With only 15 minutes of hands-on time, this delicious (not-bitter) Blood Orange Marmalade brings a little sunshine to the breakfast table! No canning skills needed!
I remember liking the "idea" of marmalade. It sounded so delicious; a jam made of juicy sweet oranges and orange zest had to be delicious and have lots of fresh, bright, vibrant flavor. It sounded charming, something I should enjoy while sipping a cup of tea and enjoying a crumpet, scone or English muffin. But in reality, marmalade wasn't actually on my "favorite" list. Every time I tried it, the flavor was bitter, the jam had a dull color and there was too much tough, coarse orange peel. But this Blood Orange Marmalade totally changed my "marmalade" thinking!
Tasting is believing!
Fast forward. I decided to try a recipe on the Kraft Food site for their Orange Freezer Marmalade. I'd made lots of freezer jams and jellies before, and loved the fresh flavor and beautiful color that were preserved with this technique. But I decided to adapt their recipe just a teeny bit by using this small (inexpensive) zester to remove the peel instead of a vegetable peeler as they suggested. I also employed a few tips I've learned with the zillions of batches of freezer jam I've made over the years.
The results were delicious and I'm definitely now a believer and lover of marmalade - well at least this kind of marmalade. And while it's delicious made with common naval oranges, I couldn't resist trying it this year with some of the gorgeous blood oranges I found at my local market.
What are blood oranges?
The name might not always seem that appetizing, but I love the description of blood oranges from WebMd: "Blood oranges may have a sinister-sounding name, but they’re just a natural mutation of standard oranges." They go on to say, "The blood orange was first cultivated in Italy, but it has since spread throughout the world."
Blood oranges usually have a rosy, crimson blush on the outside, but when you cut them open, that's when the name makes total sense. The flesh and juice are varying shades of beautiful ruby red. And when I say "varying", it's so true. I've found that blood oranges from the same bag or bin at the grocery store can have a vast variety of hues.
What makes blood oranges red?
The red color comes from a pigment called anthocyanin which is the same one found in cherries, raspberries, grapes, blueberries, currants, red cabbage, pansies and eggplant, to name a few. Anthocyanins are also the pigments associated with the dazzling fall foliage displays. They aren't present in leaves during the early growing season but are actively produced in late summer. What a magnificent Creator we have!
Blood oranges have a unique flavor too, with notes of raspberry and pomegranate along with lots of delicious, sweet citrus flavor. The amazing color and fabulous taste take everyday marmalade to a delicious new level!
What's not to love?
Everyone who's tried this pretty, sweet confection seems to love it. But what's not to love? A beautiful, delicious jam made from the fresh, vibrant zest and sweet juicy fruit of the prettiest oranges on the face of the earth!
I recently gave my daughter-in-law a few jars of our Strawberry Freezer Jam, as well as a jar of this Easy Blood Orange Marmalade. She said that each morning she gives our granddaughter, Emmy a choice of the two jams. Lindsay reported that every time Emmy chooses the marmalade. Do you think there might be a little connoisseur in the making?
A dazzling color!
I'm crazy about freezer jam because the fresh flavor and vibrant hues of the fruit is preserved. You may have noticed that most commercial marmalade has a somewhat "dull" color (even though the ingredient label usually includes one or more artificial food colors). It's due to the cooking process involved, which strips a lot of the color as well as that "fresh fruit" flavor. Not so with freezer jam, as there's no cooking involved.
"No canning skills..."
No canning skills are needed either, as the jam is stored in the refrigerator (for several weeks) or the freezer (for months). I love that, since standing over a hot kettle (to make jam/jelly shelf-stable) has never been my favorite thing to do!
Did you know marmalade can be used for lots of things other than just as a delicious topping for toast, scones or English muffins? It's wonderful spooned over yogurt, ice cream, pudding, panna cotta, or cheesecake... It can also be used in savory dishes to make sweet & spicy sauces (for chicken, pork and seafood), salad dressings, sandwich spreads (just mix with a little good grainy mustard), etc.
It also makes a wonderful gift! Who wouldn't love receiving a jar of delicious cheerful sunshine for their breakfast, lunch and dinner enjoyment? I created a label for this Blood Orange Marmalade that I'm happy to share if you'd like to use it too. Just leave a comment below in the comment section at the bottom of this post.
We (my daughter-in-law, Lindsay helps with this) will email you a PDF for the labels. All you have to do is click on the attachment to open up the PDF reader on your computer. It's easy to print them up for your gifting! The labels also make them easy to find and organize in your refrigerator or freezer.
So be sure to pick up some blood oranges (you'll need six to ten, depending on the size) before this delicious (but fleeting) season ends. You'll be super happy for months to come when you pull out those beautiful jars of crimson sunshine!
Café Tips for making this Blood Orange Marmalade
- Look for heavy-feeling blood oranges with a pretty, shiny peel. These will be juicier than lighter oranges with rough (usually thick peels).
- When zesting your oranges, it’s important to get just the colored part of the skin. The white part underneath (called the pith) is bitter. You don’t want that.
- As mentioned above, I use this zester to zest my oranges. The zest is not too fine, but not too coarse and it doesn’t get any of the pith. If you can’t get one of these small zesters, use a vegetable peeler to remove just the colored zest. Then cut the peel into thin slivers.
- The instructions call for bringing the pectin and water mixture to a "full rolling boil". A full rolling boil means a boil that cannot be stirred down. Keep an eye on it though and adjust the heat so the mixture doesn't boil over.
- A funnel is really helpful when transferring the marmalade to the jars. I love this set that fits wide and regular Mason jars. The small one also works with the pretty Weck jars you see in this post.
- Weck jars are a really fun way to store this jam for gifting. You can find the Weck jars picture above here. I also love these slightly taller Weck jars for jams, jellies and marmalades.
- This jam, if made as directed, is not processed with a hot water bath so it is NOT shelf-stable. Keep it in the refrigerator when not in use or it can be frozen for long-term (4-6 months) storage. If you use this marmalade as a gift, be sure to tell the recipient(s) to store the jam in the refrigerator when not in use.
- If you prefer to can this Blood Orange Marmalade in a hot water bath, here are instructions for that. The beautiful hue may darken though when put through the water bath.
- Don’t try to change the proportions/amounts of the ingredients and be sure to measure carefully. Making marmalade (and other jams and jellies) like this is an exact science and you can end up with problems with the jam setting if you alter the ingredients.
- Feel free to leave a comment below if you would like me to send you a PDF for the label pictured above. I simply print them out of cardstock or good-quality paper and cut out the labels. I use tacky, quick-drying craft glue to attach the labels.
- I love this blue and white check ribbon for decorating these jars. It’s great quality, inexpensive and you get a ton of it on a roll (50 yards!).
Thought for the day:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
You anoint my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
- 2⅓ cups prepared fruit (you'll need 6-10 blood oranges, depending on the size) you can also use a mix of navel and blood oranges
- 4¼ cups sugar measured into separate bowl
- ¾ cup water
- 1 1.75 ounce box powdered fruit pectin I use SURE-JELL
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Wash clean glass jars (or plastic containers) and lids with hot water or run through the dishwasher. Dry thoroughly. (You'll end up with 5 cups of jam, so the number of jars you'll need will depend on what size they are.)
Wash the oranges well and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
Remove colored zest (just the colored part, not the white pith) from 6 of the oranges using a small zester (this one works so well). If you can’t get one of the small zesters, use a vegetable peeler to remove just the colored zest. Then cut the peel into thin slivers, or finely chop.
Trim off the top and bottom of each of the zested oranges. Then, cut off all of the remaining white pith. Cut each orange in half and remove the center white core. Coarsely chop the remaining fruit, reserving any juice and discarding any seeds.
Measure exactly 2⅓ cups of the fruit mixture into large bowl. If you dont have enough, zest and peel more oranges until you have exactly 2⅓ cups. Stir in sugar until well mixed (the mixture will be grainy at this point).
Microwave on high power for 3 minutes. Stir mixture well. If still grainy (which it probably will be) microwave for another 2 minutes. Stir well. Most of the sugar should be dissolved at this point. If not continue to stir then microwave for another minute or two.
(As an alternative to using the microwave, you can combine the zest, chopped oranges, juice and sugar in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil and boil for 30 seconds then remove from the heat and proceed as directed below with the pectin.)
Mix water and pectin in a medium saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 full minute.
Add hot pectin and lemon juice to the fruit mixture and stir for 3 minutes. (Don't cheat! Set a timer.) The sugar should be dissolved and the marmalade should no longer be grainy. (A few sugar crystals may remain.)
Fill prepared containers immediately to within ½-inch of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers and immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours (if you can wait!). Marmalade is now ready to use. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or freeze extra containers up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator before using.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips.
This recipe yields 5 cups of jam. The number of jars will depend on the size of your jars.