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My parents arrival brought more than squeals of joy from the girls and an abundance of avocados. There were also lemons and oranges from their very own trees. The primary lemon recipe I want to share will not be ready until Mid-May (That’s right: Limoncello is under way!) but three recipes utilizing the oranges have been waiting their turn to be posted. Avocado recipes aside, I turned my attention to the citrus fruit. For three days my house smelled of oranges and sugar…and that third day it smelled of chocolate to boot! Marmalade, Candied Orange Peels dipped in chocolate, and Orange-Chocolate Chunk cookies were all produced.

Maybe it was the horror of realizing I used approximately 10 pounds of sugar in three days but by the end of those cooking endeavors I decided that I wanted to cut down on our consumption of processed sugar. And so, I sat on these recipes for two weeks. I felt guilty publishing them while at the same time formulating recipe ideas that would ultimately replace refined sugar laden recipes like these.

Dabbling in the creation of my own recipes will take time, energy, and patience. I hope to soon share successes (and failures?) in the adventures of developing treats that feature natural sweeteners. In the mean time, I decided there is a time and a place for all things including: delicious Marmalade, chocolate dipped Candied Orange Peels, and Orange-Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Today I share with you Orange Marmalade.

I used the ever-trustworthy Alton Brown’s marmalade recipe. The arrival of my newly purchased mandoline coincided with my parent’s delivery of about 40 juicy and sweet oranges. My mom calls their citrus “organic by neglect” which makes them ideal for cooking with. It was the perfect excuse to try out my new kitchen toy.

Marmalade

  • 1 3/4 pounds oranges, 4 to 5 medium
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 pounds plus 12 ounces sugar
  • Special Equipment: 10 (8-ounce) canning jars with rings and lids, funnel, tongs, ladle, and 12-quart pot

Directions

Wash the oranges and lemon thoroughly. Cut the oranges into 1/8-inch slices using a mandoline, removing the seeds as you go. Stack the orange slices and cut them into quarters.

Place the oranges into an 8-quart stainless steel pot. Add the lemon zest and juice and the water to the pot, set over high heat and bring to a boil, approximately 10 minutes. Once boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 40 minutes or until the fruit is very soft.

Alton recommends getting your canning tools ready at this point. I’m going to be honest with you….I did not go through all the canning hoopla. Rather than worrying about canning it properly so it can be stored for a year, I give it away and tell people to keep it refrigerated and enjoy within the next couple of months. I have also been known to bribe people to return the jars (No rush! Whenever they are done!) by promising a jar of whatever-I-make next if they do. It keeps my friends happy with fun food and my husband happy that I’m not constantly buying new jars. 🙂 

Meanwhile, place a small plate in the freezer. Increase the heat under the orange mixture to return to full boil. Add the sugar and stir the mixture continually, until it reaches 222 to 223 degrees F on a candy thermometer, and darkens in color, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. This step took me longer but that may be due to living at high altitude. You may need to adjust the heat in order to prevent boil over. Test the readiness of the marmalade by placing a teaspoon of the mixture onto the chilled plate and allowing it to sit for 30 seconds. Tilt the plate. The mixture should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If mixture is thin and runs easily, it is not ready.

Place a canning funnel onto the top of 1 of the jars and ladle in the marmalade just to below the bottom of the threads of the jar. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used. The amount of marmalade may vary by 1 to 2 jars. Wipe the rims and threads of the jars with a moist paper towel and top each with a lid. Place a ring on each jar and tighten. When cooled refrigerate and use within 2-3 months. 

This is now Trinity’s favorite pairing with peanut butter for school lunches. Lilly pulls out the pieces of orange peel and sets them aside, which suits Trinity just fine as she gets to eat the extra “candy orange” as she calls it. I like toasting a whole wheat english muffin, spreading it with goat cheese and topping it off with this marmalade. Andy likes it over nonfat plain Greek Yogurt. However you enjoy it, I think it is a recipe worth trying!

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