It is bone chilling cold and gloomy almost every day now. Winter in the North East seems even more endless than usual this year. I try not to think about all the warm weather things that I miss terribly like fresh fruit and vegetables from the farm stand, vibrant colors and sweet scents. Although winter brings one colorful thing that summer does not – blood oranges. Available only in the winter, imported from a far and source of the best marmalade I make.
I fell for orange marmalade while visiting UK a while back. The spread of clotted cream and bitter orange marmalade on what we Americans call “English muffin” is simple and fragrant start to the day. When we returned home, I immediately tried to re-create that bitter orange flavor and a beautiful clarity of the marmalade with the candid rind. Unfortunately the oranges in the US are very different, they lack the flavor and bitterness, they are much sweeter and the jam does not come out anything like the one I had in London.
I didn’t give up; I continued experimenting, blending oranges and lemons, finally coming up on the blood oranges. I tried them out because I liked the color and ended up loving the flavor as well.
This marmalade tastes great on a piece of a crusty toast or an English muffin, with or without butter or clotted cream, but I swear, I mostly make it because it so pretty…
Blood Orange Marmalade
10 medium size blood oranges
6 cups of water
4 cups sugar
Peel and cut up the oranges and place them in a fairly large pot with all the water. Save the orange peel.
Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 min until the oranges are very soft. Strain through a mesh and leave it straining for a few hours or overnight. You can put a heavy plate on top of the oranges in a strainer to help it along, but don’t squeeze the mass too much, it will make the marmalade muddy.
Cut Lemon and saved orange peel into very thin strips, make sure that all the white under-peel has been removed first.
Combine strained liquid, sugar, juice from 2 lemons, thin strips of peel from 2 oranges and 2 lemons and bring to a boil. Gently simmer, periodically stirring with a wooden spoon. If any foam appears on top, remove it with a wooden spoon.
Simmer the marmalade until it is reduced and the temperature reaches about 220F. It is generally the point when you can begin testing if the mixture has “jelled”. To test, place a small plate in the freezer for a few minutes. Once frozen, dab some marmalade on it and place in a freezer again for a minute. Test by tipping the plate, if the mixture begins to wrinkle when tipped, the marmalade is jelled.
I store my made marmalade in the fridge because it does not last very long in my house, so I do not conserve the jars. I just pour and store.