I have found that people either love Orange Marmalade or really dislike it. I used to fall into the latter camp; however, I wound up marrying a marmalade lover. Opposites attract, right? My husband likes to bring me a large bag of fresh oranges from the fruit stand (it’s close to Home Depot naturally) and sweetly ask that I make a batch of Orange Marmalade. Of course, I can’t say no! So I used to sigh dramatically, even pout a little and then let the bag sit there for a few days. Eventually I would get around to dealing with that bag of oranges because I felt sorry when I caught him looking around the kitchen for newly canned jars of orange-looking jam. I was also tired of tripping over the hefty 25 lb bag of oranges.
I just didn’t get the appeal. I mean marmalade has rind in it and orange rind is bitter. Ick. And Orange Marmalade takes a little bit more effort to make in comparison to, let’s say, a berry jam. Which accounted for my rather dramatic sighing. It was just a lot of work and I didn’t even like Orange Marmalade.
My grandmother, Etta, made marmalade every year and always used the recipe on the box of MCP brand pectin. But I didn’t want to use pectin so I struggled. Some batches would fail miserably and end up thick & sticky (too much sugar or overcooked). Some batches were just bitter and awful tasting and I had to toss them and start over. More pouting and sighing. I finally began looking for a new recipe. And….wow! I quickly discovered that there are a whole lotta recipes out there for making ‘traditional’ Orange Marmalade. After experimenting with several different ones, I ended up piecing together my own Orange Marmalade recipe using tips and techniques that I learned and read about. And guess what? I figured it out! Whoohoo! This recipe does take some planning and effort but it hasn’t failed me yet.
Note – This recipe makes a sweet marmalade. So if you like the bitter rind and you’re looking for a bitter Orange Marmalade, move on my friend. Just keep on clicking…this ain’t a bitter recipe. Got it?
Start with 5 lbs. of fresh oranges (about 20). I recommend using Valencia oranges. Valencias are thin-skinned and super juicy. The variety pictured below are Cara Caras which are also very sweet and have a lovely blush colored fruit. Blood oranges and Sevilla oranges are also popular to use for marmalade but Valencias are more readily available in Riverside County.
Wash and slice the oranges in half. Go ahead and peel the oranges and place the segments in a large storage container. Don’t toss the peels because you’re going to use them! Place the orange segments in a large storage container. Add 1 cup of granulated sugar to the oranges. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
You still have those orange peels, right? Now are we are going to cook 2 or 3 of them. These will be those lovely pieces of rind “floating” in your golden marmalade. Because a marmalade isn’t a marmalade unless it has rind in it! So put the peels in a small sauce pan and add enough to almost cover the peels. Bring the water to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and cover with a lid. Just let these rest for a while and cool down.
Next, you will cut the cooked rind into sections or strips. The rind should be soft and pliable. Flatten a section on your cutting board and scrape off the white, bitter-tasting pith. Try to remove as much of the white pith as you can. Finally cut the rind into small strips. Some people like long, thin strips in their marmalade but I like to keep the pieces small. Store the rind in a storage container until you are read to begin cooking your marmalade.
Okay! Are you ready to begin cooking? If so, get out your large dutch oven or stock pot. Dump in the macerated oranges and add 6 cups of water. Go ahead and add your orange rind pieces. The amount you toss in is up to your preference – try starting with 1/4 cup. Add more if you are just plain crazy about orange rind. Bring the mixture to a boil over a medium-high flame. Then reduce heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes.
After the orange mixture has cooked for 30 minutes, remove it from the heat and let it sit and cool down. I usually cook my marmalade in 2 steps. After it has cooled down, I will cover it and let it sit in the refrigerator over night.
Don’t want to wait? Or are you done waiting? Add 1/2 cup of water and 6 cups of sugar to the cooking pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture frequently until it has reached the gel stage. Skim off any foam.
Ladle your marmalade into clean, glass jars. If you are going to can your jars, process them for 10 minutes using the water-bath canning method.
Now I realize this recipe takes some time but it’s worth it. My marmalade always turns out and I no longer dread making it. So just plan ahead and make the jam in steps. Good luck!