In my perfect world I have fresh clean produce to pickle, jam and jelly on a regular basis. Saying that makes it seem like I’m an expert preserver, but thats also in my dreams. When I do come across something amazing, like concord grapes in the fall or strawberries in June, and I have time, then I start at square one trying to speed-learn the technique needed. Sweetness (how much sugar? How sweet do you like it?), doneness? (soft ball stage is not something you perform on! It’s a sugar temperature). Candy thermometers, clean jars, and boiling water are usually involved too. So I take the easy way out, making preserves that require freezing or refrigeration. Since I so rarely make jam or jelly it’s devoured before it spends much time in either place.
As for marmalade, I have never ever made it. My friend passed along a box of calamondin oranges (a cross between a tangerine and a kumquat) from her friend Laurie at Calamondin Cafe in Florida. After reading everything I could find, I settled on the process to use. On the day after the fruit cooked, and before adding the sugar, I met Michelle Jean who happens to import raw, hand-milled sugar from her native Haiti. With such special fruit, I was lucky to find her Zesaraw sugar at a local market. This sugar has a rich and deep flavor, but the oranges have a strong, bitter taste and I pictured the two making a beautiful pair, With so much flavor going on, I figured that it could be a little less sweet. This quantity made four jars. I gave three back to my orange-generous friend Hannah, and kept one for the house. So far I’ve had toast every morning with butter and marmalade, savoring every bite. It’s just so damn good that I wish I’d kept one more jar. I’d mix some with a little Sherry vinegar and use it to glaze browned pork chops. Hannah, if you’re reading this, please give it a try (and invite me over)!
- Wash and dry the fruit and jars. Slice each orange in half, remove the seeds. Thinly slice half the fruit (with skin). Roughly process (in a food processor) the rest of the fruit.
- Place in a large clean pot, along with about 3/4 cups water for each cup of fruit. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Cool and chill overnight so the juice/skin flavor intensifies.
- I had 4 cups of fruit. I added 3 cups of the intense raw sugar. If you want to assure a high sweetness level then use 4 cups.
- Bring to a boil, and cook while stirring until it reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. My thermometer was broken. I cooked it about 35 minutes, Other recipes say anywhere from 15-40 minutes. What saved me was the freezer test. Put a plate in the freezer. Dollop a little marmalade on the cold plate and run a spoon through it, or tip the plate. It should wrinkle and stay in that position.
- Spoon the jam into lean jars. Cool and cover. Keep refrigerated. NOTE: Second batch made with tangelo’s, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon cayenne. None was pureed, all fruit hand cut, therefor more chunky. Otherwise the process is the same as the above, and photograph in Instagram feed.