(makes 10 half pint jars)
Orange marmalade is a winter delight. When my garden plot freezes and wears a blanket of snow, I begin looking forward to the brightly colored displays of citrus fruits at my local market.
When I first started making my own jams and jellies, I shied away from marmalade. Many of the recipes I found were pretty, well, precious. I wasn’t interested in the many, many steps and copious amounts of time required. Eventually, I came up with this. Four ingredients, ten simple steps, and maybe two hours of time. The end result? Ten half pint jars of tangy, citrusy goodness – perfect for spreading on toast or muffins, drizzling over a winter salad (see below), or eating right out of the jar with a spoon. I won’t tell.
4 pounds of organic oranges (about 8 organic oranges)*
1 1/2 cups water
6 cups white sugar
1 pouch (3 ounces) liquid pectin
*Yes, your oranges really, really do need to be organic. Why? Because marmalade uses the peel. Do you want to eat orange peel that has been treated or sprayed? Neither do I.
Step 1) Wash your oranges. No really, WASH your oranges. Scrub them in hot water for a few minutes. You’re eating the peel, remember?
Step 2) Peel your oranges with a vegetable peeler. This is surprisingly fast, and works well to separate the thin layer of bright orange zest (which you want) from the thick layer of bitter white pith (which you do NOT want).
Step 3) Slice your orange peels into thin strips using a paring knife. My strips ended up being about 1/4 inch wide and 2 to 3 inches long. The dimensions aren’t terribly important.
Step 4) Add your sliced orange peel to a large pot. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
Step 5) While the peels are simmering, remove the white pith from your oranges. Pull the oranges apart into halves and remove the spongy white center. Remove the seeds, if needed. [It is possible to purchase organic, seedless oranges. Just sayin’.] The idea here is to have as much “orange” and as little “white” as possible. As you are working with your oranges, save all the juice. Working over a baking pan with shallow sides helps. Chop up your oranges into little bite size pieces.
Step 6) After the peels have simmered for 20 minutes, add the chopped oranges and any juice you’ve collected. Simmer, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.
Step 7) Add 6 cups of white sugar to the pot, keep stirring, and bring that pot to a Mad Boil… the kind of boil that is too fierce to calm down, even with stirring!
Step 8) Once you have achieved a Mad Boil, add your pectin. Continue stirring and boiling for one more minute. Remove from heat. Your kitchen will smell fantastic right about now.
Step 9) Review Crowded Earth Kitchen’s canning guidelines, and fill your sterilized, half pint canning jars. Be sure to leave 1/4 inch of headspace. Place lids and bands on your jars, and process in a boiling water bath for 1o minutes.
Step 10) Grab a big spoon and your cooking pot, which probably has a few tastes of marmalade left at the bottom. It would be a shame to let those tastes go to waste, right? Don’t burn yourself.
That’s it! Now, let’s do something more respectable with our marmalade than lick the pot…
Spinach-Pomegranate Citrus Salad
(makes 4 generous servings)
This might be the world’s easiest winter salad. It’s also a nutritional powerhouse, containing iron in addition to Vitamin C and other antioxidants. During cold and flu season, we need all the help we can get!
Simply fill a serving bowl with 8 cups of a 50/50 mixture of baby spinach and mixed salad greens. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of fresh pomegranate arils. Peel 2 oranges or clementines, slice, and tuck into salad. Serve with a drizzle of orange marmalade.