Monday, March 29, 2010

Orange Marmalade

A few weeks ago I spent two days in sight of an organic orange tree. The fruit was small, perfectly round, delicate in color, but perfectly juicy and floral once peeled and gently pulled apart.

The fruit was in danger of going to waste; if I didn't pick it and do something with it, it would ripen, fall to the ground, and be lost in a mess of long grasses. I had to make marmalade.

I picked a giant bag of fruit, and a few days later, transformed a jumble of juice and pith into a delightfully sunny preserve. This morning I ate some plopped on top of my yogurt. It is tart and a little bitter, with big chunks of peel. It isn't the best marmalade for spreading, though I do plan to try to slather it on a slice of toasted walnut bread very soon. But if I made it again I think I'd put extra effort into cutting the strips of fruit slender and small. It might make for a more traditional marmalade.

As it is, it is more like an orange preserve. And really, preserving is such an apt word for this project. Not only did I save the fruit for future days, but I saved the memory of a little cabin tucked into Dry Creek Valley: spring sun and warmth, dusty vines, long walks and longer talks, too many glasses of wine.

Sunny Orange Marmalade
7 tangerines or oranges (do not peel), preferably organic, washed well, quartered, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 lemons (do not peel), preferably organic, washed well, quartered, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 cups water
Granulated sugar
Bring tangerines, lemons, and water to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes. Let cool slightly. Press parchment directly on surface of marmalade, and refrigerate overnight.
Remove parchment; return saucepan to medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and cook until citrus rinds are very tender, about 30 minutes. Measure mixture, and return to saucepan over medium-high heat. For each cup of mixture, add 3/4 cup sugar. Simmer until a candy thermometer registers 220, about 30 minutes. (Tangerine and lemon flesh should be broken down, and rinds should be translucent.) Plate-test marmalade to make sure it is set. Divide among 4 pint-size sterilized glass jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace at tops. Can in water bath for 15 minutes.
Makes about 4 pint sized jars. 


Dana V said...

Hi Anne: What a wonderful story about preserving the memory of your visit in a jar--so true. And the resulting marmalade looks delicious. I'm sure you will be happy that you caught some of that luscious sunshine as this cold, rainy week unfolds. Enjoy it in good spirits!

Shannalee said...

Oh, now I want an orange tree to sit near. This marmalade sounds divine.