While the rest of the country seems to be entrenched in a real-life version of Disney’s Frozen–a nightmare of blizzards and record low temps–we here in the Phoenix Valley are enjoying our 9th or 10th day of sunshine with temperatures in the upper 60s/low 70s. It was actually getting a little too hot for me this afternoon as I sat on my patio in a light sweater. (Yeah, I am going to be that person who rubs it in. The rest of you get gorgeous summers, falls, and springs while we hide in our air conditioning, the sun turning our iPhones into molten heaps in our cars.)
As I mentioned last time, winter in the valley is the time for citrus–mountains of citrus in every grocery store, citrus dropping from trees and rolling giddily in the street, and bags of excess citrus dropped at your door. After taking care of my free grapefruit, it was time to move on to the oranges included in the bag. It didn’t take long to formulate a plan: marmalade! Having made a batch last year, I wanted to try it again with less sugar. The sickening post-breakfast sugar crash every time I ate marmalade on my toast just wasn’t working with my schedule–you know, the one where I actually need to take care of my children and run errands and all that jazz. This time I decided to slash the sugar by half of what Ina Garten calls for in her recipe (the one I used last year). I must say I’m pleased with the result. While cutting back so significantly on the sugar definitely increased the cooking time–I’m sure there’s some chemical reason why–it was worth it. It came out sweet enough with the real taste of citrus behind it, like a tangy lemonade. Also, if you’re looking at this recipe and wondering when you’ll find the time to make it (yes, it is time-consuming, though not labor-intensive) like most jam/jelly recipes, it yields a high quantity, so your labor is not in vain. But if you’re a planner, a weekend day might be the best choice for when to make this particular recipe.
Lastly, cool fact: the word “marmalade” has been in use in English since 1480 and was originally a Portuguese specialty made from quince. Ever had a quince? Me, neither. Though surprisingly, this marmalade includes both oranges and lemons. Yum!
(Adapted from Ina Garten)
4 large seedless oranges
4 c. sugar
Cut the oranges and lemons in half cross-wise, then into very thin half-moon slices. (Use a mandoline if you have one.) Discard seeds. Place fruit slices and their juices in a large stainless steel pot. Add 8 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Bring to room temperature and leave covered overnight.
The next day, bring the mixture back to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for two hours. Turn the heat up to medium and boil, stirring often, another 30-45 minutes, or until it reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer. (Alternatively, if you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can use the cold plate test: scoop a small amount of the mixture onto a spoon and place on a plate in the freezer. Test marmalade consistency when cool but not cold. If it is too runny, it needs more boiling time. If too sticky, add more water. If consistency is to your liking, you’re done!)
Pour marmalade into clean canning jars and seal with the lids. If canning, process the jars in a water bath for 15 minutes. Otherwise, store in the refrigerator for best results. (And give a few away as gifts!)
Makes 3-4 pints.