RECIPE: Orange-Cranberry Marmalade

A month and a half in and it's finally beginning to feel like Fall. The air is cool (for LA), crisp and clear. I get to wear hats and finger-less mittens (no, I don't really need them). Trader Joe's is selling those cinnamon scented brooms you can smell a mile away. Hiking in the sun is actually tolerable. And the markets boast cool weather crops like pumpkins, pomegranates, parsnips and mandarins...and, one of my favorites, cranberries! I will stock up and stash as much as my freezer will hold to use for months to come. I'll add them to my juicer to get a dose of antioxidants and use the pulp for my Blueberry-Juice Pulp Bran Muffins.

Off to the General Bottle Supply for some jars and lids. It's time to make a new flavor! Orange-Cranberry. This marmalade is so good I wish I could get cranberries year round! It's perfectly balanced which is not easy to achieve as oranges and cranberries are both rather dominating flavors. It tastes like orange marmalade with a bold aftertaste of cranberry. I've kept the berries whole so you get some nice texture from both the orange peel and the berries. Plus it's a gorgeous ruby red! Top your morning yogurt with it, how about a dollop on a crispy English muffin or serve it with buttermilk biscuits at Thanksgiving? It's all good. (Recipe to follow).

Now, before you get started I highly recommend you watch this video of June Taylor on making marmalade. It inspired me to face my fears and make my own. This is an old school process and requires time, a sort of zen-like state of mind and a fair degree of nerdiness which I proudly possess. 

ORANGE-CRANBERRY MARMALADE - 2 Batches Makes about 1 dozen 9oz jars. (it requires a lot of time so start early!)

2 lbs oranges, divided
2 lbs tangerines, divided
8 cups fresh cranberries, divided (Costco sells them currently)
zest from 2 limes, divided (use a Microplane or the finest holes on a box grater for the white pith is especially bitter)
1 cup orange peel, white pith cut away and slivered, divided
1 cup tangerine peel, white pith cut away and slivered, divided
½ cup lemon peel, white pith cut away and slivered, divided
5 lb 4oz sugar, divided (2 lbs 10oz per batch)
6 cups of water (3 cups per batch)
3/4 cups lemon juice per batch

Measuring cups - I like to use plastic storage containers with a minimum 4 cup capacity. I also use a glass 4 cup measure. Use whatever you like but any storage container that has a measured capacity is very handy. It also allows you to seal it up and store in the icebox. Sometimes I'll prep everything the day before, refrigerate, then finish the following day.

Candy thermometer - This allows you to measure the gelling temp of 222˚. Duh! But to be honest I don't use mine anymore. I just go by time, feel and sight. And testing for gelling on the plate.

1 large pot for boiling the marmalade - I use a heavy bottomed stock pot that holds about 12 quarts. Sometimes the marmalade will bubble up quite high and with a shallow pot it will surely boil over. You really, really don't want that.

2 saucers or small plates - I put them in the freezer so when it's time to check for gelling they're nice and cold to speed up the process.

1 dozen glass jars and lids - Mason jars with two-piece lids are fine. I use commercial jars with lug caps. Here's a quick and simple way to sterilize jars.

If you're using mason jars you might want to purchase a canning funnel. Then it makes the job easier and less messy. 

Ladle - for stirring and ladling marmalade into jars. You can try using a glass measuring cup with a spout to pour into the jars if that works better for you. 

Wire cooling rack

MISC - I like to have a damp paper towel or cloth to wipe up spills and drips on the jars. I also use it to hold on to the jar when screwing on the lid. You can also use those thick rubber lined gloves like June's.

First wash the oranges with soap and water. I use a sponge and really scrub them removing any wax or coating that may be present. Better yet, try and get organic and simply rinse.

With a knife top and tail each orange to provide a stable base. Set the orange on a cut end. Now from the top to the bottom, slice off a section of peel following the curve of the orange with the flat edge of your knife making sure to remove as much of the pith as possible. Continue this process all the way around until the peel is removed. In this next step I do it differently than June. I like to hold the orange over a bowl to catch the juice as you very carefully slice along the membrane towards the center of the orange and back up removing the segment. Continue this procedure for the rest of the oranges. If you need further instruction, this gal does a great job showing you how to do it!

For the peels that go into the marmalade: You'll want to set aside the prettiest peels, free of blemishes for this. With a very sharp boning knife (I like these since they're very thin and flexible but a paring knife should be fine, too) filet the orange peels by laying them flat on a cutting surface. It's not unlike filleting a fish! You want to remove all of the white pith. This takes a bit of practice but it's worth the effort because in doing so it removes a lot of the bitter element you find in most marmalade. The peel then gets chopped however you like it. In my case I prefer to julienne them.

First cooking stage: So as I mentioned above, the zest, orange segments, cranberries, water and jelly bag with the seeds and membranes all get boiled for about 20 minutes until the zest is tender. Now comes the fun part. After the jelly bag is cool enough to handle (I stick in in the icebox for about 20 minutes) you have to knead, and squeeze the bag until the pectin, which is the whitish gel, seeps through the bag. And you knead and squeeze and scrape the bag over the cooked oranges for, oh, I'd say about 20 minutes to half an hour until it seems like your hands are going to fall off. (the photos are from a batch of plain orange marmalade)


Second cooking stage: Now to make the marmalade! At this point I like to have my lids and jars ready. My lids sit in pot with warm water until ready to use. With the addition of sugar and lemon juice the mixture is boiled for another 30 or so minutes until it reaches the setting temperature (222˚ on a candy thermometer). If it's gelling you'll immediately take it off the heat, ladle into hot sterilized jars and screw on the lids. Set onto a cooling rack undisturbed to allow the lids to form a vacuum. You'll know when they've sealed when the tops of the lids don't give when you push on them. Or in the case of mason jars you'll hear that characteristic "ping!".

About gelling: You really need to check on the pot fairly often, stirring and skimming any excess foam. Not everyone's stove has the same heat output. Like mine, for instance, is a 40 year old gas range which is not unlike an Easy Bake oven. I have to put the lid on to help build up heat to reach the setting temp and most of the time 30 minutes isn't enough. However, it's those last couple of minutes that are crucial. It can quickly go from marmalade to burnt so stay with it and test for gelling often at this stage.

So, I do hope you give it a try. It's labor intensive, but to me, it's worth it. But if it's just too much bother please visit my Etsy Shop and choose from three different delectable flavors!

Popular Posts