While most canning is reserved for the abundant summertime season, winter is also a great season to preserve citrus fruits. Candied orange peels, marmalade and preserved lemons are delicious preserves that are best created in this cold season.
Do you make marmalade? What are some of your favorite recipes? What are some of your favorite ways to use winter citrus?
Since I've never made marmalade before, I decided to make one from a new book called, Gifts Cooks Love. The recipe is at the end of this post.
The recipe has a note about looking for blemish-free citrus and after making this, I have to say this is important. You use the entire fruit to make marmalade and any brown spots, mushy areas, etc. are sure to show up in your final product. I personally prefer beautiful looking food and strongly suggest if you make this jam, that you find beautiful fruit to make it with.
Making marmalade is an intense process. This recipe took about 28 total hours to make but the work is differently worth it.
I did however learn a few shortcuts for the next time I make marmalade. A friend of mine suggested that instead of using a chef’s knife to thinly cut the oranges that I throw them in the food processor. I have to say, this might be a brilliant thing to do next time. I used both a chef’s knife and a mandolin to cut the oranges. I have a dinky little mandolin so if going this route; I would suggest a really good mandolin over the one I used
I would also suggest using the best and finely granulated sugar you can find. Regular granulated sugar can be cut more finely in your food processor. The fine sugar seems to melt into the preserves in a smoother manner.
Makes eleven (½-pint) jars
2½ pounds (6 to 8 medium) oranges, such as Valencia or Cara Cara
¾ pound (about 2 large) lemons
6 cups cold water
20 green cardamom pods, crushed
8 cups granulated sugar
1. Prepare the fruit 12 to 24 hours before you plan to cook and preserve the marmalade. Wash and pat dry all the fruit. Trim and discard the stem ends. Cut the oranges and lemons into quarters and poke out all the seeds with the tip of a paring knife. Reserve the seeds in a small covered container. Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut all the citrus, including the rinds, into ¹⁄16-inch-thick slices. Put the sliced fruit in a large pot, including any juices left on the cutting board. Add the 6 cups of water. Gently press down on the fruit to make sure it is submerged. Cover the pot and set aside at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. (This softens the rinds and releases the pectin.)
2. The next day, bring the pot of sliced fruit and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Adjust the heat so the mixture boils steadily without splattering, and cook for 30 minutes. Wrap the crushed cardamom pods and the reserved lemon and orange seeds in a cheesecloth bag tied securely with kitchen twine.
3. While the fruit is cooking, prepare the preserving jars and bring water to a boil in a water bath canner. Sterilize the jars and lids.
4. Add the sugar to the fruit mixture and stir until dissolved. Add the cheesecloth bag of cardamom and seeds. Continue to cook the marmalade at a steady boil until it reaches the gel stage or reaches 220°F on a candy thermometer, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
5. Remove the cheesecloth bag from the marmalade, pressing any liquids back into the pan.
6. Remove the marmalade from the heat. Using a wide-mouth funnel and filling one jar at a time, ladle the marmalade into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles by running a long wooden utensil, such as a chopstick or wooden skewer, between the jar and the marmalade. Wipe the rims clean. Seal according to the manufacturer’s directions. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, and then turn off the heat. Wait 5 minutes, and then lift the canning rack and, using a canning jar lifter, transfer the jars to a towel-lined, sturdy rimmed baking sheet and let them rest. Check the seals, wipe the jars, and label.
Storing: Store the jars in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.