Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sour Orange Marmalade

We have a normal orange tree and a tree that gives sour oranges... and after devouring every single one of the oranges from the sweet tree, we are always at a loss as to what to do with the fruit from other one. My mother helped me to make orange marmalade-- we improvised using her canning knowledge (she makes pear jelly every year), and quantities from a pectin package. Looking up recipes on the Internet (with fancier titles like "Valencia Orange Marmalade), I was deterred by how elaborate they were, but she had some good short cuts, so we didn't need muslin or a canning set-up to boil the jars later. With some homemade Moroccan bread Nour baked up at the end of the day, our marmalade ended up delicious, one of those glad-to-live-in-Florida experiences. I probably wouldn't make these without organic oranges just out of nervousness for all the chemicals, but since our trees have nothing on them, it's safe. For future reference, here's how we did it:

Sour Orange Marmalade

7 sour oranges
1 sweet navel orange
10 cups sugar (slightly less than a 5 lb. bag)
2 packages of sure-jell pectin (one box had 2 packages in it)
1 package canning wax (available at most grocery stores)
Assortment of jelly jars (also available at grocery stores, or Target)
Large pot, Dutch oven size

Using a vegetable peeler, remove just the orange part of the peel from the oranges. Chop up into small pieces, place peels in Dutch oven. Add 1 1/2 cups water and 1/8 tsp. baking soda, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, peel off the white part and throw it out. Squeeze the juice into a large bowl, then chop up the orange pieces, removing seeds, and throw the orange pieces into the bowl too. After peels have simmered 20 minutes, add the orange pieces and juice from the bowl, simmer 10 minutes.

You can stop here and do the rest another day if you want, putting it all in the fridge. The final steps: canning. It's not as difficult as it sounds. Wash your jars in hot, soapy water, rinse and drain. Take the lids and put them in a pot with boiling water for a few minutes, drain that.

Now find out how many cups of the juice/peel mixture you have. For six cups of the juice/peel mix, you need 10 cups sugar. We had 7 cups of juice/peel, so we measured out 11 cups sugar. Stir all the sugar into the juice/peel mixture, then bring to a full rolling boil. Stir in both packages of pectin. Return to a full, rolling boil and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Ladle jelly into jars, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top. Wipe the inside of the jar rim with a clean, wet paper towel to make sure no juice is left on the inner rim. In a saucepan, melt the block of wax. You'll do two stages of pouring wax on top of the jelly-- this preserves it so you don't get sick. (If there's one jar you're going to eat right away, you don't need to do the wax with this one). After jars are filled with jelly, pour wax on top, leaving about 1/4 inch. Let it set-- could take 30 minutes to an hour. When it's obviously set (it appears white), melt some more wax or re-melt what you might have in the saucepan, and pour this on top of the other wax layer. Let this set, too-- another 30 minutes or so. When it's also dry, squeeze the lids on tightly. And that's all there is to it.

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