapted from 175 Best Jams, Jellies, and Marmalades & Other Soft Spreads, by Linda J. Amendt)
- 12-14 Seville oranges
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 5 cups granulated sugar
- 1 pouch (3 oz) liquid pectin
- Prepare canning jars and lids and bring water in water bath canner to a boil. (For full instructions on canning and processing techniques, it is really best to get this, or another canning book).
- Using a zester, remove only the outer colored portion of the peel in very thin strips from 6 of the oranges. Coarsely chop the zested peel. Peel all of the oranges, removing all of the outer white pith. Cut the fruit sections away from the membrane (instructions on how to do this can be found here) and remove seeds. Discard the pith and membrane. Finely chop the fruit and measure 2 2/3 cups.
- 3. In an 8-quart stainless steel stockpot, combine chopped oranges, lemon juice, and baking soda. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently for 8 minutes. Stir in orange zest until well distributed. Cover and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Gradually stir in sugar. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 minute.
- Remove pot from heat and skim off any foam. Let marmalade cool in the pot for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Ladle hot marmalade into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar rims and threads with a clean, damp paper towel. Center hot lids on jars and screw on bands until fingertip-tight.
- Place jars in canner, making sure they are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. Process 4-ounce jars and 8-ounce jars for 10 minutes; process 1-pint jars for 15 minutes.
- Remove jars from canner and place on a wire rack or cloth towel. Let cool for 24 hours, then check seals. Wash and dry jars, label, and store in a cool, dry, dark location.