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Blood Orange

blood-orangesMarmalade is a preserve made from citrus fruit, especially oranges. It has a long history. The Romans discovered from the Greeks that Quinces cooked over a slow fire with honey would gel when cooled. The word marmalade comes from the greek word for apple.

In the Byzantine empire, popular marmalades were made from quince, lemon, rose, apple, plum, and pear. In Medieval France, cotignac marmalade was made from quince.

Henry VIII received a gift of a “box of marmalade.” The letter with it said, “I have sent to your lordship a box of marmaladoo, and another unto my good lady your wife.”

The word “marmalade” first appeared in print in the English language in 1480.

No matter how it came about, marmalade is one of the polarizing foods. Some people love the sweet/bitter contrast. Others hate it. I love it. However, the marmalade that comes in the little tubs in restaurants and the commercial marmalade made by big food factories is a pitiful imitation of the real thing. Real, home-made marmalade is rich and silky with chewy bits of fruit. It explodes on your tongue with flavor. It is to be savored and adored.

Since Seville oranges, the fruit of choice for orange marmalade, are scarce where I live, I decided to try my hand at what I had: Blood Oranges.

My blood orange tree finally blessed me with a crop of beautiful, dark-red, sweet and juicy fruit. I made marmalade. I also made marmalade and blood orange liquor. I’ll share the recipe soon. It’s still brewing.

marmalade

MMMMMM MMMMMM Good!

Here is the recipe for marmalade.

It turned out soooo good, I can’t sing its praises enough. It is a little labor intensive, but so worth the effort. This is something you can’t buy in stores except in some boutiques. Even then, the quality isn’t nearly as amazing as this.

Give it a try. You will be the envy of the universe.

Recipe for Blood Orange Marmalade
Adapted from my food guru’s recipe, Alton Brown 2009
1 3/4 pounds blood oranges
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 Lemon
3 pounds sugar
6 cups water
6-8 pint canning jars with lids and rings
You will also need a funnel, canning tongs, ladle, and a water-bath canner. A candy or jam thermometer makes the process easier.

NOTE: If you don’t have a water bath canner, you can use a stock pot. You might have to process in two batches, though. If you don’t have a rack for the bottom of the pan, you can use a folded towel.

Wash the fruit thoroughly. If they are not organic, put them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then rinse thoroughly and dry with a towel.

Cut blood oranges into quarters.

Slice quartered oranges into about 1/8″ slices. I used my food processor with a slicer blade. They don’t have to be pretty, you are going to smoosh them anyway.

Put blood oranges into an 8-quart pot, like a dutch oven or stock pot. It should be stainless or teflon, not iron or aluminum. Iron and aluminum will react with the acid in the oranges and give them a yucky color and an off-taste.

Add lemon zest and juice.

Add water.

Bring to a boil over high heat – about 10 minutes on the average stove, less if you have a “super boiler” setting.

When it reaches a boil, reduce heat to a rapid simmer and cook, stirring frequently for 40 minutes, or until fruit is soft.

Meanwhile, put a small bowl or saucer in the freezer. This will be used to test doneness of the marmalade.

Fill your water bath canner about halfway with water. Be sure there is a rack in the bottom to keep the jars off of the bottom of the kettle. This will prevent cracking and breakage.

To sterilize the jars, you can boil them, filled with water, in the canner for 10 minutes. Or, you can fill a clean sink with water, add about 1/2 cup bleach and soak the jars, lids and rings. You can also run them through the dishwasher with a “sanitize” setting.

When the fruit is soft, after about 40 minutes, you can break up the fruit with a stick blender if you like. I like my marmalade spreadable, so I did this. Don’t puree, just break up the fruit a little until it is the is the size you want for spreading. Be careful with this.

NOTE:When using the stick blender, wear an oven mitt or a grilling glove. Have the heat turned off. Don’t put your face over the kettle, it could splash.

Increase heat to return fruit to a boil. Add sugar and stir continually, or very frequently to prevent burning. Bring the marmalade to 222-223 Degrees F. This takes around 15 minutes. The marmalade will have darkened into a rich orange/red color.

Whether you have a candy thermometer or not, when it reaches the proper temperature, take a small spoonful out and place it on the cold bowl or saucer you had in the freezer. It should be what is called “Soft ball” stage. Let the spoonful rest on the cold dish for 30 seconds, then tilt it. It should move slightly. If it runs easily, the marmalade isn’t ready. Cook it for another couple of minutes then try again.

When marmalade is ready, turn off the heat. Remove the jars from the water, rinse and drain on a towel.

Place the pot of marmalade on a counter over a heat protection pad or folded towels and place the jars next to it on another towel to protect the counter from the inevitable messy spills. Ladle the marmalade into the jars, leaving one inch of headspace. The filled jars will vary from 6-8, depending on a lot of factors. If there is a partial jar left over, just put it into the ferment. Even then, it is really good.

Wipe the rims of the jars with a paper towel or cloth moistened with vinegar or warm water. Even the tiniest speck on the rims will keep the jars from sealing.

Place a lid and ring on each jar. Hand tighten. Place jars in the canner. Water should be at least 1-inch above the tops of the jars. Add more water if needed.

Bring to a boil with the lid on the canner. Set timer, after the water comes to a boil, for 10 minutes.

Turn off heat. Use canning tongs to carefully lift the jars out of the water and place on a  towel-covered counter. Don’t put them on a tile counter without a towel, the jars could shock and crack.

The lids should all “pop” as they seal. Let them set for at least 24 hours. Remove the screw-bands and test seal by lifting slightly by the lids. If it holds tight, and the lid has “popped,” they are sealed. Store in a cupboard. Refrigerate after opening. Sealed jars will keep at room temperature for at least 6 months. I have had them keep for a year with no change in flavor.

Leave a comment. I love comments. If you try this and have questions. Please let me know. I’m happy to answer if I can.

Anita

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