'Tis the season for quality citrus. Let the distinctive aroma and taste of oranges, lemons, and grapefruits in the form of homemade marmalade whisk you away from the cold, dark days of winter in New England to memories of warmer seasons and places. The following recipe, which utilizes the whole fruit (pith, membrane, and seeds are added for the natural pectin they yield when boiled), makes for a sweet and slightly bitter preserve to spread on bread and other baked goods, stir into plain yogurt, or brush on pork, poultry, or fish as a glaze.
Makes about 7 half-pints
4.5 lbs of citrus fruit*, whole (I used only navel oranges)
6 cups sugar
4 cups zest poaching liquid
*Should yield roughly 2.5 cups zest and 4+ cups flesh
Wash/scrub all fruit. Using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, remove zest from fruit, leaving as much pith on the fruit as possible. Cut the zest into thin slices, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick; longer zest "ribbons" may need to be cut in half as well. In a medium-sized pot, add zest ribbons to 6 cups of cold water; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, separate the fruit from the pith, seeds, and membrane (watch this 48-second tutorial to see how the pros do it) into two bowls. Bundle the pith, seeds, and membranes in cheesecloth, tying off tightly to ensure no pieces escape.
Drain the zest, reserving 4 cups of poaching liquid in a large, non-reactive pot (stainless steel or enameled cast iron work well). Add poached zest, raw fruit, sugar, and the cheesecloth bundle to the pot and bring to a boil; cook vigorously until the marmalade reaches and sustains 220 degrees F for at least a minute (takes about 30-45 minutes). Remove the pot from heat and gently stir for a minute to help evenly distribute the zest throughout the marmalade.
Fill sterilized jars and process for five minutes in a boiling water bath canner for shelf-stability.
Image by Rebekah Carter (2012). Marmalade recipe adapted from Food in Jars.