Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Preserving Floyd: It's Marmalade Season!

My blog friend, Gloria Nicol of Laundry Etc, is entering her marmalade in the mother of all marmalade competitions, The World's Original Marmalade Awards, at the Dalmain Mansion in Cumbria, UK.  This competition attracts entries from around the world, all vying for the opportunity to have their own marmalade recipe made and sold by Fortnum & Mason in London.  Gloria is a very creative preserver and an ongoing inspiration and I wish her great luck in this intimidating competition.

I've never made marmalade before so following Gloria's lead, I opened her book Fruits of the Earth for marmalade-making guidance.  For Floyd locals, Fruits of the Earth is available at the Country Store.  It's a gorgeous little book and every recipe I've made so far has been superb.

Blood Oranges (also known as Cara or Moro oranges, a member of the navel family) are in season and I chose to use them for my marmalade attempt.  Seville oranges are the traditional choice for marmalade but we never see them in the stores around here.  Why is that?  I actually started out with a different recipe but I had completed the initial steps (boiling the 8 oranges for an hour, allowing them to cool in the water, reserving the water and removing the pulp, slicing the peel into thin strips) when I realized there was something wrong or a step missing.  Gloria to the rescue!  I used the Seville Orange Marmalade recipe on page 65 for guidance.  Gloria's recipe starts out differently than the one I began with but her steps to finish it led me to two beautiful marmalades.

Gloria Nicol's Seville Orange Marmalade
2 pounds Seville Oranges (I used Blood Oranges)
1 small lemon
6 cups sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Place the whole fruits in a heavy, lidded casserole that will fit in the oven.  Pour in 5 cups of water and bring it to a simmer on the cooktop.

2. Cover the pot and place in the oven.  Poach the fruit for 2 1/2-3 hours, by which time the skins will be soft.

3. Using a spoon, lift the fruit out of the liquid into a colander.  When cool enough to handle, cut each fruit in half and scoop out the pulp with a spoon, leaving just the peel, placing pulp, pith and seeds in a muslin bag suspended over a bowl to catch any drips.  Measure the liquid, adding any collected in the bowl under the drained pulp, and if necessary add water to make it up to 1 quart.

4. Place the muslin bag in a sauce pan with enough poaching liquid to cover.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Leave until cool enough to handle, then squeeze the bag to get as much liquid as possible from the pulp.  Discard the contents.

Well, following the first inaccurate recipe, this is what I already had (plus the reserved liquid) when I said oops! this can't be right:
So I gathered up the pulp in a bag and hung it to drip, squeezing what I could from the bag.  Remember I started out with 8 oranges so I actually wound up with enough reserved liquid, juice, and peel for two batches.
I didn't have any fresh lemons on hand so I added 1/2 cup of bottled lemon juice to the liquid.  Blood Oranges, being a member of the navel orange family, have no seeds which are included when preparing the oranges because they add to the pectin content.  So I was working with 2 strikes against me; inaccurate fruit preparation and less pectin content from lack of seeds.  Sheesh.  I divided the rind and liquid into measurements for 2 batches.

From this point I started following Gloria's recipe hoping for the best but expecting to make marmalade syrup.

5.  Chop the rind into thin strips and put in the preserving pan.  Add all the poaching liquid.  If the mixture is cold (mine was), you can add the sugar without warming it; otherwise you will need to warm the sugar first (put it in an oven proof bowl in the oven on the lowest setting for about 20 minutes).  Stir the sugar into the orange liquid over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the liquid is clear, then boil rapidly for 15 minutes and test for setting point (220F).
That's my new official copper preserving pan that Santa brought.  Isn't it pretty?  That's also my candy thermometer that I found to be inaccurate during the course of this project and switched to the digital.
6. Turn off the heat and leave the marmalade to stand for 15 minutes, then stir to distribute peel.  Skim if necessary (At this point I added 1/4 cup of a good single malt Scotch.).  Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal (I processed this in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes). 

As is usual whenever I make peach jam or pepper jelly, the peel in the jars floated after being pulled from the bath.  I allowed the jars to cool for awhile then, while still warm, swirled them in every direction except upside down to redistribute the peel.

To the second batch of juice and peel I added dried cranberries.  I can't give you a measurement, I just stirred them in until I had a nice visual mix of red berries and orange peel.  I followed Gloria's method from there on out.  I was less worried about ending up with a syrupy product because cranberries contain a good amount of natural pectin.  After the 15 minute cooling period I added 1/4 cup of cranberry liqueur.  I just can't leave well enough alone!
When these jars were pulled from the bath the floating problem was not an issue.  Everything was nicely distributed.  It's a mystery.

Despite the inaccuracies and blunders on my part both batches of marmalade set beautifully.  Michael, my quality inspector, declared both batches to be quite tasty, reverted to being a 12 year old and cleaned out the leftovers in the pot with a finger.  Marmalades are one of those preserves that benefit from a little aging on the shelf to allow the flavors to blend and mellow so in a few weeks we'll break open a jar for further tasting.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love Gloria's book. We've near made every recipe and they are all super. She really has a gift.