Monday, April 19, 2010


I decided last week that I needed to do something adventurous with a handful of oranges I had in the fridge that were about to go bad. At Heather's suggestion, I decided on Orange Marmalade. I've never made jam before, so I scoured the internet for a good recipe that wouldn't be too hard or call for any crazy ingredients. My first thought was Alton Brown (oh how I love Good Eats) because I think I saw an orange show he did. Somehow on the Food Network website I stumbled upon the Barefoot Contessa's recipe and decided it was the one.

Anna's Orange Marmalade
from the Barefoot Contessa

4 large seedless oranges
2 lemons
8 cups sugar

Cut the oranges and lemons in half crosswise, then into very thin half-moon slices. Discard any seeds. Place the sliced fruit and their juices into a stainless-steel pot. Add 8 cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Cover and allow to stand overnight at room temperature.

The next day, bring the mixture back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours. Turn the heat up to medium and boil gently, stirring often, for another 30 minutes. Skim off any foam that forms on teh top. Cook the marmalde until it reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer. If you want to be doubly sure it's ready, place a small amount on a plate and refrigerate it until it's cool but not cold.  If it's firm - neither runny nor too hard - it's done. It will be a golden orange color. (If the marmalade is runny, continue cooking it and if it's too hard, add more water.)

Pour the marmalade into clean, hot Mason jars; wipe the rims thoroughly with a clean damp paper towel and seal with lids. Store in the pantry for up to a year.

Holy crap, what a production this was. I think every time Leda came home last week it was to me, standing in the kitchen, yelling at some oranges in a pot.

I modified this recipe a little bit after I read all of the comments on the website. I used three oranges - one whole, one peeled, and one zested (sliced into matchsticks) and peeled. Then I added two mandarins because it didn't seem like enough chunks in the water. I added two cinnamon sticks to the boiling water, and only added 5 cups of sugar.

The second day of cooking took forever. I was using a pot that was the appropriate size, but doesn't exactly have the flattest bottom, so getting to the boiling point took a lot longer than usual. I let the sauce simmer for about 2.5 hours before bringing it back to a boil. At this point I got a little worried because I don't have a candy thermometer. I boiled it for a good 40 minutes or so without noticing it hardening too much. After another 10-15 I got scared and decided it would be better to have syrup than brick and canned it. The whole time I was melting the wax for the top of the jars I was thinking, "This is a bad idea, this is a bad idea."

After sitting in the fridge overnight, all of the jars were still liquid. So I slaved over a hot stove for the third day in a row. Finally, FINALLY, it started to harden. I set aside a cup and a half to use in another recipe, and canned only three jars (probably 2.5 cups).

It's delicious. But is delicious really worth three full evenings in front of the stove when its sunny out?

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