A couple of weeks ago, my granddaughter and I made a batch of grape jelly and a batch of strawberry jam. The jam turned out wonderful and I plan on making more soon. The grape jelly, not such a great success: it’s delicious but did not set up as firm as I had expected. Over time it’s likely to get a little more firm, but as it’s not my favorite jelly, that’s not really an issue for me.
What I really like, however, is orange marmalade. The best that I’ve had is made from Seville oranges, tangy and bitter sweet. But I haven’t seen any Seville oranges in our local markets. Mandarin oranges, however, were on sale this week at our local Giant. So I picked up a couple of bags (6 pounds worth) and shopped the internet for a good marmalade recipe.
There are a lot of recipes available online, I’m surprised anyone buys cookbooks these days, and it was easy to find a recipe that suited my low-fuss cooking style. There aren’t a lot of ingredients involved as one can imagine (fruit, water, added sugar and possibly pectin); however I threw in a cinnamon stick to give it a little extra kick, and three lemons (juice and peels) to help recover some of the acidity that the mandarin oranges were missing.
Homemade marmalade is a much slower process than I had expected. Just squeezing the juice from two bags of oranges, then scraping and slicing the peels to add to the mixture, took more than an hour. The recipe I used suggested starting the day before with this step and I’m glad I did. The kitchen was soon filled with the pleasant aroma of fresh-squeezed oranges and reminded us of our first taste of Florida orange juice on our honeymoon years ago. Really, it was that memorable.
The recipe indicated that 4 1/2 pounds of oranges, with the added quart of water and sugar, would yield 5 1/2 cups of jam after cooking down to about half the volume. I used 6 pounds of oranges, three lemons, and less sugar than called for but more pectin, and ended up with 5 1/2 cups. It could be that I have more juice to water ratio than the recipe, but the taste test was delicious!
If you are interested in taking a look at the original recipe, you can find it on the A Family Feast website. Do you have a favorite family recipe for jams and jellies? Share in the comments section below. See you in the kitchen!