As my palate has matured (gosh, hello, that sounds pretentious, but whatever) I've gained a greater appreciation for bitter things like Campari (which we now go through by the liter) and marmalade. Marmalade has wonderful bitter and sour notes that balance the sweetness of ordinary jam.
I knew, of course, that real marmalade is made with something called a Seville or sour or bitter orange, but I'd never seen such a thing. Lucky for me these things exist in California, if only seasonally, and finally I got my hands on some last week at the Milk Pail Market, our wonderful produce and cheese market. [They also have incredibly delicious bake-your-own croissants.]
Having had good luck with his recipes in the past, I used pastry chef David Leibowitz's recipe for Seville orange marmalade. Please go read his recipe and look at his gorgeous photos, as I didn't get many while I was chopping.
Essentially, you juice the oranges, keeping the zillions of seeds aside, and then slice up the rest of the orange, pith and all. Boil it all together with water and sugar and eventually it cooks down into something that will gel. Throw in a little Scotch and pour it in jars and ta-da, marmalade.
Of course, because I'm spectacularly clumsy in the kitchen, I managed to carefully slice up 6 1/4 of my 7 oranges before slicing a teeny tiny bit of the end of my finger off. After a brief interlude, I channelled my internal Anthony Bourdain, said lots of cuss words, and got back to finishing the marmalade. [Thankfully, the end of my finger has since grown back.]
|My very full stockpot (beginning to cook)|
I was a little concerned when my big stockpot was full past the 4-qt mark when the recipe indicated the yield was only 2 quarts of marmalade. But because marmalade relies both on the natural pectin found in the orange seeds and on cooking the mixture down to thicken it, it takes a while - for me, nearly two hours - to cook. For those of us who are used to using supermarket pectin and boiling for "just one minute!" this takes some getting used to.
I tested my marmalade with the cold-plate-in-the-freezer test as well as with my handy Thermapen, and when it was ready, I ladled it into clean jars and sealed them up. I'm a lazy canner and don't have a pressure-canning system, so the jars live in the fridge for now (although most of them vacuum-sealed on their own). It's a sparkling golden orange and so tasty!
|Marmalade on crumpet|
Besides eating it on crumpets for breakfast, I'm planning on trying to make my own version of Jaffa Cakes. Orange and chocolate and cake? Yes please!