I know the jam-making risks taking over my life when I take it with me when I go away, but what else was I to do when a California friend left me alone in her home when she upped and went to work? Friend has an orange tree in her back yard, and a nearby lemon tree was dripping with fruit as we walked past with her two well-trained pups. Marmalade, anybody? With backyard naval oranges and a lemons, fresh from the tree.
Of course I’ve never made oranges with navel oranges and the internet recipes all suggested a three-day venture, peeling the rind from the oranges and then boiling that separately from the fruit before making a marmalade on Day 2 or Day 3. I didn’t have time for that one, and I didn’t see the point either. Let’s just make things up as I go along. It’s worked before.
Navel orange marmalade
5 navel oranges
2 lbs sugar
an extra splash of lemon juice
Scrub the fruit and cover them with water in your largest pot (I used the pressure cooker, without the lid). Simmer for 60-90 minutes, until the fruit and peel are very, very soft. Fish out the fruit, quarter them and allow them to cool. Measure the liquid that’s left in the pot and top it up (or toss some out) to make four cups of liquid. Add the sugar.
Scoop out the flesh from the oranges and chop it roughly, and add it to the pot, and then slice the peels as thinly as you wish and add them too. Same deal for the lemons, but save the pits carefully and put them in a square of cheesecloth to add to the liquid. That’s what gives you the pectin, and it’s the pectin that gives the set.
Bring your jam to a slow simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved, and then bring to a rolling boil and boil for about 20 minutes, stirring very frequently. It tasted a little sweeter than I wanted it to, so I added a splash of (bottled) lemon juice), and carried on with the boil. It’s done when it starts to feel sticky rather than liquid as you stir, and when a drizzle of jam sets a little when you pour it onto a cold plate. Fish out the cheesecloth of pits, allow the marmalade to cool for a couple of minutes (to help the peel settle a little) and then bottle in sterlizied jars. I flipped the jars over for a few seconds to help get a decent seal, and I didn’t waterbath them. I’m pretty sure a marmalade is acid enough that bugs won’t grow, but I suspect that breaches the USDA guidelines so not waterbathing is not a formal recommendation.
I admit this marmalade was a little runny, but it may thicken up over the next few days, and California friend can always use it over yogurt if it’s too syrupy for bread. She says she likes it, and that’s what counts.
On to the next adventure.