I love trying new things. If you’re a frequent visitor to The Café you’ll know I love to put a little bit different twist on things to take the ordinary and spin it in a whole new direction. But every now and then I get the urge to go more traditional, just to see if I might be missing out on anything really wonderful and that’s what I was thinking last week when I decided to make marmalade.
We enjoy homemade jams and jellies and I’ve been making them for as long as I can remember. Traditional jam making involves preparing the fruit, sterilizing the jars and lids, simmering the fruit mixture on the stovetop and finishing with a water bath to seal the jars and give them an extended shelf life. Being a bit lazy, that always seemed like a lot of work to me, plus I didn’t like the way cooking the fresh fruit changed the taste and color.
Years ago I learned about freezer jam, decided to give it a try and it’s been my modus operandi ever since. I love the idea of retaining the vibrant flavor and beautiful hues of fruit straight from the vine, tree or garden. Freezer jam eliminates the need to sterilize the jars, simmer on the stove top and the complicated (to me) water bath. It’s so simple that I’m almost embarrassed to tell you; cut up the fruit, add sugar, stir it all together with pectin and fill up the jars. Yup, that’s it! The result is jam with the freshest, most delicious flavor and if you close your eyes and take a taste, you might get magically transported to your favorite strawberry patch, apple orchard, or vineyard!
It seems like a no-brainer, right? Why would you want jam that has dull color, cooked-fruit flavor and takes lots more work? I don’t know either, but last week when I decided to make the marmalade, I thought that perhaps, like I mentioned earlier, I just might be missing out on something awesome. After all, this traditional method is how most jams, jellies and marmalades are made, right? So I gave it a whirl. I slaved over a hot stove, stirring and simmering for what seemed like an eternity, trying to be conventional and “authentic”. I saw the fruit mixture go from a vibrant orangish-yellow to a dull golden brown. I kept thinking “it’s caramelizing, that’s a good thing, right?”
NOT! I was so disappointed and the results were definitely not blog-worthy. Check out the photos and you’ll see just what I mean. We have a commitment to only post recipes that we LOVE here at The Café. We did not love (or even like) this marmalade. The freshness of the fruit had disappeared and the color, well let’s just say after my husband (and photographer) took the first photo, I said “stop, right now, this looks awful!”. It had nothing to do with his photography, only the jam itself being dull and lifeless-looking.
SO, I learned my lesson and this week I decided to re-do my marmalade with my old stand by freezer-jam method. The pictures tell the delicious story and this one had to make the blog! Fresh pineapple and seasonal navel oranges combine to make a delicious, vibrant flavored marmalade. We love this on toast, scones and English muffins, but it’s also wonderful in sauces for main entrees and a fun delicious ingredient for appetizers and desserts.
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
- 3-4 medium navel oranges
- 4 ¼ cups sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 1 box SURE JELL powdered fruit pectin
- Prepare glass jars or plastic containers and lids by washing them in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher. I like to use 1/2 pint and 1/4 pint size jars, but feel free to use any size. The recipe will make 5 cups of marmalade.
- Remove the colored part of peel from the oranges using a vegetable peeler or zester. I like to use one of these. It works perfectly to remove small strips of zest. If you use a vegetable peeler, cut the peel into thin slivers, or finely chop. Peel and discard the remaining white part of peel from the oranges. Finely chop the orange fruit, discarding any membranes and saving any juice. Mix fruit and juice with the slivered peel and add the pineapple. Measure 2-1/3 cups of the fruit mixture into a large bowl. If you have extra, discard or save for another use. Stir in sugar. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, stirring every minute. Allow to sit for several hours stirring occasionally until all sugar crystals are dissolved. If necessary microwave again for 3 minutes to dissolve any remaining sugar crystals.
- When fruit mixture is completely combined with the sugar, combine the water and pectin in small saucepan. Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Add to fruit mixture; stir continuously for 3 minutes.
- Fill all containers immediately to within a 1/2" of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers; immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Marmalade is now ready to use. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or freeze extra containers up to one year. Thaw in refrigerator before using. Makes 5 cups marmalade.