I usually make several kinds of jam each summer, but had never made any winter citrus marmalade. This weekend I decided to do something about that, and went in search of Seville oranges. One local shop had some; February is a good time to find them. So, I bought 7 oranges (which turned out to be a lot, most recipes called for 4 or 5).
Seville oranges are a kind of bitter orange, that are apparently planted all over the city of Seville in Spain - being there when they bloom must be amazing.
I did some reading online and found many variations and opinions on how to do Seville Orange Marmalade, so I ended up combining pieces from several. I knew I wanted to can it in order to extend its shelf life, and so I can give it as gifts.
The first thing is to figure out, how to get all those seeds out - Seville oranges are packed full of seeds. I liked the suggestion from The Wednesday Chef blog to score the orange so that you can peel it in four quarters easily, then juice the orange and collect the seeds. I put the seeds into a small linen spice bag. And then you slice the peel into 1/8" thick slices.
Peels removed, juicing the pulp
You combine juice, sliced rind, chopped pulp, and the bag of seeds in a pot, cover with water, and let sit overnight. (Supposedly this helps with bitterness, I don't know.) The next day, you bring to a boil (still with the bag of seeds in there, to help add natural pectin) and then simmer about 45 minute to an hour, which is supposed to help make the orange rinds more tender - apparently once you add the sugar, the rinds stop getting tender from cooking.
Seeds successfully separated!
Cooking the oranges before adding sugar
While the oranges are simmering, bring your large canning pot full of water to a boil, and put your canning jars in to sterilize, and the lids in a separate pot to simmer. And, put a small plate in the freezer.
Remove the bag of seeds from the pot of oranges. Add the sugar to the oranges, stir gently until dissolved, and then let cook with the heat on high. A note about the quantity of sugar - the most traditional recipes seem to use twice the weight of sugar to oranges. I couldn't quite bring myself to do that, so used a little less, and mine was plenty sweet.
Boiling hard until its 222-223 F, skimming off foam
Some recipes said stir continuously, others said stir occasionally - I opted for occasionally, and I skimmed off foam occasionally too, with a large spoon. I used a digital thermometer to check the temperature, which could get tricky because every once in a while a lava-hot bubble of orange-sugar-water would erupt out of the cooking marmalade so you need to be careful.
Mine took a full hour to go from boiling (212F) to the 222-223F range. I tested a teaspoon of the marmalade on the plate from the freezer and lo it was softly gelled after 30 seconds - it would move slowly and blob-like when I tilted the plate, but did not run quickly down the plate, so it was done.
I turned off the heat, pulled the jars, ladle, and funnel out of the hot water, and then carefully filled the jars leaving 1/4" headspace. I wiped the tops of each jar with a damp cloth, and the put on the lids and bands from the simmering water. (I kept one jar out to eat right away of course!)
Filling the jars
Jars cooling on the counter
I filled up my canning rack with the jars, carefully lowered it in to the boiling water canner, covered, brought back to a boil, and let boil for 10 minutes. Then I pulled the rack out and lifted the jars on to a towel on the counter, there to cool for 12 hours or so.
And then, I cut a thick slice of a good crusty bread, toasted it a bit, slathered with lightly salted organic butter, and spread with marmalade, and made a cup of black tea with milk to accompany it. SO delicious, with great flavors and textures - chewy, bitter and sweet, plus the salty richness from the butter and the nuttiness of the wheat bread.
Worth the wait!
And, the house did smell wonderful for hours! Recipe follows.
Originally inspired by http://www.thewednesdaychef.com/ and by Alton Brown's recipe on the food network http://www.foodnetwork.com/
Seville Orange Marmalade
Makes 12 half-pints (approximately)
3 pounds 12 ounces Seville oranges (7 large)
12 cups water
5 pounds 12 ounces granulated sugar
Wash the oranges thoroughly, especially if you were not able to find organic fruit. Score the peel of each orange with a sharp knife in quarters and remove, and slice 1/8" thick, and put in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Juice the oranges; I used a hand held juicer, which worked well in that it collected a lot of the seeds too. Then take the pulp and squish it around on a cutting board to remove more seeds, and then chop the pulp up. Add the juice and pulp to the pot. Put the seeds in a spice bag, tied shut, and add to the pot too. Add 12 cups water, cover and let sit overnight.
The next day, bring the pot to a boil, uncovered, still with the seed bag in, and let simmer rapidly for 45 minutes to an hour. The goal is for your peel to soften; apparently once you add sugar the peel will not soften any more.
While the fruit is cooking, fill a large pot (at least 12-quart - I use my lobster pot) 3/4 full with water, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Place 10 (8-ounce) jars and rings, canning funnel, ladle, and tongs into the boiling water and make sure the water covers the jars by at least an inch. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the lids and leave everything in the pot until the marmalade is ready.
Also, place a small plate in the freezer.
Remove the bag of seeds from the pot. Increase the heat under the orange mixture to return to full boil. Add the sugar and stil gently to dissolve. Then stir the mixture occasionally, and occasionally skimming off foam with a large spoon, until it reaches 222 to 223 degrees F on a candy thermometer, and darkens in color. For me this took an hour; apparently that was on the long side.
Along with testing the temperature, when its near 222 degrees test the readiness of the marmalade by placing a teaspoon of the mixture onto the chilled plate and allowing it to sit for 30 seconds. Tilt the plate. The mixture should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If mixture is thin and runs easily, it is not ready.
Remove jars from the water and drain on a clean towel. Place a canning funnel onto the top of one of the jars and ladle in the marmalade just to below the bottom of the threads of the jar. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used. The amount of marmalade may vary by 1 to 2 jars. Wipe the rims and threads of the jars with a moist clean cloth and top each with a lid. Place a ring on each jar and tighten and put in your canning rack.
Gently lower the canning rack in to the pot of boiling water. Add additional boiling water if necessary to cover the jars by at least an inch. Bring back to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the canning rack from the water, and then using the jar lifter to place the jars on a cloth on the counter, spaced a few inches apart, and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours before opening. Once open, store in the refrigerator.
Enjoy on hearty toast with lightly salted butter.