In search of a sparkling marmalade

marmalade-jar

Marmalade has been a bit of a problem area for me. I have made jars and jars of it over the years (many of which are still in the cupboard), but seldom made one I’ve really been satisfied with. I’ve made ones with more peel than jam, that are very hard to spread, and others that are more of a caramelised orange syrup – boiled so long and hard that the sugar caramelised, but it never really set.

The pectin you need to set the marmalade comes from the peel, pith, membranes and seeds. There is a very easy recipe that has you boil the oranges whole, to get all that pectin going, then cool and chop them up, before adding the sugar and boiling to set. However, including all of this makes for a very lumpy recipe, which is ultimately a bit unsatisfying to spread on your toast.

I searched around, and came across June Taylor, an englishwoman living in Berkeley, who makes much-loved preserves distributed in the Bay Area. These sounded like just the sort of thing to aspire to – clear, colourful marmalade, with the taste of the fruit.

Fortunately, June has been generous with her time on more than one occasion, and I found a few sources to help me. Most helpful of all was a video on Chow, which shows clearly all her techniques:

Video: June Taylor and her marmalade – Chow

The New York Times: Jelly’s Last Jam

The San Francisco Chronicle: Jars of marmalade dance in her head

I took my recipe from the last one, but halved it – because I really couldn’t see myself getting through 12lbs of marmalade. The big difference between June’s recipes and other marmalade recipes I have seen is that she segments all the fruit – removing the fruit flesh from the membranes and skin. Now, I’m not pretending this is going to be easy – it’s very time consuming to do – it probably took me 1.5 to 2 hours to prepare all the fruit for this. But I did end up with a beautiful orange jelly, that set just perfectly. So it may be worth it if that’s what you’re after.

marmalade-on-muffin

Tangerine and Grapefruit Marmalade

  • 1kg pink grapefruit
  • 2 kg tangerines (I used a combination of tangerines, mandarins and a couple of oranges)
  • 90 ml lemon juice (3 or 4 lemons-worth)
  • 1 kg granulated sugar
  • 600ml water
  • Wash all the fruit – scrub the peel with soap.
  • Take 4 of the nicest-looking, least-blemished tangerines. Top and tail the peel from them, and segment with the peel on, then slice into thin slices across the segment.
  • Take the remaining fruit, top and tail them, and then cut off the peel in curve from the top to the bottom. Segmenting an orange is quite tricky to describe, so instead of trying, you’re best off with an instructional video or a series of photos.
  • Place all the segments and juice into a large, wide pan, with the lemon juice and water.
  • Place all the membranes and seeds into a square of muslin or a jelly bag, and tie it up with string. Use the string to suspend the bag into the pan in the juice.
  • Put the pan onto the heat and bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Lift the bag out onto a plate until cool enough to handle. Stir the sugar into the hot fruit to dissolve. When the bag has cooled, squeeze it over the pan to extract the pectin – a cloudy, smooth, thick substance. Massage and squeeze the bag for 5-10 minutes to extract as much as possible – this is what will make it set. Put a couple of saucers or small plates into the fridge.
  • Bring the pan back to the boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes, testing for a set after 25 minutes. If you have a sugar thermometer, it should reach 106C/222F. Test for a set by dripping a little on a refrigerated plate, and put back into the fridge to chill. If you can mound it up so it looks like an egg yolk, or it gets a wrinkle on the surface when you push across it, it is ready.
  • Use a ladle or a measuring jug to pour the hot marmalade into clean, hot, sterilised jars (sterilise by washing in very hot soapy water, or running through a dishwasher, then drying in an oven at 130C).

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louise-marston

I’m Louise, and I’m a compulsive baker, cookbook hoarder and a bit of a food geek. I learnt to cook at home, and later at Tante Marie’s cooking school in San Francisco. With a science degree and a background in IT analysis, I like to understand why a recipe works, not just how to do it. Why the rules are there and when they can be broken.

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