Marmalade!

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I am quite an enthusiastic canner.  It’s how I was brought up — my mom makes pickles, chutneys, preserves, and just bought a dehydrator.  And pickles are kind of big deal in our family, in that we all love them.  Especially me.  (Have you tried Penny Cluse’s new pickles?)  My favorite childhood sandwich is peanut butter and pickle (bread and butters, of course).

My sister loves pickles if they’re not too vinagery, and she does love to preserve.  She got me a great preserving cookbook for Christmas, and the introduction actually says…”we certainly enjoy eating fresh produce.  But deep within most of us lurks a desire to preserve these flavors for future enjoyment.”

Too true, Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard, too true.  I like making jam way more than I like eating jam.  Actually, I don’t even like making jam that much, I like the idea of making jam.  Actually making jam is fun the first hour, and the second and third hours you are really hot from stirring something for hours, and you start to realize how much sugar you have to put in the jam.  But I have the desire for preserving!  Summer’s bounty come midwynter.  You know!

ANYWAY………on Monday I finally cracked the ol’ cookbook and made marmalade.  To make real (ie real delicious) marmalade you use Seville oranges, which are too bitter to eat and therefore perfect for this, and are only in season in Jan and Feb (now at City Market, FYI).  Here is what you do, and of course I made a bunch of alterations to the recipe……I am into cookbooks these days but still can’t bring myself to follow things to the letter:

4 seville oranges

2 lemons

4 cups water

1/4 tsp baking soda

4 cups sugar

Wash and peel the oranges with a knife, veg peeler, or zester.  Chop that peel up into little bits, or long stringy bits, which I prefer, and put them in a large, non-reactive pot.  Slice up the lemons (with the skin on) and add them too.  I also threw in about a tablespoon of minced fresh ginger, which never hurt anything.  Add the water, cover, and boil gently for about 25 mins.

While that’s happening, peel the rest of the white rind from the oranges.  That’s the most bitter part.  Cut them in half, de-seed them over a bowl to catch the juices, and then puree the pulp in a food processor.  If you don’t have one, I’m sure you could just scrape the pulp insides and it would be fine.  Add the pulp and the baking soda (who knows why, it’s a mystery!) to your pot-o-rinds, and keep boiling gently away.  Keep the pot covered, but stir it pretty frequently.

Then add the sugar.  I was grossed out by 4 cups of sugar and was tempted to add less, but don’t be!  Your marmalade will be unbearably bitter otherwise, and probably won’t set well.  Return to a boil and boil rapidly, uncovered and stirring a lot.  You’re going to stir it until it gels.  It says about 20 minutes, but mine definitely took longer than that.  In fact, it didn’t truly set until after I’d taken it off the heat, which is very common.  The test I followed was to dip a spoon in the marmalade, then let the liquid drip off the spoon.  It will change from dripping single drops, to the drops joining together to form a little sheet.  Mine was sort of sheeting when I turned it off.

I canned some of mine (I won’t tell you how to can, you can figure that out) for some lucky friends, and put some right in the fridge.  Most importantly, I made some toast and put butter on it and then spread it really thickly with warm, fresh, gummy, full of rinds, marmalade!!!!!!!!!!!  It is so bitter and so sweet and so sour and so orangey.  I really think that maybe this is one of the better things I’ve ever made.  Or maybe marmalade is just clearly one of the preserves worth preserving — it’s just way more worth the effort than some plain old raspberry jam.

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