Sunday, January 27, 2013

Seville Orange Marmalade with Meyer Lemons

~ Meyer lemons & Seville oranges ~
It's that wonderful time of year once again for experimenting with jams & jellies - this time: marmalade! Not your typical store-bought slightly flavoured, barely noticeable citrus spread either.

I spent quite a bit of time last winter searching for just the right recipe & found this one on Saveur.com, (a great site to search through for anything!) which is called Dundee-Style Marmalade.

If you've never made marmalade before, sometimes it's best to work with someone who has as it can be a bit intimidating. (The first time I made marmalade almost 20 years ago was re-labeled ice cream sauce...)

Seville oranges are not exactly your edible-type orange. You can try one if you want, but they don't seem to have very much juice or meat underneath the rind. On the other hand, the Meyer lemons are delightfully sweet & extremely juicy - these I would not hesitate to use in a shish kebab with some prawns on the BBQ!



Because the oranges are so thick skinned & tough, do not skip out on the boiling of them! I only lightly boil them for about a 1/2 hour & then take them out of the water to cool off fully after letting them sit in the water for a further 15 minutes or so.

If I'm adding another citrus, such as the lemons or even grapefruit, I will pop them in the pot of hot water after I've turned off the heat & let them sit for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how thick the rind is.

Grab your jelly bag or large square of fabric, as this is where all that lovely stuff from inside your oranges will go. This is VITAL - something I didn't realize 20 years ago. The seeds, pith & gooey stuff will aid in thickening up the marmalade by providing pectin. This is a messy procedure.

I cut everything in half & then use the juicer - sometimes scraping the rinds a bit more to make sure I get as much of the pith off as possible.

Having a sharp knife is also very important for getting just the right cut on the rinds. If you like chunks, than cut them thicker, but if you like very fine rinds in your marmalade, you have to cut them just right - they don't shrink with cooking!

Marmalade is so very different than I'm used to when it comes to jams & jellies. It is all done by weight. If I have 1 pound of oranges (pre-boiling), than I use 1 1/2 pounds of sugar & 2 cups of water. (My recipes tend to have 2.13 pounds of oranges - which is only 6 to 8 oranges - to 3.2 pounds of sugar with 4.2 cups of water). Having a kitchen scale helps tremendously. So you can see my pot with water & sugar (heavy syrup before it boils) with the bag of citrus innards & now I'm adding my chopped rind.

You will be simmering your pot for at least an hour & a half. If you have a candy thermometer, you can use it, but honestly, it doesn't matter - just as long as the mixture is bubbling & boiling (not madly!) than it is cooking & evaporating (which also helps with the thickening).

Stir it every once in a while - I do it about every 10 or 15 minutes & I give the bag a good squeeze or 2 to ensure it is also doing what it should do. If you want to add extra flavour to your marmalade, you can add things to the bag at the beginning. I LOVE ginger in my marmalade but don't necessarily want to chew on ginger chunks. So I chop it up & add it to the bag to cook. You can throw in other things like star anise or even lavender blossoms (I just did that today as I'm still in love with lavender & can't seem to get enough of it!)

You'll notice the colour & consistency of your mix start to change over the next hour; it thickens up & becomes a rich dark colour - so much nicer than that store-bought wimpy colour!

At a certain point, you'll need to learn how to tell when it's ready. This is the tough thing to determine & I unfortunately didn't take a clear photo, so am unable to show you what exactly you are looking for! Try the freezer test - when your mix is ready, you'll see the wrinkle & just know...

Now what I do at this stage is add my final super-special ingredient....

YUP! I add a good half cup of booze to the pot (hence the bubbles in the previous photo).

The alcohol burns off pretty quick with the heat, but you are left with the added flavour, so it is personal preference if you want to add some.

Have your jars & lids sterilized & warm & then jar up like regular. I find it hard to resist spooning hot marmalade into my mouth at this time - it smells so good & looks amazing & I have waited all day for it!

Marmalade can be used in so many things - bread just gets in the way most times. Try it with yogurt or ice cream or how about serving it with your appetizers & pairing it with some lovely cheese & crackers. Imagine chicken with a glaze of this or switching up your pulled pork recipe by adding marmalade to create a tart & tangy sauce...

My favourite way to eat marmalade (most days) is with just a spoon.

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