Today has been the perfect kitchen day. It’s been snowing since yesterday, and a bit too chilly for me to want to venture outdoors (single digits). And so I happily fill my warm kitchen with the smells of comfort. I’m glad to have a window by my kitchen sink so that I can take in the wintery view.
I started a batch of marmalade yesterday using the remainder of the Seville oranges we ordered last week. Marmalade is certainly a labor of love, being a three day process, but the rewarding bright flavor is worth it. Plus, the jewel-like jars make beautiful, thoughtful gifts. There’s nothing like homemade!
Before you begin a long recipe such as this, read through it a few times to get an understanding of the steps. That way you won’t feel overwhelmed. I know this is a time-consuming recipe, but if you have the produce, preserving is an incredibly satisfying ordeal. Not to mention the countless ways to use your jam besides simply as a condiment.
A few of my favorite uses are as a tart filling, cheesecake topping, the glaze for a ham or pork roast, swirled into muffin batter, sandwiched between scone dough before baking, and in Orange Marmalade Cookies.
This recipes comes from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders. It truly is the best modern jam book there is. Countless recipes and detailed instructions make jam-making approachable for anyone. I highly recommend it.
Before you make this recipe, you’ll want to have about 10-12 clean and sterilized 8 oz jars. Here are instructions on sterilizing from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook:
Place your perfectly clean jars upright on a baking sheet with an equal number of clean unused lids. Put the sheet in a preheated 250 F oven. They should remain in the oven for a minimum of 30 minutes to ensure they are heated through. Remove them from the oven right when you need to fill them. After you have filled them, leaving 1/4″ of room at the top, wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth. Put the lids on, being careful to screw them on just until they are snug, and replace the jars back in the oven for 15 minutes to ensure that they are completely sterilized. They will seal as they cool.
Sometimes the jars can become a little too hot when using this method, so before filling them, test their temperatures first. Pour a little jam into one, and if it bubbles or boils in the jar, wait a few moments before filling the jars.
After removing the jars from the oven, place them 1″ apart on a drying rack to set overnight at room temperature. Do not jiggle or disturb the jars during this time as this may disrupt their ability to set correctly and seal. As the jars cool, you will hear little pops as the lids seal. Before putting them away the following day, test the lid tops to verify they have sealed- the lid should be curving in very slightly in the middle. If any jars have not sealed, store them in the refrigerator for safekeeping.
To store sealed preserves, label and date them and keep them in a cool, dark place until you open them. After opening a jar, keep in the refrigerator. The sealed jars will keep about a year.
Note: This recipe is not much different to make at sea level versus high altitude. Cooking the jam and blanching the fruit may take slightly longer at high altitude.
How to make this recipe:
- 3 lbs 3 oz Seville oranges, cut into eighths
- 2 lbs seeded Seville oranges, halved crosswise, each half cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced crosswise as thinly as possible
- 5 lbs 3 oz sugar
- 3½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ ounce vanilla extract
- 1½ oz amber or dark rum (optional)
- Day 1:
- Place the orange eighths in a nonreactive kettle where they will fit snugly in a single layer. Add enough cold water for the fruit to bob freely. Cover tightly and let rest overnight at room temperature.
- Day 2:
- Bring the pan with the orange eighths to a boil, then decrease the heat to a lively simmer.
- Cook, covered for 3 hours or until they are very soft and their liquid has become slightly syrupy.
- As the fruit cooks, stir it gently every 30 minutes or so, adding a little more water as necessary. The water level should stay consistently high enough for the fruit to remain submerged as it cooks.
- When the orange eighths have finished, strain their juice by pouring the hot fruit and liquid into a medium strainer suspended over a heatproof storage container or nonreactive saucepan.
- Cover the entire setup well with plastic wrap and let drip overnight at room temperature.
- Meanwhile, prepare the thinly sliced oranges. Place the slices in a wide stainless steel kettle and cover amply with cold water.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat and simmer for five minutes.
- Drain, discarding the liquid.
- Return orange slices to kettle and add enough cold water to cover them by 1". Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease heat to medium and cook, covered, at a lively simmer for 2 hours or until the fruit is very tender.
- As the fruit cooks, stir it gently every 30 minutes or so, adding a little water if necessary.
- The water level should remain consistently high enough for the fruit to remain submerged as it cooks.
- Remove the pan from the heat, cover tightly, and let rest overnight at room temperature.
- Day 3:
- Place a saucer with five metal spoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the marmalade later.
- Remove the plastic wrap from the orange eighths and their juice and discard the oranges.
- Strain the juice well through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any lingering solids.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cooked orange juice, fresh lemon juice, and orange slices and their liquid, stirring well.
- Transfer to an 11 or 12-quart copper preserving pan or wide nonreactive kettle.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Cook for 5 minutes then add the vanilla.
- Continue cooking the marmalade at a rapid boil over high heat for a minimum of 20 minutes, but this may take longer depending on your individual stove, pan, or altitude.
- As it gets close to being done, stir it slowly every minute or two to prevent burning, decreasing the heat a tiny bit if necessary.
- The marmalade is ready for testing when its color darkens slightly and its bubbles become very small.
- The setting point can be tested by removing the marmalade from the heat and transferring a small half-spoonful onto one of the frozen spoons.
- Replace the spoon in the freezer for a few minutes then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon- it should be neither warm or cold; if still warm return it to the freezer for a moment.
- Tilt the spoon vertically to see whether the marmalade runs- if it doe not run, and its top layer has thickened to a jelly consistency, it is done. If it runs, cook for another few minutes, stirring, and test again as needed.
- When the marmalade is nearly done, add the rum, if using.
- When the marmalade is finished cooking, turn off the heat but do not stir. Skim off any surface foam and discard.
- Pour the marmalade into sterilized jars and process as explained earlier in the post in the sterilization section.
- Makes ten to twelve 8 oz jars.
Adapted from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders