I don’t usually buy blood oranges. They are expensive, and aside from being so very pretty, I have never been convinced that they are better than other (cheaper) citrus fruit. I think that the ones that we get in New York are actually grown in California, but there are famously from Spain and Italy. They are only able to develop their characteristic red color when the nights are cool, so blood oranges are only available for a couple of months when conditions are right. I have to admit that they have a very dramatic color and a lovely, delicate, perfumed flavour.
Blood oranges prices have been reduced for the last week or so because it is the end of the season. I bought a lot of them. I wanted to take advantage of the relatively reasonable price to figure out a worthwhile use for these oh so romantic fruits. My main interest in citrus fruit is making it into curds or marmalades, a process which involves boiling and lots of sugar. Do I really need to pay full price for fruit that I am going to boil with sugar? No I do not.
I made A LOT of blood orange marmalade recipes. I am usually a fan of unfussy marmalades that use the whole fruit like my favourite Bitter Seville Orange Marmalade recipe. But with blood oranges, I found that the bitter white pith (which I usually love) overwhelmed that delicate perfumed flavour and make the marmalade pink instead of red. It just as easily could have been grapefruit marmalade, which would have been way cheaper to make. Also, I found out that there are three varieties of blood orange, Moro, Tarocco and Sanguinello. The Moro variety has brightest red fruit. Here are some pictures of the different batches of blood orange that I got and you can see how the color varies. Of course, the shops never specify which kind of blood orange they are selling, but it might be worth asking about if you have your heart set on a very dark red marmalade.The recipe below is based on a fussy and time-consuming recipe way to make marmalade, but I think is worthwhile in this case. This technique really lets the best qualities of the blood oranges, their intense color and their perfume, shine. It produces a lovely deep red jam with beautiful delicate wisps of citrus peel. It is neither too sweet, nor too bitter. It is good even without the rosewater and almond, but the they do bolster the natural perfume of the blood oranges. Making a small amount of this marmalade for someone who you really love is very satisfying and well worth the time and cost!
This recipe makes only a small amount so you may just want to skip canning it and eat it soonish from your fridge. I’ve included directions for canning though, in case you want to make some WAAAAAAY in advance for your Valentines Day 2013 while the blood oranges are cheap!
LABOUR OF LOVE BLOOD ORANGE MARMALADE
Inspired by Kitchenette’s Blood Orange and Meyer Lemon Marmalade and Delia Smith’s Traditional Seville Orange Marmalade and Bitter Orange Marmalade with Rosewater and Almonds in Saha by Greg and Lucy Malouf
- 1 and 1/2 lb blood oranges (scrubbed clean)
- 1 Meyer lemon (scrubbed clean)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons rosewater
- 1/3 cup blanched, sliced almonds, lightly toasted
- Put an empty plate in the fridge. Cut the oranges and lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a large measuring cup through a fine mesh sieve. Push on the pulp to get all of the juice out. You should have a little over 1 cup of juice. Save the pulp and seeds.
- Cut the peels in half again and place them, peel down, on a cutting board. Using a sharp very knife (if you are brave) or a spoon (if you are accident prone), cut away all of the membrane and as much of the white pit has possible. A little bit of pith left on is fine, but the peel should look polka-dotted. Slice the peels into very thin slivers. Set the membrane and pith aside along with the pulp and seeds on a square of cheesecloth and tie the corners up to make a little sack. I found that I had enough of these odd bits to fill two pouches.
- Combine the juice, water, peels and sacks of odd bits in a nonreactive pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for half an hour.
- Remove the sacks and set them aside to cool. Add the sugar to the juice and peel mixture and let the sugar dissolve before bringing it back to a boil
- When the sacks are cool enough to handle squeeze their liquid into the pot. This liquid is full of pectin! Discard the sacks. Simmer the jam until it has reached 220 degrees for a full minute. If you don’t have a thermometer check the jam by dropping a small amount of marmalade onto your chilled plate and put it back in the fridge for five minutes to see if it is set. If not boil it for a few more minutes and check again!
- Let the marmalade stand for 10 minutes before potting.
SAFELY POTTING MARMALADE IN HALF PINT JARS
- Boil the jars and lids for 10 minutes in a canner or a pot with some sort of rack in the bottom. Be sure to add the glass jars before the water is boiling (to prevent cracking) and start the timer only after the water has reached a full boil. Allow the jars to air dry on a clean rack.
- Fill the jars with warm marmalade, leaving 1/4 inch head space at the top. Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean cloth and seal the jars with the lid and the ring.
- Drop the sealed jars into to a boiling hot water (don’t forget the canner or rack) and process for 10 minutes.
- Remove the jars and leave them alone. The next day, tap the top of the can to make sure that the lid is sealed. If the lid gives at all, the seal is no good. Just put the unsealed ones in your fridge and eat them soonish.