It’s been a while since I’ve posted any recipes. This is primarily because I really haven’t been cooking anything of note for the past few months. But one thing I have been meaning to try making is marmalade.
My first attempt at marmalade was at holiday time in 2012. And it was a disaster. I tried a two-day recipe where you cut up your oranges and combined them with the sugar and let it all soak overnight in a pan. Twenty-four hours later you were supposed to cook it. This is where I totally *(&^*&^*’ed up. I may have *(&^*&^*’ed it up because I had work to do the next night when I got home and I was trying to multi-task. At any rate, I wasn’t really watching my marmalade because I was at the computer trying to work. Unlike the proverbial watched pot, jammy things can be over-boiled. And when they cook too long they seize up—I was away from the stove for too long and I almost had orange peel brittle. Not good…
So I’ve been a bit fearful of marmalade since then because unlike other fruit jams, marmalade starts to crystallize when overcooked. Other jams might just get too gummy. Marmalade starts turning into candy, and candy has always struck me as a tough thing to make—I mean it requires thermometers and stuff and very easily seems to go wrong.
But I’ve been spying and trying these beautiful blood oranges at the farmer’s market over the past few months and couldn’t help but think they would make a really beautiful preserve. I mean the color of them. That ruby red—it’s like wine!
I finally broke down and hauled my sorry butt back into the kitchen last weekend for some Saturday Bloody Orange Saturday Marmalade fun. Since I so clearly didn’t know what I was doing the last time, I decided I would actually follow a recipe for once. Or maybe a method, if not the recipe, per se. I, of course, doctored what I found to my liking.
Marisa McClellan, who writes the Food in Jars canning blog, has a really simple methodology for blood orange marmalade that seemed pretty easy. Basically you cut your citrus up the night before you want to make the marmalade, cutting away the pith from the middle of the fruit and cutting off the ends. You save the pith and ends, tie them up in cheesecloth and place them in a large bowl with the fruit pieces. Then you soak all of that in water overnight in the fridge. The next day you add some sugar and boil it until it reduces by at least half and reaches 220°F. Then jar and water bath can.
I like this method because, well, because it’s easy! And it actually worked. This also may have been because I actually watched my pot this time. I also added lavender to it—I thought that would be interesting. I added about 2 tbsp. lavender to the overnight soak and then kept my lavender sachet in the pot the whole time the marmalade was cooking. I’m not sure I used enough though – citrus peel is pretty overwhelming so I’m not sure the subtlety of the lavender shines through or not. I can’t really taste it – so maybe I need to use more if I want it to make an impact.
Chuffed with the success of the Saturday Bloody Orange Saturday Marmalade, I decided to try another batch with another citrus fruit. That same Saturday night I happened to go to Michael Chiarello’s tapas place in San Francisco, Coqueta. One of the garnishes that came with one of the dishes my friend L. and I ordered was cara cara. Neither L. nor I knew what the heck cara cara was. As it turned out, it was a kind of citrus. The next morning I happened to see cara cara at the farmer’s market—apparently it is a cross between an orange and a grapefruit. The stand that was selling the cara cara had some cut up and it was such a pretty color—an orangey pink hue. I was sold.
Of course I felt the need to make it with some herbs. I thought thyme would be good with that grapefruit/orange combo. After tasting it right before jarring, I’m not sure I added enough even though I picked off the leaves of at least half a little bundle of thyme from the store, which probably amounted to a good 2 tablespoons. I guess I’ll know better if the thyme cuts through the peel when I crack open a jar! I also decided to go back to trying agave nectar as the sweetener rather than sugar. I forgot to add lemon juice—duh—but I’d suggest adding some.
Here’s the recipe, using the Food in Jars methodology:
Cara Cara Orange and Thyme Marmalade
5-6 cara cara oranges
3-4 cups water
2 ½ cups agave nectar
2-3 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1) Cut ends off the oranges, then cut them in half. Cut out the pith from the middle. Set ends and pith aside.
3) Gather ends and pith and tie up in a cheesecloth. Place in large bowl and cover with quartered fruit. Pour water over the fruit and refrigerate overnight to soften rinds.
That’s it! The cara caras make for a really nice hue that is more orangey than regular marmalade—it’s an even more orange orange that’s really pretty.
All recipes and photos copyright of Foie Gras and Funnel Cakes unless otherwise noted.