As I wrote about earlier, I’m participating in the mastery challenge led by Food in Jars—and going full throttle with it. After making the lemon ginger marmalade, I dived right into making blood orange marmalade. I chose to make an additional marmalade because I thought making a traditional marmalade before making one with a friend might make me feel more confident in my role as the more experienced canner.
Before my friend decided she wanted to make prickly pear marmalade, she considered a blood orange marmalade. Blood orange marmalade sounded pretty darn tasty (and colorful) to me. So, of the three marmalades I’m making, I chose this one both for me and for a friend. I set aside one of my precious labor-intensive half pints on the counter; when she comes over this afternoon to make prickly pear marmalade, I’ll present it to her.
In doing this challenge, I’ve learned that some marmalades are very time intensive. Both the lemon ginger and the blood orange marmalades required me to not only remove the peel and the pith, but the membranes around each individual segment of fruit. Not all marmalades require this step, but these two did. When I first read the instructions, I was flummoxed. How does one remove a membrane? I eventually settled on using my knife to slit the slender tip of the segment open lengthwise and peeling back the membrane. My recipe called for three pounds of blood oranges, so I spent an inordinate amount of time peeling back the membranes on the oranges.
Whenever I spend a long time doing something repetitive, I often get very, very silly. I started occasionally shouting “men’s brains!” while cutting open a new segment in the best zombie-esque or Doctor Frankenstein’s voice I could muster. This amused my husband, so I naturally kept it up. I’d squeeze the membranes to eke out the last bit of juice, and it’d run red from my hands while I muttered men’s brains at my husband. A couple of times one of the segments would squirt when I sliced it open, and I ended up with a nice blood-orange splatter on my face and neck. The special effects for my marmalade show were fantastic.
All jokes aside, this marmalade was my first anything that I’ve made that did not use pectin (notwithstanding a few fruit butters I’ve made, but I think those are different enough). I boiled and boiled and boiled and boiled my marmalade. Once it finally hit the magical 220° that indicates the jelling temperature has been reached, I did a hallelujah dance and bottled up the marmalade for processing. After all those men’s brains, I was pretty pooped and looking forward to finishing up the jars.
This marmalade is also gorgeous and tasty. I wish I had more half pints to show for my labor, but I’m pleased with the results all the same.