This is a two day recipe
A pain, I know.
Blood Orange Bourbon Marmalade
I am moving from San Francisco to Philadelphia in July and one of the things that is concerning me about this move is whether or not I will be able to get blood oranges on the east coast. Fretting about fruit is surely a sign that my transformation into Northern California stereotype is complete and I should immediately decamp for the mean streets of New England or probably just the “Real America.” I may be a San Francisco softy but, you know, I really like being able to buy every ingredient needed for this recipe–liquor, designer fruit and sugar– at the same store. I also like to know they can all be had at 9am on a Sunday if that is when I want them. Which brings me to the other thing I’m going to miss about California – the luxuriously lax liquor laws.
Back to blood oranges. They are pretty much gone from the farmers markets now but I found them the other day so I bought 2 lbs and instead of eating them fresh decided that the reasonable thing to do would be to preserve their delicious tart flavor, in case I need a blood orange hit in the coming months. This recipe is based on one from The River Cottage Preserve Handbook. I hacked it a bit because I was worried about the finished product coming out too sweet. Also I became impatient with the setting process. See below for details.
The booze: bourbon
The other stuff: 2lbs oranges (blood oranges or other), a couple lemons, sugar, water
The directions: Juice all of the oranges into a large bowl. Set peels aside – you’ll want to cut them up into chunks or thin slices or whatever you prefer once you’re done juicing. When all the oranges are sliced, put the slices in the bowl with the orange juice and cover with 10 cups of water. Let refrigerate overnight.
After refrigeration, dump the oranges/orange water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until the orange peels become soft – approx. 1.5-2 hours. Squeeze in lemon juice, approx. half a cup. Now here’s where the recipe calls for you to add 10 cups of sugar. This seemed like way too much sugar, since I was looking for tart and tangy. So I added 6 cups, which I believe was still too much. Next time, I’ll go with 4 cups – tops.
Once you add the sugar stir until the marmalade reduces and sets. It’s pretty obvious when this happens because what once was water starts to look like jam. My recipe said this would take 25 minutes, but really it was more like an hour. I imagine the setting would have occurred faster if I had used the 1 to 1 water to sugar ratio. And since I was running late for a movie, I actually went ahead and poured off about 4 cups of water. The result was still too sweet for my taste – that’s where the bourbon comes in. After removing the set marmalade from the heat, stir in 1/2 cup of bourbon. Fill warm, sterilized jars with marmalade and seal immediately.
Thoughts and tips: I use marmalade and jam interchangeably in the directions above, and I assumed when I started this recipe that they were the same, though it struck me afterwards that maybe marmalade is meant to be very sweet? An internet search revealed the essential difference between jam and marmalade has to do with the use of whole fruits (used in jam, not used in marmalade) and citrus fruits (used exclusively in marmalade). Regardless, I advise cutting the sugar here unless you are some kind of sugar fiend. All the sugar overpowers the delicious tart-ness of blood oranges. Still this marmalade is pretty great. The whiskey goes a long way to cut the sweetness – you can really taste it, so it’s kind of like spreading a cocktail on your morning toast.
Not sure what to do with all your marmalade? Besides toast, I think it makes the perfect after work snack with cheese and bread. I like to make an open face sandwich with baguette, marmalade and sharp cheddar or goat cheese. Really whatever’s in the fridge is fine. This snack plus beer=happy me.
General preserving tips can be found here. I used to put everything in a water bath just to be safe, but you can be less paranoid about bacteria when working with alcohol so I just washed the jars in soap and hot water, placed them in a low oven for 10 minutes before I filled with the marm. and let them seal themselves.