Posts Tagged blood oranges

Life (and marmalade) on the bitter side

As I may have mentioned once or twice before, there’s a short season for bitter Seville oranges in Toronto, which means grabbing when you see them and fitting the jamming session in around the fruit. So this weekend was time for the first experiment, with two glorious batches of bitingly tart marmalade for round-the-year enjoyment. We followed the recipe that’s mostly worked before, boiling the fruit in water, removing the pith and the pits, chopping the peel relatively finely, and then boiling the resulting goop up with sugar until it almost sets. Unusually for me, I did not cut the sugar this time — I admit last year’s marmalade was a little too tart, even for me, and a few extra sugar calories won’t do any harm. It’s runny again, just like it was last year, but I’m still hoping it will firm up a little over the course of the next few days.

Here’s the simmer…

The prep…

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The boil…

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The bottle…

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And the collection.

IMG_0714We ended up with 10 jars of regular Seville marmalade, with a couple of blood oranges to give it a richer color, and 11 of a slightly caramelly whisky/brown sugar concoction, which are the ones lurking on the left of the picture, plus a jar of mixed marmalade that wouldn’t fit into the regular batch. I had a spoonful of that in my morning oatmeal, for a wake-up bite.

We finished just in time to watch part 3 of the current season of Downton Abbey, which is lurching fast from period piece to soap opera.

Successful day.

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More marmalade: will I never learn?

Will I never learn that I’m not very good at using up marmalade? I love the making of it, and the heady orange smell right through the house, and I love the fact that you have to seize the few short weeks when Seville oranges hit the stores. But while I race through a jar of jam a week, and we can clean out a jar of chutney in a single meal, the marmalade does tend to sit around. I use it on the rare morning when I want toast for breakfast, or for a peanut butter-marmalade sandwich (a surprisingly tasty combination) midway through my summer bike rides. But it takes a while to use up a jar.

Despite all that I made more marmalade today, both the traditional Seville orange stuff, and the more exotic Meyer lemon marmalade, because Meyer lemons have a short season too and it seemed a nice idea. And just for good measure I had a slice of toast with the last of the 2012 marmalade, after giving a number of jars away and offering several to the last Well-Preserved preserve swap.

Having said all that, I do have high hopes of the current two batches, given that I actually read the recipe through this time and used the appropriate amount of sugar. We boiled the oranges in water first to soften them up, then removed the pits and white pulp and chopped the peel up pretty finely. Then came the second boil, with sugar, and then a water bath, because we wanted to be sure we hadn’t let any nasty bugs in when we were not looking. One jar broke cleanly between the base and the jar, leaving marmalade in the water. Either it was faulty, or it was sitting too close to the bottom of the canner and it didn’t like the heat. 😦

Seville orange marmalade
(Increased and adapted from “Jellies, Jams and Chutneys, Preserving the Harvest” by Thane Price)
9 Seville oranges
2 blood oranges
1 lemon
1 kg sugar

Simmer the fruit for an hour in 8 cups of water, moving the oranges around frequently to be sure they all get super-soft. Take them from the water, and let them cool down before quartering and removing the seeds and pith (and putting in a muslin bag) and slicing the peel as thinly or as thickly as you like.

Measure the water that’s left, and add liquid to make up 7.5 cups. Add the sugar, then the chopped up peel and fruit (as well as the tied-up bag of pits), and heat until the sugar has melted. Then bring to a fast boil for 15 minutes or so, until it’s thickened enough so that you can run a finger through a blob on a chilled plate without it running straight back together.

And it all looks so pretty, with the sun shining through in the background.

Luckily the casualty was a one of our 15 jars of  Seville marmalade rather than a Meyer lemon one, where we used the same marmalading principle, but got just 3-1/2 jars of the stuff.

Time will tell which one tastes best.

Now has anyone got any ideas of things to do with tart orange or lemon marmalade?

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Marmalade mania

Never let anyone say anything against the power of the press. A newspaper writes something about that short season for Seville oranges, and four days later I end up with 20 something jars of marmalade in three glorious colors. There’s a blood orange concoction on the left (thanks to London for the inspiration here), a rich one with brown sugar and whisky in the middle and the almost-classic on the right, with a few cubes of crushed up ginger to give it  a bit of a bite.

Now I also admit that 20+ jars of marmalade are going to be something of a challenge to a two-person household. But I’m sure we’ll find our way around that one, especially once the biking season starts and I can start the marmalade/peanut butter routine for mid-ride meals. And I’m also sure that jar tally will fall steeply as people start staking their claims to a share of the bounty. Just make sure you give me the jars back, folks.

As for making the stuff, it’s actually pretty easily, in a messy sort of way. You boil the fruit with water, then scoop the seeds and flesh from the boiled up, softened oranges (and Seville oranges have a scarily large amount of seeds), before bringing the whole goopy mess up to the boil again with sugar until it sets.

There was a moment of panic when the new flat-top stove refused point-blank to bring the mix to a full rolling boil. It boils nicely at the start, but then the red light goes off just as the roll starts, and things cool down again. This is not good for marmalade, and I’m not sure if it signifies a dud stove, or if that’s just par for the flat-top course. I will have to start looking into this one. If it’s the stove it may be time to switch to gas.

Just don’t do as I did, and drop one jar as you try to screw the lid on. It didn’t break, but it’s amazing how far sticky jam can spread when a piping hot jar slithers out of your grasp.

So now the question. There’s marmalade on toast, marmalade and peanut butter sarnies and a wonderful Nigella Lawson marmalade/chocolate cake I found on the internet last year. Anyone got anything else?

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