In the sliver of sunshine sandwiched between our first good snow last weekend, and our first big blizzard earlier this week, Little Smith and I ventured out for a mama-son date. We rode the train, strolled through the Public Gardens, and ran in circles across the snow covered duck pond. When our noses and fingertips were stinging from the cold, we ducked into the movie theater that borders the Boston Common, and caught the afternoon showing of Paddington. We were both delighted to escape the snow, and indulge in the fantasy of talking bears, ripe oranges, and of course, marmalade day.
With citrus in season (obviously not local, but making the reasonable trip up from Florida) and several feet of snow in the forecast, I plotted for our very own marmalade day. Watching snow pile up and melt against windows that are foggy from the steam of a big canning kettle was nearly as magical as Paddington's digs in Darkest Peru. I think this will have to be an annual family tradition... although according to James, I'm just not satisfied with the mess of a storm outside, I have to make a mess inside too. He might be right, it was certainly a couple days of beautiful messes, inside and out.
Blizzard Marmalade: adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving
-makes about 7 half pints
- 4 cups orange pulp (about 10 medium oranges, supremed)
- +/- 2 cups orange peel cut into thin slices
- 1 lemon, pulp and thinly sliced peel (as with oranges)
- 1 additional lemon, thinly sliced
- 6 cups water
- sugar (1/2 cup per cup of fruit mixture)
Prepare the citrus: (I let Little Smith help with peeling the oranges, which probably made for more work overall, but also more fun). Score the peels in quarters and pull them off (a good job for a four year old helper).Slice some of the thick white pith away from the peels. Supreme the oranges, removing any seeds, working over a bowl to collect all of the juices along with the pulp. Collect the scraps (pith, membranes, seeds) in cheesecloth. Repeat this process with one lemon. Slice the second lemon, and add to the cheesecloth scraps.
Combine the sliced peels, pulp, and tied cheesecloth in a large sauce pot. Add the water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Cover, and store in a cool place overnight, about 12 to 18 hours.
Bring the mixture to a boil and cook rapidly until the peel is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the cheesecloth, squeezing out the juices, and discard. Measure the citrus mixture. Add 1/2 cup of sugar for every 1 cup of fruit liquid. (This is half the sugar recommended by Ball, and as a result it needs to cook a long time to set up, and never really gels as beautifully as the sweeter version would. It is plenty sweet and firm for my tastes though!).
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to gel. Due to the reduced sugar content, this will likely take about an hour.
Ladle the mixture into tempered jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Process the jars for ten minutes submerged in boiling water, or refrigerate.
This marmalade is a wonderful balance of sweet and tart, and adds a beautiful pop of color to a gray winter's morning. I'm looking forward to using it as a filling for cake, as all roads lead to cake for me. The kids wanted to eat the whole jar straight up with a spoon (much like Paddington actually). If there is snow in your forecast, consider a messy, fun filled marmalade day!