Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Capturing Sunshine in a Jar - Honey Blood Orange Marmalade (Part 1)

Spring is a bittersweet time for me.  Sweet, as the tree buds begin to unfurl with that intense green, bringing the land back to verdant life.  Bitter, for I must bid a sad farewell to my favorite winter time treats.  For it is the Spring that heralds the end of Blood Orange and Meyer Lemon season.  :(  But all is not lost.  At least not this year.

I watched.  I waited.  I planned.  I schemed.  I snatched up some of the last Blood Oranges that were available this year.    Muah ha ha ha ha!  

Now is the time to set my master plan in motion........  to preserve their Blood Orange-ness, to be enjoyed during the Spring, Summer and Autumn months which, though overflowing with warmth and sunshine, are sadly devoid of the bright and sunny flavor of Blood Oranges.

Blood Orange Marmalade is my master plan.  It's a bit of a departure from the famous Dundee brand Marmalade, made with Seville Oranges, but I feel that this is the best way for me to preserve my Blood Oranges for future enjoyment.

There is no way around it.  Making marmalade is more time consuming than making jam or jelly.  It's a big chore, and as such, it takes a couple days.  Granted, 8 -12 hours of that is waiting time.  So technically, if you started early in the morning, you could make it in a single day.  I didn't get started till this afternoon, so it will take me 2 days to complete.

This is mainly because I am being stubborn.  I know, you are gasping with surprise, right?   The whole process can be sped up if you add powdered or liquid pectin from the store, BUT I am all about the good old fashioned way of doing it.  The way it was done before you could buy pectin in a box, or pouch, from the grocery store.  You see, the membranes and pips of the orange contain a significant amount of pectin.  So I am boiling and soaking them to release as much pectin as possible in order to achieve a good set on my marmalade.  I feel that it will give my marmalade a more authentic flavor.  Then again, maybe not.... Who knows, it's not like store bought pectin actually tastes like the apples that it is made from.  So lets just call it an OCD moment and leave it at that. :)

I am breaking the post up into 2 parts, simply because of the wait time on the pectin transfusion.

So let's get started, cause day 1 takes the most effort........

Blood Orange Marmalade

9 Blood Oranges
2 Lemons
6 cups Water
1-2 cups Orange Blossom Honey (this will be determined by the amount of liquid you have left over after you simmer the juice and zest together with the membranes)
1-2 cups Granulated Sugar (again, this will be determined by the amount of liquid you have left over after you simmer the juice and zest together with the membranes)

Begin by removing the peel from the Blood Oranges with a vegetable peeler. (this will take off the outer layer and leave most of the pith behind.... The pith is bitter, so you don't want that part.)

Next, julienne the peelings to your chosen size. (I like mine very finely julienne, you can opt for simply chopping if you like, or mincing, or dicing, or matchsticks... Your choice)

This is the part that takes the most time.... because I wanted my strands of peel to be super fine.
You should end up with about 2 cups worth of Blood Orange Zest.

Place the julienne zest into a medium pot and cover with about 6 cups of water.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour.

While the zest is simmering, begin juicing the Blood Oranges and the Lemons. (be very careful with the Blood Oranges, the pith is much more delicate and they will rip and tear very easily)

Filter the juice into a measuring cup, reserving the pulp.

Your should have 2 cups worth of juice.

Next, begin scraping the remaining membranes or the Blood Oranges, as well as the Lemons, away from the piths using a knife or a spoon; whichever is easiest for you.

Place all the scraped membranes, pips and the pulp you strained out of the juice into a large doubled square of cheese cloth.

Tie the cheese cloth into a nice little bundle with kitchen twine.

The zest should be done cooking by now, so strain it and reserve the liquid.  (You should have about 4 cups.)

Add 4 cups of the zest liquid, along with the zest, into a large pot.

Add the strained juice.

Place the bundle of membranes, pips and pulp into the pot as well.

Bring to a boil, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and cover.... letting it sit for 8-12 hours and allow as much pectin as possible to permeate the liquid.

And that is the first part....   Whew!

Stay tuned for Day 2 when we turn this sticky messy Blood Orange Soup into beautiful jars full of sunshine.


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