Seville oranges, Blood oranges, and Meyer lemons are all in season and there are fun and tasty things you can make with them, including marmalade.
In the English language, marmalade is any fruit preserve with bits and chunks of citrus peel in it. This would include such creations as lime marmalade, lemon marmalade, the traditional orange marmalade (using Seville oranges), sweet orange marmalade, mandarin marmalade, or even grapefruit marmalade. You can mix, match and combined, as well.
The process of making marmalade is relatively simple – boil fruit juice that contains bits and chunks of peel. Nuances lie in the amount of pectin (for the curious, pectin is a polysaccharide – long carbohydrate molecules of repeated monomer units joined together by glycosidic bonds). Pectin is needed in the marmalade (or any jam or jelly) to give the final product a firmer, less liquid (semi-solid) consistency. Commercially, pectin is produced from citrus peels — so, we are in the right realm for marmalade jelling or setting just by the fact we are using citrus fruits.
First up on my marmalade quest, traditional Seville orange marmalade. In my opinion, this was the simplest form to make. What you will need (not inclusive):
- Two (2) pounds (slightly less than a kilogram) of Seville, or Bitter oranges
- Food processor
- Large four (2) quart (four litre) pot
- Cane sugar
- Fresh water
Wash oranges, then using a sharp knife, remove any blemishes or dark spots that maybe on the peel. Do not remove the peel. Cut the oranges in half; remove any seeds you see. Cut each half in half, again, and remove any seeds (whether on the surface or just visible beneath); repeat the halving of pieces and seed removal until you have seedless, one inch (two centimetre) pieces.
Put a small saucer or plate into the freezer; you will need it later.
Next, in small batches, put the cut orange pieces into your food processor. (Helpful hint: make sure the cover is secured on your food processor; if not, you will end up with orange juice sprayed around your kitchen — like I did.) Pour the chopped oranges into your four quart pot; add a cup of sugar and a cup of water; begin to bring to a boil.
This is where it turns into less procedural recipe and more into cooking; without burning yourself, begin to sample the mixture. Too bitter, add more of sugar. Appearing too thick, add more water and turn the heat down slightly.
You will want to boil the delicious orange mixture for at least 30 to 45 minutes; this will give the pectin in the peels time to leach out.
Take out the plate you put into the freezer earlier, and take a teaspoon of your hot mixture and drip it onto the plate; if the mixture "wrinkles" up or appears instantly firm, your marmalade is done. If it still appears slightly runny, boil it down for a bit more.
Once you feel the marmalade is complete, put it into clean jars.
The other varieties of marmalade, I have not quite mastered, yet. The Meyer lemon marmalade had to be reboiled and pectin added; in the end the result is quite edible, but has a slightly gritty texture.
The blood orange marmalade required a little extra pectin, but the mixture frothed toward the end of the boil and resulted in air bubbles being trapped; it is not quite appealing in looks