December 19, 2006

Orange Marmalade

Orange Marmalade

Perhaps because I’ve been watching Marilla and Anne in their cozy, old-fashioned farmhouse kitchen, I felt a particular urge on Saturday to hover over a stove for a couple of hours with glass preserve jars at hand. I have always wanted to make marmalade. Though in reality I usually sleep through the breakfast hour and rise in time to have a burger at one, there’s nothing I love more than the idea of a sunny breakfast table set with steaming coffee, pots of jams, and piles of baked goods. And when you have a Saturday night filled with holiday parties to attend, what gift for your host could be more charming than homemade marmalade?

Marmalade becomes instantly less wholesome-seeming when you are measuring out an obscene amount (7 1/2 cups to be exact!) of sugar into your pot. And sealing up your Ball jars seems much less romantic when faced with sterilization and the word botulism is ringing in your ears. As fearless as the pioneers, forge on you will, and if you’re kicking it old school with nary a candy thermometer in sight, you may be somewhat flummoxed by the “sheet test” or the “wrinkle effect.” These are not obscure terms in physics, but ways of knowing if your marmalade has set. You will feel, perhaps, that maybe you have botched the whole process and surrendered hours of your life to tedious foam-skimming and wrinkle-testing.

But then you will put on your holiday finery and arrive at your host’s door. While others are toting bottles of merlot, you come bearing a jar of homemade marmalade topped with bright, modern fabric and tied up with a bow. You may think for a minute, that this is an exercise in style over substance. But then, Monday morning, as you open up the jar you kept for yourself and spread some on top of toast with peanut butter, all is forgotten. You may even think it was worth it.

Orange Marmalade

Orange Marmalade

2 navel oranges
2 cups fresh orange juice (from about 2 pounds oranges)
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
7 1/2 cups sugar

1. Rinse oranges under hot water and quarter lengthwise. Then slice crosswise as thinly as possible.
2. Over medium-high heat, bring the orange slices, orange juice, lemon juice and 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer until orange peels are translucent and tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
3. Add sugar and bring mixture to a boil again, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking, skimming foam off the surface and stirring often. If you have a candy thermometer, the marmalade has set when the temperature reaches 220 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, try the old wrinkle test. Place a little bit of marmalade onto a chilled plate. Let cool. If the marmalade wrinkles when you press the mixture, it has set. If it’s still gloopy, continue cooking. Mine cooked for about half an hour and then I bottled them up the way Fanny Farmer told me to.

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  • k*m: mmmm! i’m guessing a similar recipe would work for pinapple preserves?
    9 years ago

  • Sarah: k*m, I don’t think you can just swap the fruit only because this is basically food chemistry and from what I understand, the balance is somewhat delicate. I did find this recipe for pineapple jam that sounds pretty delish. Let us know if you find another!
    9 years ago

  • Kristen: Those would make beautiful hostess gifts. You did such a nice job. Looks delicious!
    9 years ago

  • agnes: Tee hee! I was hoping the merlot linked to Sideways.

    PS: Your culinary ambition never fails to amaze me.
    9 years ago

  • Alison R.: Let me tell you, as a hostess who received this gift from our darling Sarah, it is simply delicious!
    9 years ago

  • Marieke: It’s like everybody is making marmalade. This the season :-)
    Last week I made mine and was also very impressed by Fanny’s (of Food Beam) marmalade. I love the glasses you use, very stylish.
    8 years ago

  • Sarah: Thanks, Marieke. They’re the classic Ball jars that I found for super cheap in a kitchen supply store.
    8 years ago

  • Deborah: Love your place! I added THE PINK OF PERFECTION to my favs.

    I had posted a poem “Marmalade Morning” on my blog…then I found your page about making your own marmalade. I added a link to your page after my poem. Hope that’s okay.

    I’ll be visiting often!
    8 years ago

  • emilebklein: thanks much, it was a great recipe (I used blood oranges and mandarins instead of navels, works well, though I think the sugar level is a bit high, because it seems as if it’s used thicken like a “simple syrup” rather than depending on the pectin in the pith.
    8 years ago

  • Sarah: Awesome, emile! I’m so glad it worked for you, and your blood oranges and mandarins sound like a delicious swap.
    8 years ago

  • meg cash: How much will this recipe make? I have a whole tree full of oranges (valencia) that I need to do something with as the tree is starting to bloom again. It is a prolific producer!
    I need to know how many pint jars to buy before I start this project. It will take a while and I don’t want to quit in the middle of it to go buy more jars.
    project6 years ago

  • meg, i made this so long ago, i need to double check my notes. i really should have included that in the first place — sorry about that. more soon!6 years ago

  • margo: am new to comps. going to use your marmalade recipe, looking forward to it. also, enjoy my merlot. love your site, will return often. thanks much6 years ago

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