On my drive to Boston to help my daughter move, I was listening to the radio in Connecticut and heard Food Schmooze for the first time. It was an entertaining food show, but most interesting was the cookbook they were discussing – Preserving Italy by Domenica Marchetti. I was quite intrigued, so I ordered the book and have been working my way through it. I have previously written about the butternut squash preserved in oil. I also made some of the fruit preserves that I really enjoyed. But today I would try two very different preserves – pickle cipolinis (onions) and bitter citrus marmalade.
I decided to do them both to make the most out of getting out the canning pot and equipment. While the pickled cipolinis are sitting for a week before we can use them, the marmalade was ready this morning and made for some excellent bagel accompaniment!
You can use a variety of citrus fruits as long as you have 2 1/2 lbs – I used 2 blood oranges, 3 meyer lemons and 2 mandarins. The blood oranges give a beautiful color to the marmalade, if anything, I might even use more of them next time. You can also use kumquats or other bitter citrus fruits.
Bitter Citrus Marmalade
from Preserving Italy by Domenica Marchetti
2 1/2 lbs citrus fruit (organic, untreated), such as blood oranges, madarin oranges, lemons, etc.
Spring or filtered water
1 vanilla bean
For small citrus, cut crosswise into thin wheels. For the rest, cut into quarters, then slice into thin wedges. Remove and collect the seeds as you work (the pectin in the seeds will help set the marmalade). Put the seeds in a piece of cheesecloth and tie it into a bundle with kitchen twine.
Place the fruit in a large nonreactive, heavy-bottomed saucepan and cover with 3 – 3 1/2 cups of water – enough to just cover the fruit. Add the seed bundle to the pot.
Bring the fruit to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Cover the pot and refrigerate overnight.
Bring the fruit to a boil again over medium-hight heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the peel of the fruit is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the bundle of seeds.
Sterilize 6 half-pint jars, rings and lids. You can do this by washing them and then putting them in the oven at 285F for 30 minutes (don’t put the lids in the oven, just put them in the boiling canning water bath for a few minutes just before canning). Start heating the canning water bath to boiling.
Weight the fruit mixture; it should be about 2 1/2 lbs. Add an equal amount of sugar to the pot. Slice open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pot. Over medium-low heat, stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil Cook at a lively boil, stirring often, until the mixture has darkened and begun to thicken. This will take about 30 minutes. Watch out for spattering. Continue to boil until the mixture reaches 220F and you can drag a path along the bottom of the pot with a silicone spatula.
Ladle the hot marmalade into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. If necessary, wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth. Screw the lids onto the jars (not too tight).
Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes (check websites such as this for information on water-bath canning). Remove the jars and place them upright on a clean kitchen towel. Let cool to room temperature before storing in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening. If any jars failed to seal properly, refrigerate them and use them first. Enjoy!