Wed 1 Jun 2011
Part of me wonders if the trepidation with which I approached this recipe is what made it not turn out. Like the Dog Whisperer or a lion tamer would say, “They can smell your fear.”
How exactly an orange develops a sense of smell, I don’t know, but those oranges knew I was worried about my marmalade making skills. Even if they didn’t smell my fear, they certainly didn’t agree to be good little oranges and turn into delicious marmalade.
We came into a glut of oranges because there was extra food left over after an exercise with Mister’s work, and to our house came a bunch of oranges, a watermelon, 3 loaves of garlic bread (mmm… garlic bread), and a 4 L carton of coleslaw…
I looked at my pile of oranges and immediately started dreaming of marmalade, sticky sweet marmalade, home made and sealed into jars all by myself. A very Dana type of dream to have. So I selected my recipe, read up on the chemical basis of jellying, researched points of view on marmalade making, and set out.
Has anyone else heard of warming sugar when making preserves? Darina Allen, the writer of the recipe I used for the marmalade, suggests heating the sugar you will be using in a metal bowl in the oven, so that the sugar is closer in temperature to the fruit component when it is added. She writes that warmed sugar will help the mixture return to a boil more quickly after the sugar addition, and the quicker the preserve is made the fresher it will taste. I definitely plan on trying this method again when I make a different preserve, as the rationale makes sense to me. My marmalade (or rather orange peel in juice) is fresh tasting, it just didn’t gel.
Next time there’s a stack of oranges in front of me, I will try again. I want to make my own marmalade, I just don’t know why it didn’t work. Any advice?
Whole Orange Marmalade
(from Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking)Ingredients
4 1/2 pounds oranges
5 1/4 quarts water
5 Cups sugarDirections
- Wash the oranges and put them into a very large saucepan or stock pot with the water.
- Put an inverted plate atop the oranges to help keep them submerged in the water.
- Bring to a simmer, and simmer for 2 hours until the oranges are quite soft.
- Remove the oranges from the water and reserve the liquid. Allow both to cool. (This is a good point to leave everything overnight, if you wish)
- Put a cutting board into a roasting pan or other container with sides so that you won’t lose any juice that escapes from the oranges.
- Cut the oranges in half, scoop out the soft centers. Slice the peel superfine and put the seeds into a cheesecloth bag.
- Into the pot of reserved cooking liquid, add any juices escaped from the oranges, the sliced peel and the cheesecloth bag.
- Bring to a boil and reduce by half.
- Pour the sugar into an oven safe bowl, and heat it in a 300° oven for about 15 minutes. The sugar should not melt, though it will likely get sticky so it will form a mold of the bowl.
- Add the warmed sugar to the pot, stirring briskly until dissolved.
- Boil fast until the setting point is reached (this is what never happened for me).
- Pot in sterilized jars and seal immediately.
Oh how I wish these jars were not full of orange peel in syrup. Maybe it would be good on ice cream? Do you have any preserving or marmalade making advice for this trepidatious cook?