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  • Kathy

Sunshiny Orange Marmalade

Keeping in line with our themes this week of oranges and reducing Food Waste- we couldn’t go past marmalade! Talk about a food that uses the entire fruit! This recipe is very simple- wash, cut, boil. Zero waste, minimal fuss. 

Not just for sweet treats, marmalade is a food waste fighting hero. If you think back to when refrigeration was not prevalent- there were many ways to preserve food- keeping those sunshiny flavours available all year and making the most of the food you purchased with your hard earned money! In our modern fight on Food Waste- thinking back to some of these classic techniques can help us take some of those small steps we have been discussing. Is it practical to make marmalade or candied peel out of every orange we eat- no- but why not use what we can, and more importantly- we all need to raise our awareness of what we buy and throw away! Why not make a few batches to put away while our glorious Aussie citrus is in season and is so affordable!

Amazingly versatile, marmalade can of course be used on your morning toast or on scones. It can also be a filling in a cake, a beautiful glaze (on almost anything), used as a marinade for meat or even be a key component in a spicy vegetable stir fry! 

Marmalade is sweet- there is no denying that. If the recipe seems to ask for a crazy amount of sugar- remember you only eat a tiny bit at a time. Can you make it with less sugar? Technically the answer is yes….but…the proper amount of sugar needs to be included primarily to help the marmalade set and to prevent the flavor and texture from changing over time. Making marmalade with less sugar may also shorten its shelf life.

It can be tricky to know how runny or thick marmalade should be, especially when it’s still cooking. Once cooked marmalade cools, it will continue to thicken up. 

When can you stop cooking marmalade? The cold plate method worked for me to determine how far along the marmalade is. You can spoon a dollop of hot marmalade on a plate and put it in the freezer to chill, or spoon some over an icy cold plate fresh from the freezer. If the mixture wrinkles slightly when you draw a spoon or finger across it, it has reached the setting point. Your marmalade is ready to go!

Marmalade takes 24-48 hours for the natural pectin to set up completely. If your marmalade is still a little runny looking when it cools, check again in a day or two. 

A bit of a rebel- I recently made a batch with a grapefruit in place of one of the oranges- because I had one and didn’t want to waste it. I think the grapefruit skin contains a large amount of pectin as my marmalade set up straight away and I ended up reducing the cooking time by about 30 minutes based on the plate test. I was very uncertain- but sure enough- it set. So the lesson here- is watch your marmalade closely- the performance is more important than the times.

Makes about 3 Litres

What you need- 

  1. 4 large seedless orangesscrubbed clean (about 1.5 Kg)

  2. 2 lemons (about 250 g)

  3. 8 cups water

  4. 8 cups sugar

  5. Cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves or vanilla pod (optional)

Instructions

  1. First, cut washed oranges and lemons in half crosswise, then into very thin half-moon slices. Discard any seeds. Place the sliced fruit along with their juices into a stainless steel pot

  2. Add water and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature. If you are adding any of the spices- add them now.

  3. The next day, bring the mixture back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 2 hours. Turn heat up to medium and boil gently, stirring often, for another 30 minutes.

  4. Skim off any foam that forms on the top. Cook the marmalade until it reaches 220 degrees (you must hit this temperature for the natural pectin to gel with the sugar). 

  5. If you want to be doubly sure the marmalade is ready, place a small amount on a plate and refrigerate it until it’s cool but not cold. If it’s firm–-neither runny nor hard–- it’s ready. It will be a golden orange color. If the marmalade is runny, continue cooking it; if it’s hard, just add a bit more water.

  6. Pour the marmalade into clean hot jars; wipe the rims thoroughly with a clean damp paper towel, and seal with the lids. Chill in the refrigerator. It may take 24-48 hours for the natural pectin to set up properly.

Notes

If putting up for storage, use a hot water or steam canner to properly seal lids, according to canning instructions. Otherwise, refrigerate and use within the month. Or, freeze for up to 3 months.

What do you think about food preserving? Do you have any favourite methods?

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