Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Vampire’s Lust: Blood Orange Marmalade

You can see where the name Blood Orange came from!

It’s a blood orange fetish. I admit it, the season is about over, and I just bought the last couple of 2-pound bags lurking in the corner of the produce department. Here it is, spring and all, with Passover and Easter just days away and I am still wallowing in winter fruit.  Not that they’ll keep forever in the basement fridge, but there IS another way.

I love blood oranges the way a vampire lusts for the red stuff, and I have found a way I can eat them every day until the season for begins again. Marmalade. No other way of preserving the oranges lets you eat virtually the whole fruit. Yes, you CAN freeze the juice and zest for other uses, but marmalade uses all of it.

Been making other kinds of jams and marmalade for years, but this is a first for blood oranges. The first time I ever made marmalade at all, I thought I had to have real Seville oranges, and trekked home from the Reading Terminal Market by train on the infamous Paoli Local, during a snowstorm with a bag full. I was shocked to find out how dry, pithy and seedy they were.

It was the gorgeous color of the Small-Batch Blood Orange marmalade on Marisa’s blog “Food in Jars” that got me. Her recipe also reminded me to dig out an old canning cookbook from Charlotte Turgeon, picked up as a newlywed in the 1970’s, called “Small-Batch Canning & Freezing Cookbook”. The recipe here is sort of a mish-mash of recipes from both of these marmalade mavens.  I hope you can still find some blood oranges around and give it a try. I just made it two days ago and have eaten a whole jar’s worth. With a spoon. Totally, utterly delicious.

Another Small Batch of Blood Orange Marmalade
Makes approx. 3 half-pint jars (3 cups)

Adapted from Marisa McClellan’s Blog "Food in Jars”, and the late Charlotte Turgeon’s “Small Batch Canning and Freezing Cookbook”

6 blood oranges
4 cups of water
2-1/2 cups of sugar

Note: You’ll also need some cheese cloth or a small garni bag, a broad, large  pot to cook the marmalade, a candy-deep fry thermometer, 3 half-pint canning jars and lids, a water bath canner and canning tools, unless you simply want to refrigerate the marmalade (it’ll keep for several months if you pack it hot into sterilized jars). I think a canning funnel is a MUST.

With a small, very sharp knife, slice each orange lengthwise through the stem, and remove the center pith core and the seeds, if any. You may have to poke around a bit to find a seed or two. Place the pith and the seeds in a small bowl. Next slice each orange half as thinly –really wafer thin-- as you can, discarding the stem end slice. Cut the slices in half again or just chop them roughly. Place the cut oranges and any escaped juice in a medium bowl. Put the reserved pith and seeds into a piece of tripled over cheesecloth so no seeds or pith bits escape, and tie it into a bag, or put it all into a garni bag and burrow it into the sliced oranges. Add the water to the bowl, cover and place in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. Soaking the seeds and pith, plus cooking it with the oranges for part of the time helps the marmalade jell.

When you are ready to make the marmalade, get your canning equipment organized, sterilize your jars and have everything waiting.

Almost Blood Orange Marmalade.

Place the oranges, the cheesecloth bag and the water in the broad pot, and bring to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and the cheesecloth bag, add the sugar, stir until it dissolves, put the thermometer in place, and continue to cook very slowly uncovered until the temperature on your thermometer reaches 220° - 222°F, no higher.  The  blood orange mixture will be less than half what you started cooking. Test by dropping a dab on a cool china plate to see if it jells. 

Blood Orange Marmalade 

Ladle into your prepared jars using the funnel, wipe the rims, put on the lids and seals, or lids and rings, and process for 10 minutes in a water bath canner. If you don’t want to deal with a canning, sterilize your jars and lids, put the boiling hot marmalade into the jars, seal and let cool. Store refrigerated for up to 3 months.

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