A few jam fans have requested the recipe for my Blood Orange Marmalade. Although I would say, wait till my cookbook comes out, that won't be until August. So here it is! Blood Orange Marmalade is the perfect antidote to the doldrums of winter, or if you live in warmer climates, then an antidote to a dreary rainy week. These fruits are awesome! I like the Moro variety, which are the most colorful of the blood oranges, with a deep red flesh and a rind that has a bright red blush. The flavor is stronger and the aroma is intense, bitter and has a hint of tart raspberry. The Moro variety is believed to have originated at the beginning of the 19th century in Sicily.
Blood oranges are nutricious, with their red pigment (officially, anthocyanin) an antioxidant that may diminish the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer, cholesterol accumulation, and cataracts, plus they’re chock full of vitamin C and that great citrus taste that I crave in cold or dreary weather. With the addition of a little brandy, this marmalade is delicious and cozy. Makes about four 8-ounce jars
INGREDIENTS 4 pounds blood oranges (about 12 blood oranges), cleaned, halved and juiced to produce 4 cups of juice 1½ pounds green apples, such as Granny Smith 4 cups sugar (about 2 pounds) 3 cups water 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 ounces brandy
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT 1 square cheesecloth 1 chinois sieve or jelly bag
PREP For the apples:
Rinse the apples in cold water. Stem and cut the apples into quarters without peeling or coring them.
Place the apples in a 6-to-8 quart nonreactive pot and cover with 3 cups plus 4 ounces water. Bring to a boil and allow them to simmer for 30 minutes on low heat until the apples are soft.
Collect the juice made by the apples by pouring this preparation into a fine chinois sieve or jelly bag, pressing lightly on the fruit to release the juice. Let the juice drain out completely so you have the proper 2 ½ cups, preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
For the blood oranges:
The next day, slice the blood oranges in half and juice them, producing 4 cups of juice, and reserving any seeds and the skin of two oranges. Using a spoon, scrape the membrane, white pith and any excess fibers out of the oranges; place the membrane and seeds in a piece of cheesecloth and tie shut. Using a sharp paring knife, slice the peel into thin ¼-inch strips. Blanch the peel in 2 cups of water, bringing water to a boil, and then discarding the water. Add new water, bring to a boil again; repeat three times.
Place the apple juice, orange juice, lemon juice, blood orange peel, 4 cups sugar and the seeds in cheesecloth into a 6- to 8-quart dutch oven, stainless steel or copper pot.
For the jars and lids:
Wash and rinse jars; put them into a big stockpot; cover jars with water and bring to a boil; boil covered for 10 minutes to sanitize. Let stand in hot water until ready to fill.
Bring lids and rings to boil; turn off heat; let stand in hot water until ready to screw onto the jars.
Bring fruit to a boil and boil rapidly, stirring gently. Skim any foam that rises. Cook on high heat for 10 minutes, and stir constantly. Skim again if need be. Remove the cheesecloth with the seeds and stir; return to a boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
The syrup will reach the gel stage at 221 ° F (105 ° C) on a candy thermometer, about 10 more minutes. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the consistency by placing a teaspoon of the hot marmalade onto one of the frozen spoons you prepped. Let it rest for a few minutes, then test the gel by tilting the spoon vertically; what is the consistency? If the marmalade run loosely like syrup then it’s not done yet, but if it glides slowly along in a gloopy glob, then the preserves are ready. If syrupy, bring it to a boil again for 1 to 5 minutes.
Let marmalade sit for 2 minutes before filling jars, so it can just start to congeal. Fill jars to 1/4″ of top -- using a wide-mouth funnel and a ladle to fill the jars helps avoid a big mess.
Wipe rims clean with a damp paper towel. Screw on lids (2-peice lids are easiest to use).
Put filled jars in water; make sure they’re thoroughly covered with 1 inch of water over the top of the lids. Boil for 6 minutes (add 1 minute more for every 1,000 ft. above sea level).
Lift the jars out of the water with your jar lifter or tongs and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place. You can then remove the rings if you like. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they’ve sealed pressing gently in the center of the lid with your finger. If it pops up and down, it’s not sealed. If it’s firm and doesn’t move, then it’s sealed. If any of your jars have a faulty seal, don’t panic, just put the jar in the refrigerator right away and you can still use it – breakfast tomorrow!
Once cooled, store them in a dark place like a cupboard or closet. They last up to 12 months. After about 8 months, they may darken in color and start to separate or become less gelled. Marmalade will last two to four months once open and refrigerated. Pairs well with strong and creamy blue cheese such as a Fourme d'Ambert or a creamy and sweet Cantalet; great on buttered whole-wheat toast; delicious with chocolate or ginger cookies.