With only 15 minutes of hands-on time, this delicious (not-bitter) marmalade brings a little sunshine to the breakfast table! No canning skills needed!
I remember liking the “idea” of marmalade. Yum, a jam made of juicy sweet oranges had to have fresh, bright, vibrant flavor. But when it came right down to it, marmalade wasn’t on my “favorite” list. Too bitter, not very pretty and too many strips of orange peel. Anyone know what I mean?
Fast forward to the first time I tried the recipe on the Kraft Food‘s site for 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. I decided to adapt the recipe just a teeny bit by using this small (inexpensive) zester to remove the peel instead of a vegetable peeler as they suggest. 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 a believer and a 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.
The blood orange is a variety that originated in Sicily, Spain and China, but they are now grown all over the world. They 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 a beautiful ruby red.
What makes 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 activity 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 takes everyday marmalade to a delicious new level!
Everyone who’s tried this pretty, sweet confection seems to love it. I recently gave my daughter-in-law a few jars of Strawberry Freezer Jam, as well as one jar of this Easy Blood Orange Marmalade. She said that each morning she gives our little 3-year granddaughter, Emmy a choice of the two jams. Every time she picks the marmalade. I have a feeling there might be a little connoisseur in the making!
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 has never been my favorite thing to do!
And did you know marmalade has lots of uses other than a delicious topping for toast, scones or English muffins? It makes a wonderful topping for yogurt, ice cream, cheese cakes. 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.
Be sure to pick up some blood oranges (you’ll need four to five) before it’s fleeting season ends. You’ll be super happy for months to come when you pull out those little jars of sunshine!
P.S. If you’ve ever made freezer jam and it’s turned out a bit grainy, no worries! I’ve discovered a few short stints in the microwave will prevent that problem.
For your Pinning pleasure:
Here are a few items I used in preparing this recipe:
- 2-⅓ cups prepared fruit purchase 4-5 medium blood oranges you can also use a mix of navel and blood oranges
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4-¼ cups sugar** measured into separate bowl
- ¾ cup water
- 1 1.75 ounce box powdered fruit pectin I use SURE-JELL
- 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.)
- Remove colored zest (just the colored part, not the white pitch) from the blood oranges using a small zester (I love this one). 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.
- Peel oranges and discard remaining white part of peel from the oranges. Coarsely chop the fruit, reserving any juice. Mix fruit and juice with the slivered peel and the lemon juice.
- Measure exactly** 2 1/3 cups of the fruit mixture into large bowl. (If needed, add a bit of water or orange juice to make exactly 2 1/3 cups). Stir in sugar until well mixed.
- 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.
- Mix water and pectin in a medium saucepan. Bring to a full boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 full minute.
- Add hot pectin to the fruit mixture and stir for 3 minutes. 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 1/2 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.
* The white pith has a bitter taste so try to avoid as much of it as possible. Using a light hand when zesting will help with this.
** Making jams, jellies and marmalade is an exact science. Be sure to measure everything carefully for good results!
Yield: 5 cups of jam.