I’ve been dithering about making orange marmalade for some time now. I made a lemon ginger marmalade a few years ago, which was delicious but a nightmare of endlessly emerging seeds. But now I have made the plunge, using the Minneola tangerines from my backyard tree. That tree has been a real trooper over the years, providing plenty of fruit for donating to our neighbors by the bag full. Now the fruit has peaked in flavor and juiciness and I figured I had better get cracking before it’s late.
The recipe below is from the Food TV site and is by Alton Brown. It worked great except for a little something – my mandoline isn’t sharp enough to slice citrus without mangling them, so I had to switch to my 8” chef knife. Even after simmering the minneolas for 40 minutes, effectively tenderizing them, cooking them in sugar seemed to toughen the strips back up. The flavor was great but Paul was picking the strips out of his marmalade.
It occurred to me during the process that I may wish I had pulsed them in the food processor, and lo, my foodie next door neighbor told me about the marmalade he had that was made in Sweden or some other Arctic country. It was finely chopped and he swore it was the best orange marmalade evah. Feeling emboldened, I got out my food processor and turned out another batch. The result addictively good, sweet, citrusy, with a mild bitterness that marmalade is known for, and yet a little chewy, which is normal. If you can’t get minneolas, wait until the thin skinned Valencias are in season. There is too much rind on the navel orange, which is for eating anyway. Sometime when I can get my hands on blood oranges for a reasonable price I will give them a whirl.
yields 8-9 cups
- 1 3/4 pounds oranges, minneolas or other thin-skinned citrus, 4 to 5 medium
- 1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
- 6 cups water
- 3 pounds plus 12 ounces sugar
- Special Equipment: 8-9 (8-ounce) canning jars with rings and lids, funnel, tongs, ladle, and 12-quart pot
Wash the oranges and lemon thoroughly. Cut the oranges into 1/8-inch slices using a mandoline, removing the seeds as you go. Stack the orange slices and cut them into quarters. (Alternatively, use your food processor to finally chop the goods. Don’t turn into a paste.) Place the oranges into an 8-quart stainless steel pot. Add the lemon zest and juice and the water to the pot, set over high heat and bring to a boil, approximately 10 minutes. Once boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 40 minutes or until the fruit is very soft.
While the fruit is cooking, fill a large pot (at least 12-quart) 3/4 full with water, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Place the (8-ounce) jars and rings, canning funnel, ladle, and tongs into the boiling water and make sure the water covers the jars by at least an inch. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the lids and leave everything in the pot until the marmalade is ready.
Meanwhile, place a small plate in the freezer. Increase the heat under the orange mixture to return to full boil. Add the sugar and stir the mixture continually, until it reaches 222 to 223 degrees F on a deep-fry or candy thermometer, and darkens in color, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. You may need to adjust the heat in order to prevent boil over. Test the readiness of the marmalade by placing a teaspoon of the mixture onto the chilled plate and allowing it to sit for 30 seconds. Tilt the plate. The mixture should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If mixture is thin and runs easily, it is not ready.
Remove jars from the water and drain on a clean towel. Place a canning funnel onto the top of 1 of the jars and ladle in the marmalade just to below the bottom of the threads of the jar. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used. The amount of marmalade may vary by 1 to 2 jars. Wipe the rims and threads of the jars with a moist paper towel and top each with a lid. Place a ring on each jar and tighten.
Return the jars to the pot with boiling water, being certain that they don't touch the bottom of the pot or each other. (If you don't have a jar rack, try a round cake rack, or metal mesh basket. Even a folded kitchen towel on the pot bottom will do in a pinch.) Add additional water if necessary to cover the jars by at least an inch. Boil for 10 minutes. Using canning tongs, carefully remove the jars from the water, place in a cool dry place and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours before opening. Once open, store in the refrigerator. Unopened marmalade will last for up to 6 months.