The week before Christmas, I bought a huge bag of oranges at Costco. It was a great deal, and nothing is as festive as citrus fruit around the holidays. When I was growing up, we always got an orange in the toe of our stockings. As an adult, I still love the refreshing, sunny-tasting fruit during the Christmas season.
Between all the candy and cookies, though, the giant bag of oranges didn’t quite get eaten up this year. So, I decided to whip up some marmalade with the extras. We made some years ago, when I was a teenager, back in north Idaho. At the time, we had a large box of oranges that had gone a begging, so my mom had turned it into marmalade. It was the best stuff we had ever tasted — light and syrupy, almost like honey.
I broke out my mom’s old, torn-up Farm Journal’s Freezing & Canning Cookbook. The marmalade required a three-day process (perhaps it can be shortened, as my mom doesn’t remember it taking that long).
First, I washed and sliced the fruit. I tried to core it, but I wasn’t picky. Some people slice the middles out, but I didn’t want to take too much time that day.
I soaked the fruit in water for 24 hours. I did two big tubs, since I was doing a double batch.
The next day, I boiled each tub of fruit for 15 minutes, cooled it, and returned it to the tubs to soak for another 24 hours.
Some people proceed to the gelling process with the fruit in slices, but I decided I wanted my pieces a bit smaller. I gave them a whir in the food processor, just to roughly chop them. I still had a couple rings and some little pieces, too. Next time, I think I will quarter my slices in the first place.
I mixed 3 cups of the orange water with 3 cups of sugar and cooked it in baches, boiling until it reached 220 degrees (the gelling point).
When each batch was done, I packed it in clean jars. Working in batches like this took all day. But the results were lovely — a rich color that started thickening almost immediately. When I was done with all the batches, I processed the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Each recipe made about 6 pints.
That was it! It turned out delicious — just like my mom’s used to be. The natural pectin won’t fully set up for a day or two, but most of the batches look plenty thick already.
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