Marmalade, the second time round.

It is the height of orange season here in Antalya, that time of year when they are really cheap and at the same time unfailingly tasty. And alongside all of the big fat eating oranges and the more diminutive juice oranges, the bitter jam oranges have emerged. These trees are the unfussy rootstock for all of the grafted citrus trees around here, but thankfully some of them are grown for their fruits. They really don’t taste very nice, but they do make awfully good jam. Although we have bitter orange trees in our garden, they are not fruiting yet, so when I saw some in the market one Thursday, then, I immediately bought a kilo.
I say one Thursday because although this is about making a batch of marmalade, it is not the first one I’ve made this season. My first attempt came to a very bad end due to overcooking. Not only did the bottom burn, but it also solidified into a single un-budge-able mass in the pot (subsequent soaking and boiling coaxed the unappetizing mass out). Still, I learned a thing or two. I mean, isn’t that what mistakes are for?
Last Thursday, I got another kilo of oranges, determined to try again.
I cut and juiced them

hollowed them out

and sliced. I don’t like the peel super thick, so I kept the slices pretty thin. Then I soaked them in 2.5 l water along with the orange juice for about a day:

The next day, I put the peels, water and juice into the biggest pot I have and cooked the peels for about two hours, until they were nice and soft. DON’T do what I did the first time and let them boil too hard, or you will lose too much of the liquid — you want to lose about a third, that’s it.
When I say the pot is big, this is what I mean:

I learned the hard way that sugary things can get pretty volcanic when the going gets hot. To get jam up to the setting point, you’ve got to let it boil hard, and the last thing you want is boilovers. Oh, how many of those have I pried off the stove top…
After the peel had cooked, I added 2 kilos of sugar (I know). The sugar needs to melt properly, then the hard boiling begins.
It takes about 30 minutes of vigorous bubbling until the jam reaches the setting point. Using the time honored saucer chilled in the freezer methos, I tested a drop of jam to see if it wrinkled when pushed. It took a lot of tests, but we got there.
The result, this time at least:

Another thing that I did not do this time around was use the seeds of the oranges. Often, marmalade recipes include putting the orange seeds into a square of cheesecloth and cooking them along with the orange peels. Pam Corbin, in the River Cottage Preserves Handbook, claimed that the pith of the orange has plenty of pectin in it to set the jam. And wouldn’t you know it, she’s right!
Her recipe is available here as well as in the book, which I wholeheartedly recommend to jam lovers.

7 thoughts on “Marmalade, the second time round.

  1. I, too, have heard bout using the seeds or pits to supply pectin to jam. I’ve only made a few batches of jelly & jam and am not confident enough to vary from what I know works. Your marmalade sounds delicious. Maybe i should try to make marmalade this year. 🙂

    1. My last, ill-fated batch had pips in it, and it did get nice and thick; they can’t hurt the jam, for sure. If you can make cheese (talk about magic), jam is a snap — all it takes is lava like temperatures. Just don’t make the mistake of touching it before it’s had a chance to cool… I’ve got a blister on my finger to remind me!


  2. I love marmalade and homemade is just the best. There’s no better way to start the day than with some marmalade on toast. Your jam looks so pretty – love the sparkly colour!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s