I’m participating in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge this year and January is all about making marmalade. It’s been many years since I made marmalade as my first and only attempt a long time ago with bitter Seville oranges made a batch that I didn’t like at all. When my father in law visited and said that he actually liked it, I sent him home with all the remaining jars! And I never made marmalade again.
As a result of that earlier experience I was a little uncertain when I saw that marmalade was first up with Marisa’s FIJ Mastery Challenge, but I joined the Food in Jars Facebook group and started seeing posts from (mostly) women all over the place about “marmalade” being made with strawberries, kiwis, cherries, cranberries, kumquats, lemons and more! And people were talking about different kinds of oranges too, oranges I didn’t even know existed. These posts revealed to me that marmalade could be something other than what I imagined! (They were also fun to read as a reminder that some people live in parts of the world where oranges grow on trees in their backyard…nice.)
I found Cara Cara oranges at the Market on Millstream in Langford and decided to try this Cara Cara Orange and Vanilla Marmalade. The Cara Caras sounded right up my alley because they were said to be a sweet orange and a beautiful colour – sort of halfway between the regular navel orange colour we all know and the red of blood oranges. I bought five for the recipe which called for four oranges, ate the fifth to try it out, and it was great. The appeal of using real vanilla bean was there in this recipe as well. (Not cheap, but well worth it.)
If you’re interested in making marmalade this winter, I’ll warn you right away that this recipe took a LONG time. Yesterday it took me quite some time to cut up four oranges and two lemons in thin slices, and today the cooking time was significant – much longer than what the recipe advised.
Here are the lemons and oranges all cut up and ready to be boiled in water in my Dutch oven:
And this is after the first 40 minutes of boiling, right after I put the berry sugar and vanilla bean in (that’s what you see in the middle that looks like a cloud of pepper – it’s not!):
This is after the second 40 minutes of boiling while I was waiting for the temperature to increase on my candy thermometer. The boiling ended up taking about 30-40 extra minutes over what it said on the recipe:
After many unsuccessful gel tests on cold plates (I later read Marisa’s canning instructions in the Food in Jars cookbook that Cara Cara oranges – because they are virtually seedless – actually need a little pectin added to achieve a better set – that would have been great to know earlier!), I finally decided it was ready to can. The recipe said it would make five cups and for me it actually made nine so prepare some extra jars if you make that recipe so you don’t get caught out not having enough like me. (Friends of mine are getting the extra today!)
Here is the finished product, just pulled from the water bath:
And I just had to have some on a piece of toast to try it right away:
It is delicious, much better than the bitter Seville marmalade that was my first attempt years ago.
Full disclosure: You might notice some dark parts in the marmalade. This is due to the unexpected extra long cooking time and me not realizing that the mixture was burning a bit on the bottom. At the end I fished out some of the particularly dark parts and didn’t use some at the bottom of the pan. It still tasted great though and I had so much mixture that I wasn’t concerned about 1/3 cup of wastage. Next time I’ll keep a better eye on the later stirring though so this doesn’t happen.
Overall the cooking and processing time this morning took me about three hours, so I got some other things done in the kitchen while it was bubbling away. It was a lot of effort to make this recipe but the yield was good, much more than I’m sure we’ll eat even over the course of a year. And it was nice to do a little indoor, “easy” work while the winter sun was streaming in and I didn’t have anywhere else to be. Just note that the linked recipe here has some holes in it so you may wish to: a) add a little pectin, b) add the vanilla bean in when you add the vanilla bean seeds in (as the recipe didn’t mention this specifically, you have to read between the lines) and c) remember that the cooking time might take longer than expected. Enjoy!