It's citrus season, when some of my favorite fruits are in plentiful supply. All winter, I keep a basket filled with navel oranges and clementines or mandarins on my kitchen counter. They look pretty and they're an easy, good-for-you snack. I send them to school in the small Bears' lunchboxes and I've been know to toss a couple pieces in my bag before leaving the house myself. After the excesses of December (both dietary and monetary), it's nice to have a cheap, healthy and eminently portable food that still feels like a treat.
Last week, I saw some beautiful tangelos in the grocery store. They were very affordable too, and I immediately thought about making marmalade with them. I hadn't made marmalade in two years; the plum-apple jam I'd made the summer before last was so plentiful that I felt we should finish it all before I did much more preserving. We finished it by the middle of this past summer. The time for new marmalade had come.
3 lbs. tangelos (about 6 large fruits)
3 cups water
4 cups sugar
Pectin, if needed (I used one tablespoon of powdered low-sugar pectin)
Prepare jam jars, rings and lids. There are lots of ways to do this, but I like to heat and sterilize my jars on a pile of newspaper in a very low oven, 200 degrees. The lids and rings go in a saucepan of water on the stove; bring to a boil and let simmer until needed.
Wash the tangelos thoroughly. Halve the tangelos and extract the juice. Cut the peels into quarters and, using a sharp knife, slice the peels into very thin strips (I like long ribbons of peel in my marmalade but you can cut them as long or short as you like).
Place juice, peels, sugar and water in a large pot. You can use a slotted spoon now to remove any seeds. Bring the mixture to a full boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to simmer (I added the bit of powdered pectin at this point; I wasn't sure if I really needed it, but I've come to look at it as jam-making insurance). The mixture will need to cook for at least 30 minutes (mine took close to 60 minutes before it was ready for canning). Test the fruit mixture on a saucer chilled in the freezer; properly cooked jam will set quickly on the cold surface (another way to tell: if you drag a finger through the cooled blob of jam on the plate and the finger track remains, the jam is ready).
When the mixture is ready, ladle it into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space and wiping rims with a wet paper towel. Quickly add hot lids and rings, screwing on until fingertip-tight. Process jars as desired (I follow USDA canning guidelines, adjusting for my location at high altitude). I filled and processed the four Kerr half-pint canning jars above, and partially filled a fifth jar, which I didn't process since we would be eating it right away. We ate it for lunch that day, while it was still a little warm, spread on sliced Italian bread. It was totally delicious. Cheerful too, the sweet-tart flavor and bright golden-orange color both very welcome in blustery, often-gray January.
"I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor." - D.H. Lawrence