Friday, February 26, 2010

Sunshine in a Jar-Orange Marmalade

I've been on a run of recipes here lately, for not really being a food blog and I'm not done yet, but that's ok.  We have been spending a lot of time at home lately and so I find time to cook and write.   So many recipes, so little time. It's getting down to the wire for those of you looking for Seville oranges as their season is winding down, but luckily for us I've found that our Sicilian blood oranges work just dandy for this gorgeous spread.
No Seville oranges here, so naturally we've been making our orange marmalade from Sicilian blood oranges that we get from our friendly Sicilian vendor at the market, who sells his family's oranges, clementine, lemons and other specialties all winter and then returns to the family in the summer to work in the fields. Try not to make the mistake I did when I first arrived tried asking for them as blood oranges and got some pretty horrified looks.  They're called arancia rosso or tarocco, red oranges or tarot oranges.  Makes sense, except for the tarot part. One of these days I will discover why they are called tarot oranges.
I never really liked orange marmalade much until I started making my own and now I'm a convert through and through. My first attempts were more like thick honey, but I've we've finally gotten it down to where the texture is creamy, clear and very spreadable. Fabrizio has taken a keen interest in helping this season after usually sitting on the sidelines. His specialty is cutting the peels whisper thin. It does make a difference, although I do like the thick strands as well. We have started a small following of eager eaters for our orange marmalade and so, hi ho, it's off to the market for oranges we go, and go and go. Finally, we just bought a crate and have been enjoying some fresh squeezed juice to boot.
Making marmalade is a bit of a process, but when you see your gleaming jeweled jars sparkling on your shelves, you'll forget the time consuming process till the next batch or next year, whichever one comes first. I've tried a few recipes and found this one works best for me. It comes via Inge over at Vanielje Kitchen, who seems to be on a bit of a hiatus. I do hope she returns as her blog and recipes are always worth a gander.
If you have never made orange marmalade, like myself, I was a little baffled at first as to what exactly was suppose to happen, so I have added some photos to help your uderstanding, as I wished I had found when I made my first batch. 
 
Bitter Orange Marmalade or Marmellata di Arancia  Tarocco

Ingredients:
    * 900g Seville Oranges, try to get unsprayed
    * 1 large lemon
    * 2.4 litres of filtered water (81 oz)
    * 1.8kg of sugar, granulated, fine if possible(6 pounds)

Method:
    * Wash and dry the oranges and the lemon (if they are waxed you will need a scrubbing brush and some mildly soapy water)
    * Halve and squeeze the fruit, saving the juice and seeds/pips
    * Pour into a muslin cloth and sieve over a bowl. I used a bowl with cheese cloth as I haven't really found any muslin here so far.
    * Remove some pith (the white bit) from the peel and add to the muslin bag with the pips
    * Cut the peel into very thin strips
    * Loosely tie off the muslin/cheesecloth bag to allow room for movement
    * Attach with a hook or string to the handle of your preserving pan, allowing the bag to hang inside the pot, just clear of the bottom
I used a knitting needle to suspend the tied up cheesecolth and supended it in the middle of the pan.
    * Place all of the fruit parts in the preserving pan and add the water.
    * Measure the depth and bring slowly to a boil
    * Turn down and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours (the peel should be soft and the depth should be reduced by half)
    * Remove the muslin bag and carefully (it will be very hot) squeeze out excess moisture into the pan
    * Add the sugar and stir to dissolve over a low heat
    * Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes or until setting point, 105*C / 220*F  
(I found 110*F at my altitude of /1,100m/3,600ft, it is just about the perfect temp) I allowed it to gently simmer for quite a while to bring it to temperature, as I find that a rapid boil makes it easy for it to boil over and to sometimes crystalize. Just be patient and you will be rewarded.

    * Skim off any scum from the top and let stand for 5 minutes
    * Stir to distribute peel evenly, bottle (into sterilized bottles) and seal.
    * Store in a cool dark place and refrigerate once opened

 Get ready for the oohs and ahhs when you  crack out this treat for your morning whole grain seeded toast, bagel, or  afternoon scone. You'll be glad you made the effort.

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