One of my favorite things about December in California is the proliferation of fresh oranges (and all citrus, really). I love them in their simplest form, eaten by hand in sections, but placing a whole slice of orange on a piece of toast is a little awkward. And as popular and exotic a gift as they were in Victorian stockings (a tradition my father continued), giving a person an orange is sadly not a very special thing anymore. Instead, you give them marmalade.
I love marmalade because it’s fun to say. And because I have a fondness for things with competing flavors: here, the sweet and the bitter. And because there’s something fascinating about seeing pieces of orange rind suspended in an orange jelly.
This was my first time making marmalade and there were some panicky moments. Most recipes call for supreming, or sectioning, the fruit and reserving the pith and seeds for their pectin. This took a lot of extra work, and a lot of the fruit was lost in the supreming, and my jam had not set after more than an hour following this method, so I gave up and added pectin. I don’t think that supreming is necessary, and to err on the safe side, let’s just use pectin! There is one fussy step that is sort of unavoidable: peeling and julienning the rind of the orange. If you aren’t concerned about how those little bits of suspended orange rind look in their lovely glass jars, just do a fine chop. The recipe below accounts for my amendments, and will hopefully be a breeze to follow. Please email or comment with any questions! And enjoy your marmalade.
with generous guidance from Food in Jars
Yield: about 7 half-pint jars
3 pounds navel oranges
2 large lemons
4-5 cups organic cane or white sugar (adjust to taste)
4 cups water
3 teaspoons Pomona pectin (or use low sugar pectin and follow their instructions)
2 teaspoons calcium water (included with pectin)
Put a small plate in the freezer – you’ll use this later to test whether the jam has set.
Thoroughly wash and scrub your fruits.
Using a sharp vegetable peeler, carefully peel the rind from the oranges and lemons in long strips.
Working with 4-5 strips of stacked rind at a time, julienne with a sharp knife. (Or just do a fine chop if you don’t care how the rind looks in the finished jam.)
Add the rind and the 4 cups water to a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes, covered.
While the rind simmers, slice the tops and bottoms off your fruit, and then slice the remaining peel from them.
Working over a glass bowl so that you catch all of that lovely juice, slice the orange in thirds horizontally. Remove the inner white pith and discard. Break the orange and lemon into small bits. Mash with your fingers or a wooden spoon. Squeeze any juice out of the peel if there is any pulp attached.
In a medium bowl, combine the pectin with 2 cups of the sugar. Set aside.
When the rind is thoroughly simmered, add the chopped fruit and reserved juices. If using Pomona pectin, add the calcium water now. Cover, and bring to a low boil, stirring every few minutes.
While the jam is bubbling, bring a large stock pot to a boil and sterilize your jars, gummed lids and rings. Sterilize them in boiling water for at least 15 minutes. When done, turn off heat but leave them in the hot water.
One the jam has been simmering for about one hour, add the sugar/pectin mix and stir thoroughly for about a minute. Then add the remaining sugar and stir again. At this time, do the set test: place a small dollop of jam on the cold plate, let sit for about a minute. Press gently – if it wrinkles, it is most likely set. If not, add more pectin.
Return the jam to boil, then remove from heat.
Take jars from their water bath and place next to your marmalade.
Using a 1/4 cup measure (it’s a good size for scooping) and a wide-mouthed funnel, ladle hot jam into jars. Fill to 1/4 inch from top of jar. Wipe the lids and any spilled jam from the side of the jars, and apply the gummy seals and rings.
Return the jars to the stock pot used for sterilizing and process them in a hot water bath. You’ll want to time it so that they process for 5 minutes from when the water begins to boil.
Using jar grabber, heavy oven mitts or a thick towel, remove from heat and arrange jars in a spot where they can sit undisturbed overnight. Once cool, check seals by pressing at the center of the lid. If there is no movement, it has been properly sealed.