Yes January, I CAN Jam Citrus Successfully!

Maybe you read my January Can Jam post from earlier this week.  If not, let me summarize: my lemon marmalade was a flop. It was too bitter and upon opening a canned jar, it was cooked a bit too long; the orange peels had candied and the jellied part was thick and hard to get out of the jar.  When presented with failure, I feel compelled to try again.  So today, (Ding! Ding!) round two! 

Look what I found!! 

Blood Oranges

Yay! I finally found the blood oranges I've been looking for!!

I looked everywhere (or so I thought) for blood oranges and then found them in the least likely place:  Tom’s, the little neighborhood grocery three blocks from my house.  But, with a bag of Blood Oranges in tow, I decided it was time for my do-over. 

Since my last attempt was a total flop learning experience, I felt prepared to try again, but I couldn’t find a recipe that called specifically for blood oranges.  My last ingredeint substitution had bad side effects, so I decided that I should try two recipes and see which turned out better.  I usually have good results with the recipes I find at Simply Recipes, so even thought the lemon marmalade didn’t work out, I decided to give it another go with her orange marmalade  recipe.  And, despite the bad results with not removing the pith on my lemons, I chose this marmalade recipe from Alton Brown as well. 

Of course, I’m not one to just blindly follow a recipe, so I made some modifications. 

I started the Alton Brown recipe first.  In the picture above, you can see my oranges sliced and in the pan, ready to go.  To the oranges I added the zest and juice from an organic lemon, and six cups of water.  I brought it to a boil, set up my canning pot, and started prepping the oranges for my other recipe. 

Oranges Simmering

Oranges simmered for an hour.

I juiced my oranges until I had two cups of juice.   This took five Blood Oranges, not 12 Sevilles.  After I finished juicing the oranges, I used a spoon to scrape the pith out of  the peels and julienned the pith-less peels into narrow strips.  I saved all the membranes and seeds in my mushroom “jellying” bag.  I also zested and  juiced one plain-old organic lemon instead of using a regular lemon and a Meyer Lemon as the original recipe calls for.  By the time I finished prepping the oranges for the second batch,  Alton’s oranges were ready to be made into marmalade.    The peels were tender and the juices had cooked down a little.  I turned up the canning pot so that my jars would be hot and the water would be boiling when I was ready for it, brought the orange mixture back to a boil and added  the sugar. (Alton added sugar by weight, not volume, so I converted.  I’m not sure if it had any effect on my finished marmalade, but I don’t have a kitchen scale at present.) 

Fresh Ginger

Grating ginger into the "experimental" batch.

At this point, I decided to tinker with the recipe a little more.  I ladled a cup or so of the boiling concoction out of the big pan and into a little saucepan.  To this I added peeled, grated ginger.  I started with a pretty big chunk, but I would estimate that I added a knob a little under an inch by the time I was finished.  Then, I let both pots boil until they had reached the jellying point. (My thermometer said 222° and when I spooned a little onto a cold plate, it wrinkled.)  

Alton Brown's Orange Marmalade

Finished marmalade from the "Alton Brown" batch.

Once the marmalade was set, I ladled it into my hot jars, screwed the lids on and returned them to the boiling water bath for ten minutes.  The finished jars are so beautiful!  The red marmalade is IMHO, stunning, (and it doesn’t taste half-bad, either!) 

Julienned orange peels and Blood Orange juice

My oranges ready to go.

So, with the first batch out of the pans and off of the stove, I was ready to start cooking the second batch.  This marmalade was a lot more work than the first recipe.  I added the orange juice, lemon juice and zest, and orange peels to the pan.  Then, I added four cups of water and my mushroom bag filled with pectin-making bits.   The recipe says to boil this mixture uncovered for about thirty minutes.  I did this, but there was almost NO water left after twenty minutes, so I added two more cups of water and let it boil for the last ten.

jelly bag cooking

The pectin bag simmering in the jelly mixture.

After thirty minutes, I ended up with what appeared to be a pan full of orange peels in a little juice.  But the recipe says that it takes twice as much fruit as a traditional marmalade and produces a very intensely-flavored jam. 

 I pulled the pectin bag out to cool and poured the juice/peel mixture into my glass, one-quart measuring cup.  After cooking down, I was left with only 3 1/2 cups of cooked oranges.  The original recipe called for 7/8 cup sugar for each cup of orange mixture so I would need about 3 cups of sugar for the second stage of cooking. 

Simmering the orange parts.

Oranges and peels cooked down.

Once the pectin bag had cooled so that I could handle it, I squeezed the pectin out and into my pot of orange juice, added three cups of sugar and brought it all back to a boil.  Just like the last batch however, I ladled some out into a smaller pan and added ginger.

Once the marmalade hit the jellying point, I ladled it into hot jars and processed them in a boiling-water bath for ten minutes.  This recipe yielded just shy of three pints of marmalade. 

Blood Orange Marmalade

The three jars in the front are the finished marmalade from the second batch.

I’m glad I tried both recipes, but after all that work, I’ve decided that Alton Brown’s simpler recipe is actually the tastier of the two.  However, I think that may be due to the fact that it used TWICE as much sugar for the same amount of oranges.  If you prefer a very peel-filled marmalade with a more bitter, less-sweet flavoer, you might prefer the Simply Recipes marmalade, but the next time I make marmalade, I will be using Alton’s recipe as my base.

My Version of Alton Brown’s Marmalade Recipe:

5 Blood Oranges washed, quartered and sliced thinly (I don’t have a mandoline so I used a sharp serrated knife.)
Juice and zest from one well-washed lemon
6 cups water
7 1/2 cups sugar
knob of grated ginger (optional)

Bring to a boil oranges, lemon juice, lemon zest and water in a large, stainless steel pan.  Boil for ten minutes, reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until oranges are tender. 
When the orange peels are tender, return the pot to a boil and add sugar.  If you are adding ginger to your marmalade, add it with the sugar.
Boil until the mixture reaches the jellying point. (222° or when it wrinkles on a chilled plate.)
Ladle into hot jars and process in a boiling-water bath for ten minutes.

Makes 4-5 pints.

My Version of Simply Recipes’ Orange Marmalade:

4-6 Blood Oranges
1 lemon
4 cups water
3-4 cups sugar (7/8 C. per C. of boiled orange juice and peels)
knob of fresh ginger (optional)

Wash all citrus fruits well.  Juice the oranges until you have 2 cups of orange juice.  Once you have enough juice, use a spoon to remove as much white pith from the orange peels as possible.  Julienne the de-pithed orange peels.  Place the membranes and seeds in a jellying bag or four layers of cheesecloth.  Zest and juice the lemon: add the zest and juice to the orange juice.  Add the lemon seeds and membranes to the jelly bag.
Pour orange juice, peel strips, lemon juice and zest into a large, stainless steel pot.  Add the water and pectin bag and bring to a boil.  Boil for thirty minutes, uncovered. (Watch your pot so that you don’t boil it dry; add a little more water if it starts to get too low.)
Remove pot from heat and let cool.  Measure the amount of juice and peels you have remaining and return the mixture to the pan.  When the jelly bag is cool enough to handle, squeeze the pectin out of the bag and into the pan.  Return the mixture to a boil.  Add 7/8 C. of sugar to the pan for each cup of juice/peel.  If you are adding ginger to your marmalade, add it with the sugar.
Boil until the mixture reaches the jellying point. (222° or when it wrinkles on a chilled plate.)
Ladle into hot jars and process in a boiling-water bath for ten minutes.

Citrus one: Angela, two!


Filed under canning, food

6 responses to “Yes January, I CAN Jam Citrus Successfully!

  1. Thanks for testing the recipes for us! I love blood oranges and I think this will be my next attempt (plus we have a tree:) Also good to know that someone else has ‘failed’ at maralade….makes me want to keep trying!

    • aastricker

      I can grow many things here in Michigan, but citrus isn’t on the list; I envy you! Let me know how the next batch goes.

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