Tuesday, June 16, 2009

When life gives you ugly oranges make marmalade!

I'm always on the look out for a way to save money and make the most out of everything. I have been keeping my eye out for people that have more produce than they can handle. I found someone on craiglist that said they had an orange tree with sour oranges and we could have all that we could pick. I didn't think about it being June and many months past orange harvesting time! I drove out to the island with Farm Boy and we picked oranges. Lots and lots of oranges.
They looked pretty bad but they smelled good. I had such plans for all these free oranges. I would dehydrate, can, candy, juice and craft with them. What I ended up doing is making marmalade. The skins were too ugly to mess with dehydrating. The inside was dry, pithy and the seeds had started to sprout from the inside of the orange.

Most of the oranges were not usable. I juiced what I could and then used some organic oranges I purchased for the zest and peel in my marmalade. I put the juice and the thinly sliced organic oranges (seeds removed) in a stock pot with about 1 quart of water and set it to simmer.

The seeds went into a small saucepan with a cup of water and boiled them for 5 minutes to extract the pectin from the seeds. The seeds were strained and the liquid was added to the big pot to simmer. I let it simmer for a good while. An hour or more. Until the peels were very soft. Once the peels were soft I lined a colander with muslin and strained all the liquid from the oranges. I picked out the pretties peels and was able to easily slice off just the zest. It was much easier than the way I have done it in the past. I set the zest aside. I measured the liquid and then added 1 cup of sugar for each cup of juice I had plus a cup of water and brought it all to a boil. I boiled it and stirred constantly until the mixture jelled when dropped on a cold plate. I would say it took about 15 minutes.

I added the zest to the boiling mixture and turned off the heat. I then poured it into prepared jars and then processed it in a BWB for 15 minutes.

In the past I treated my citrus peels by trying to scrape as much of the white off as possible then boiling in a small amount of water with a pinch of baking soda and changing the water at least once. I think this is to get rid of the bitter flavor that some citrus peels have. Lime is especially bitter. I found that I didn't have to do that with this recipe. If I were using lime I would definitely do that.

I ended up with 7 cups of juice and it made 10 half pints of marmalade. It is very good if I do say so myself! We have already gone through two jars. It is wonderful on fresh biscuits or bread right out of the oven. I am sure it would make a wonderful glaze for pork, chicken or salmon.

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