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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Look At The Orange Marmalade!

Citrus fruits are at their best right now and as usual, I bought too much. Clementines from the grocery store, grapefruits from the place in Texas where I buy pears and cheese for the in-laws for Christmas, something called "Honeybells" from a place in Florida that runs a half price special in the women's magazines every few years. The result is citrus that I have to use NOW or else throw it away, which is something I hate to do.

So I decided to make marmalade.

I love to make marmalade and I love to eat it. Marmalade was something I hated as a kid (I think it's a rule that kids have to hate it) unless it was the generic Smucker's brand that had too much sugar. Marmalade is basically a way to use the whole citrus fruit (including seeds) to make something bitter and sticky to spread on toasted English muffins. As an adult, I love it.

I have made marmalade from grapefruit, from oranges, from the can of Seville oranges you can buy at Le Store Expensive, from the calamondon oranges I got from a little tree that I bought at the grocery store. Twice I got about 6 little oranges from this tree (before it died) - enough to make a jar or two of delicious marmalade. I've even made marmalade from kumquats (the BEST)! This time, I made marmalade from the clementines that were not going to be nice to eat in a few days. The resulting spread is quite tasty.

I am a casual gourmet. I start out with great intentions and slice the fruit as thin as possible. After a while, though, I get a little careless and my slices are less exact, a little chunky, a little misshapen, but I figure the fruit is going to cook for a long time and the rinds will be tender, if chunky, so it really doesn't matter (ask me about the first marmalade I ever made, which found its way to my dad, who loved it).

I have a recipe that I always use. I may look at other recipes but I always return to this one. Mostly because I don't even have to look at the recipe to remember exactly how to make it. It's so easy I can write it down from memory. Making marmalade may look like a lot of work (it's a three day process) but the actual hands on time is only a few minutes a day, once you have sliced and measured all the fruit.

You may wish to process the finished marmalade in sterilized canning jars. Or you may wish to simply put the finished jars into the fridge where it will keep for quite a long while. Either way, you'll have a superior home made product that will be delicious on your morning toast or especially good on a toasted English muffin. And be sure to try it on a toasted bagel with a little cream cheese.

My Favorite Marmalade Recipe

Citrus fruit (use any fruit or any combination of oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerines, kumquats, Meyer lemons, Calamondons, etc).
Sugar and Water

Slice the fruit, peels and all, as thinly as possible. I usually cut it in half (quarters for the larger fruits) then slice across into thin strips. Place in a large measuring cup as you go and keep track of how much you have. Pull out the seeds and keep them on the side.

Place all the sliced fruit, pulp and juice, into a heavy pot at least twice as deep as the amount of fruit you have. You may place the seeds in a little bit of cheesecloth and tie it into a bundle and place that in the pot. Some recipes say the seeds add flavor and the cheesecloth makes it easy to retrieve them from the pot. They will be discarded later - or just trash them now if you don't want to bother.

Measure water equal to the amount of fruit you have and add it to the pot. Bring to a boil and boil about five minutes. Allow to cool, then cover the pot and place it in a cool place for 24 hours.

Next day, bring to a boil again and boil for 10 minutes. Again cool, cover and let stand in a cool place overnight.

Next day, measure the fruit again and add an equal amount of sugar (I usually skimp a bit on the sugar, adding maybe 3/4 cup sugar for each cup of fruit). Bring to a steady rolling boil and cook until it thickens and gels (or until it measures 220 f on a candy thermometer - 12 degrees above the boiling point of water).

Meanwhile, you will have washed your jars and lids and bands and kept the jars in hot water and simmered the lids and bands in a small saucepan of water, and prepared a canning kettle of water for processing.

Ladle the hot marmalade into the hot jars, wiping off the rim and topping with a lid and band. Place each jar in the canner and when the canner is full, process for 10 minutes, remove jars from the canner and allow to cool in a draft free place. Next day, check the seals and remove the bands. Your marmalade is suitable for gifting if you use a pretty jar and a fancy label.

Quotable Quotes; in the category Do You See What I See?

Q: What did the chick say when he saw an orange?
A: Look at the Orange Mama Laid!!!

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