One of the wonderful things about growing up in Southern California was being able to grow citrus trees in the backyard. Every winter, my mother, standing little more than 5 feet tall, would gather as many oranges and tangerines as she could. Then she’d get out a ladder to pick the fruit a few feet outside of her reach. When the remaining orange bulbs teased her, still outside her grasp, she’d drag me out to backyard and force me to climb the ladder until only the fruit at the top of the tree was left. We had bags full of fresh fruit! She gave these away to everyone she could.
Last year, I thought, “Why not do something more than put these in plastic bags?” I found this website with excellent instructions on how to not only make your own marmalade but properly preserve it in cans to last throughout the year. My sister and I made four batches. Each batch yielded about a dozen half-pint cans. This year, she and I did it again, and our hope is that this is the start of a long tradition.
Orange marmalade like other preserves is an excellent way to keep the fresh taste of orange as the seasons change. It is made using the juice, peels, and “meat” of oranges and lemons. Marmalade has a slight bitter bite to it as a result of adding the peel during the boiling process. Some people like this aspect of marmalade and others do not. If you are one of those who does not, just skip the steps involving the peels. When you finish making your orange marmalade, you will be astonished by the fresh natural flavor of your beautiful sweet fruits enhanced with sugar and pectin, the latter a natural product derived from apples and citrus fruits. It will be hard to go back to store-bought marmalade.
- 8 whole oranges
- 3 whole lemons
- 4 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice/water. You will get much more flavor with freshly squeezed juice. Also, consider using half tangerine and half orange juice for a sweeter, tangier flavor.
- 2.3oz low sugar pectin (about 1 1/3 packets)
- 4 cups sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
I’m not going to lie; it’s quite a bit of work. If you have someone to help, it goes a really long way, though. In other words, FIND HELP! Luckily for me, I have a sister who is about as crazy as I am about cooking. If you’re still not convinced, it also makes a really affordable Holiday gift, especially if you are blessed enough to have the fruit growing in your backyard.
First, wash your fruit. You want fresh, beautiful fruit.
Start with one person juicing. You can use water instead of juice, but it will have much more flavor if you use freshly squeezed juice. The first year, my sister and I juiced everything by hand. It took over an hour to juice 4 cups. This year, a good friend was kind enough to buy us an electric juicer. It cut the juicing time down to 15-20 minutes, and we were able to put out batches almost twice as fast. Moral of the story: Get a juicer if you can.
Meanwhile, have your partner slicing the peel of the oranges that you will use for the “meat” in the marmalade. You just want to get the peel leaving as much of the white rind behind as possible. Once the peel has been removed, chop it up and set it aside. The peel boiled with the juice is what gives marmalade its characteristically bitter bite. If you do not want your marmalade to have this flavor, skip this step.
Next, carefully remove the rind. Hopefully, you have not cut your nails too recently. I have found that it is helpful to use a knife to cut through the rind near the stem and then use your nails to carefully remove the rest of the rind from there with dry hands.
Now, slice your orange/lemon in half and remove the rind that is in the middle.
Chop the orange/lemon into small chunks. Combine the pectin and 1/4 cup of sugar in a bowl. Mix the pectin/sugar mixture with your bowl of chopped fruit. Set aside for about 20 minutes.
While the fruit is setting in the pectin mixture, put two cups of your freshly squeezed orange juice into a skillet with the chopped peels and the baking soda. Bring the flame to high. When it starts to boil, cover the skillet, turn the flame down and let it simmer for 20 minutes. If you do not want your marmalade to have to the bitter bite, skip this step as well.
Next, add the chopped fruit and the rest of the juice. Bring the flame back to a boil and then let it simmer for 10 minutes. You might have to keep the flame around medium at this point to keep it at a simmer. Now, add the remaining sugar, return the flame to high and allow the mixture to boil hard for one minute.
You’ve just made orange marmalade! Isn’t it fantastic?
In an upcoming post, you will learn about canning so that you can preserve not only orange marmalade but other foods such as pasta sauces, pickles, and just about anything you see sold in a can.