Friday, January 23, 2009

For the love of marmalade...

My husband loves orange marmalade. LOVES it.  Peanut butter and marmalade sandwiches on my homemade sourdough bread are his weakness.  Before marrying him, I had only heard of orange marmalade, in the Paddington Bear stories. It wasn't something that people really ate, it was a storybook-sugarplum-sweet.  His taste for marmalade was positively exotic to me!

I recently bought 2 huge bags of satsuma oranges.  It became obvious that they would go bad before the kids and I got around to eating them all, so my January issue of Martha Stewart Living with it's cover depicting Martha ladling hot marmalade into jars was exceptionally timely.  

Making marmalade was my first foray into jam and jelly making. My grandmother always made jelly and jam, since my grandfather finds jelly a crucial condiment for all three meals of the day, but when I phoned her during my marmalade-making she told me she had actually never made it.  I was in a brave new world, and without a recipe, since Martha's all called for weirdo ingredients I didn't have.

Here's what I did:

I peeled all the satsumas and meyer lemons (thanks Kristel!) I had in the fruit bowl.  I would estimate that was about 5 lemons and 8 satsumas.  I seeded and chopped the fruit and sliced the peels into thin, small slices. I added about 2 quarts of water and a tablespoon of vanilla, and brought it to a hard boil on the stove.  I let it boil for about 5 minutes, then removed it from the fire and let it cool.  I moved the pan to the fridge overnight.  (This I learned from Martha. I think it allows the pectin in the peels to release so that the marmalade will "jell")  The next day, I brought it to a boil again, and boiled it for about 15 minutes, until the peels were very tender.  Then, I measured the mixture and added 3/4 cup of sugar for each cup of orange mixture.  (This was Martha's proportion).  I stirred well, then brought the whole sticky mess up to 220 degrees on a candy thermometer.  The marmalade smelled heavenly and browned to a golden caramel color. Lovely. 

The next, and most fulfilling step was re-creating Martha's magazine cover, where I ladled my yumminess into glass jars.  Well, I also got a big kick out of using my pinking shears to cut the adorable little gingham circles in citrusy-colors to top the jars, but that step is purely optional.

Even though I was not, and am still not a connoisseur of orange marmalade, I appreciate the tangy zest of this good stuff on hot bread, and I thrill in making something special for the ones I love.  

(Scot was so moved by the marmalade he even did a whole little photo shoot for my blog. Thanks, honey!)

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