Friday, January 27, 2012

Orange You Glad...

I made the orange marmalade! And although it wasn't easy, it is definitely really worth it! This stuff tastes so much better than anything I have ever bought at the store. It is so much more flavorful!!

I had to do a lot of research before making it because I didn't know How to make it and it wasn't as simple as finding one recipe. There are a myriad of ways to make it!

And it's amazing the rabbit trails one can get on in one's quest for a simple recipe! Did you know for instance that the first marmalades weren't even made from oranges, they were made from a fruit called quince which isn't even in the citrus family but is more like a pear or an apple?
Did you also know, when made with oranges it can be made with or with out the peel? I didn't know that. I thought all marmalades had peel in them? Heck, I thought marmalade was made from oranges!
Did you also know it can be made using the whole orange, the peel, the pith and the fruit. Or it can be made out of any citrus fruit like lemons, limes or grapefruits even? Or you can also add spices for a spiced marmalade, or did you know, you can make marmalade out of other fruits like peaches, apples or pineapple? Whew! I had no clue!

Anyway, all I wanted to make was just a standard orange marmalade with the peel in it. And I choose to make it bitter, because in order to use the peel and not have it bitter would require blanching or soaking and I didn't want to do that, at least not this time.  I found an awesome recipe on this cool website called the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. It was called Marmalade is Way Easier than it looks. Seriously, with a name like that and a recipe title that had 'Way Easier' in it I knew this had to be a recipe made for me!

I did end up tweaking it just a bit... I never can seem to leave things well enough alone so I'm sharing my tweaked version with you.

So... on with the marmalade!

I choose sweet oranges and lemons for mine. I bought 8 lbs of oranges and 4 nice sized lemons.

First off, I recommend using organic oranges as you will be using the peel which is the part that is sprayed, but either way you'll want to wash the fruit.


Next you will need to remove the orange part of the peel from the pith. I was having a dickens of a time trying to remove it with a peeler like was suggested. I think the reason was in the type of oranges I had bought. Now I'm not an orange connoisseur so I have no idea the types I had, but it did seem they were two different kinds.


The bigger one on the left had a thicker pith than the one on the right


so I decided to just cut up the oranges first


and then cut the peel off the one ones with the thicker pith


And then cut the pith off the fruit


And the ones with the thin pith I just left.
I then stacked them on top of each other to slice.


And I cut the fruit into chunks, removing any tough pieces, and put it all in a big pot with all the peels.
When I was cutting the fruit I would work over the pot or bowl to try to save any juice, and to also save from making a mess! hehehehe


I then poured *water into the pot just so that the fruit was semi covered, meaning the fruit wasn't covered completely but I could push it down under the water, and turned the stove top on to set the mixture to boiling.
*You can also use OJ which I would have done except Webster drank it all and left the empty container in the refrigerator so I didn't know that we Didn't have any until it was too late!

Do keep track of how much water you put in because you're going to want to add approximately the same amount of sugar. I used a quart jar to add the water so I had a general idea of the amount I needed. Once it started boiling I left it simmering uncovered for an hour or so and then added the sugar and let it simmer some more stirring occasionally.


And now was the time that I had my first taste of my homemade proto-marmalade!...

Geep!! Gack! Ooooop! Sssshhwwwwunnnk! (That was the sound that my face made as it was sucked into my skull)
Bitter was an underestimate! Whew! It needed an overhaul! So me not willing to concede to marmalade failure did the natural first response... add more sugar! Well, it did help some but that proto-marm was still needing a flavor fix that I realized adding more sugar couldn't mask. So I put on my thinking cap and thought about it a minute and said hmmm... it seems to be very acidic... so it would need an anti-acidic? So I opted to try a bit of baking soda... a teaspoon to start...


And a funny thing happened as I stirred it in...


It blew up!

Not like *BOOM* blow up,  but more like FROOOMP! Blow up!


EEK! At one point I wondered if it was going to keep going right up over the top, but it did stop rising before it came close. But the amount of foam was amazing!
Oh my... so now what? I thought again and remembered a trick my mom had told me to reduce foaming in strawberry jam, and that was to add a pat of butter while cooking, so I figured I would try it and see if it helped... and it did! It looked normal again!


And you know what? The flavor, in my humble opinion, was much improved!

I then opted to stir in a few drops of red food coloring, just as a personal preference to give the orangey-ness color a boost.


Now this recipe said that adding pectin wasn't needed to set the jam because of the amount of pectin already present in the skin and pith of the citrus fruit. But from what I read, that would only be true if you used seville oranges and not sweet oranges. And I was having issues with it not jelling up so opted to add 2 packages of pectin. I mixed them with a cup of sugar before stirring it all in.
The original recipe says to cook it until it's 220 degrees fahrenheit. If you don't have a thermometer, put a spoonful of the marmalade on a cool plate. If it's still runny after cooling for a minute, keep simmering a little longer. I cooked mine for about 30 minutes more before I was happy with the consistency.

Now I was pretty pleased with how my marmalade experience was turning out, so at this point got to thinking about what else I could do to perhaps punch up the flavor a bit?


How about this?


Or this even...


Heh heh heh!

Okay I didn't really think the onion would taste very good but did opt to try mixing in the chili pepper to a few jars. I just crushed the pepper into the bottom of a 32 oz measuring cup and stirred in four cups of marmalade.


Now at this point I was done. I opted to freeze most of the marmalade in plastic freezer containers but I did put some in jars for immediate eating.


And eating I did!

I ate it with homemade scones!


And my, oh my, is it ever delicious!


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