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Blood Orange & Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Amaretto

Blood Orange & Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Amaretto 1

Ya know, I have to say, seasonal eating rocks. It’s impossible to get into a food rut when you’re swapping out fruits and vegetables every couple of months. (And if you reach the point where you can’t. look. another squash. in the face. there’s the interwebs, serving up boundless recipe inspiration until the new kids arrive.)

But it’s only been the last few years that I’ve totally changed my mind about January and February. Usually unbearably dreary months for this summer girl, I’ve embraced them with my whole heart, as they usher in citrus season. Bright yellows, greens and oranges: the perfect antidote to brown food overload.

In addition to getting all greedy-grabby with the blood oranges, clementines, cara caras, honeybells and meyer lemons, I’m actually organized enough this year to do some preserving. Salted meyer lemons (of course). Grand Marnier sugared oranges (fabulous in summer cocktails). Zest from anything zestable, frozen (limes are super cheap these days, a quarter apiece).

And marmalade.

I woke up one morning recently and decided I really wanted to … needed to, had to … make marmalade. Blood oranges and Meyer lemons were already in the fridge. And a batch of homemade amaretto (more on that another day, yessirree, more on that) was patiently awaiting its turn in the spotlight.

Fifteen minutes into removing the peels, my kitchen smelled like sunshine, and I had a skip-hop in my step that usually doesn’t appear until late April.

Blood Orange & Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Amaretto 2

Like all in-season produce, fresh winter citrus is just amazing. First, there’s the variety. Then, there’s the scent. So tender and malleable, the skin gives off its perfume even as you’re washing it. Irresistible.

Blood Orange & Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Amaretto 2

Now, the secret to a really great marmalade lies in the zest, and the key is to leave as much of the peel’s white pith behind, as it’s bitter but otherwise flavorless. To that end, meet my new best kitchen-tool-under-$10 friend.

Food in Jars recommended a serrated vegetable peeler to zest the fruits for her citrus marmalade. I looked at my vast (vast!) collection of vegetable peelers — only one of which I actually use — shrugged and added “vegetable peeler with teeth” to my shopping list. I’m not one to doubt Food in Jars.

And, no less than I expected, she was right. The teeth allow the peeler to get a grip in a very shallow layer of the peel, leaving all of the pith behind.

Blood Orange & Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Amaretto 4

Blood Orange & Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Amaretto 5

Supreming citrus, a technique used in this recipe, is the process of removing the peel, pith, seeds and membranes, leaving behind only the tasty pulp and juice.

Here’s a quick tutorial:

  • If you need zest from the fruit, as you do in this recipe, zest the fruit first.
  • Slice off both ends of the fruit, deep enough to expose a circle of pulp.
  • Using a sharp paring knife, start from one sliced end, and, following the curvature of the fruit, cut away a strip of peel and pith down to the other exposed end. Continue removing the remaining peel and pith (it’s super easy after the first somewhat blind cut).
  • With the fruit now naked, it will be easy to see where the segments naturally separate: look for the thin white lines. Use the knife to separate the segments.
  • Cut away any strips of white pith clinging to the interior of the segments. Peel off the loose membranes and remove the seeds.

In this recipe, the seeds and membranes are pouched up in cheesecloth and boiled along with the zest and naked citrus segments, providing all the pectin you’ll need for the marmalade to set up all jelly-like — no separate purchase of powdered fruit pectin required.

Doesn’t nature just rock the party?

Blood Orange & Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Amaretto 6

So what do you do with all of this glorious boozy-citrus goodness? I adore it on fresh scones and cream biscuits. Or, you can get all French-fancy by spreading it on a slice of brioche and topping it with a generous schmear of nutella, a pinch of Fleur de sel and chopped nuts.

Nutella + orange + amaretto = should be a food group all its own. Just sayin’.

Have a fabulous weekend! Eat some oranges. Smile at will.

Karen, xoxo

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Blood Orange & Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Amaretto

adapted from Food in Jars

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 60-70 minutes
Yield: 1 pint

2 pounds total Meyer lemons and blood oranges (I used 2 large lemons and 3 small-medium blood oranges)
4 cups of water, plus extra as needed
2 cups supremed citrus (from the lemons and oranges)
2 cups water (use the zest water and top off)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups demerara sugar
2 tablespoons amaretto

1. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the fruit (try not to include the pith in the zest). Slice the zest pieces julienne, then again into 1/2″ strips. Boil the zest in 4 cups of water and reduce to medium-high to maintain a good simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile. supreme the citrus and remove seeds. (You should have about two cups of citrus.) Discard the outer peel containing the pith, reserving the citrus, seeds and membranes. Bundle the seeds and membranes in a triple layer of cheesecloth, tie off the top, and set aside.

3. The zest ready when the pieces are very soft and uniform in color. Drain and measure the liquid. You’ll need two cups for the next step – top off the liquid with additional water, if necessary.

4. Place two small plates in the freezer.

5. In a large non-reactive pot, add the 2 cups of liquid, supremed citrus and cheesecloth bundle. Turn to high and bring to a boil. Add the sugar and stir well to dissolve. Maintain a good boil as close to the high setting as possible. Stay close; you may need to frequently adjust the heat, reducing slightly to prevent boil-over and then increasing to maintain boil temperature.

6. While the marmalade cooks prepare your heat-safe storage container(s). This recipe makes about 1 pint or 1/2 liter. (The canning jar I used, shown in the pictures, is a half liter.) Wash the jars, the seals and lids with very hot sudsy water, and rinse with very hot water. It wouldn’t hurt to boil the jars. Leave to air dry on paper towels.

7. After 30 minutes, begin checking the temperature of the marmalade. When the temperature reaches 220°F, boil for 3-4 additional minutes, then add the amaretto, stirring well.

8. Take one dish from the freezer and drop some of the marmalade mixture in the center. Let it set for a few seconds, then push one edge with your fingernail. It should be a little wrinkly and more or less hold its pushed-in shape. If it runs right down the plate when tilted, continue the boiling for 5 minutes, then check again with the other plate from the freezer.

9. When the marmalade passes the plate test, turn off the heat, and gently but thoroughly stir the marmalade. This will help to even distribute the zest. Carefully spoon the mixture into your heat-safe jars, leaving 1/2″ headroom. If using canning jars with proper seals and lids, go ahead and place them on, taking care not to over-tighten the lid. Allow to cool until the jar can be handled, then place in the refrigerator.

Note:  I’m crazy conservative about food safety. This recipe has NOT been evaluated for water-bath canning safety — I’m not sure what effect the amaretto would have on the chemistry of the marmalade. I created this recipe specifically for refrigerator storage, not for canning, although I’m using canning jars and canning prep methods.

Interestingly, as the marmalade cooled in the jar, the sealing lid gave out a very loud {POP} and dimpled — a sign of a vacuum seal taking hold. I’ve heard this was a popular method of canning in times of yore; however, I don’t recommend relying on it for food safety and, indeed, my jar is tucked safely in the refrigerator as I type this. Don’t worry if your seal doesn’t do the vacuum thing: it will be okay in the fridge.

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Monday 13th of February 2012

I made some jams this summer, but since I am without a really reliable way to can them, I just put them in fancy WECK jars and passed them out to friends! ... Maybe this year I can find some suitable jars to keep some bits around for the winter time :) You have inspired me some more to work on my jarring! :) What a great idea to "zest anything zestable!" :) I'm totally going to do that now! I'm also going to make different citrus sugars :)


Saturday 11th of February 2012

I love seasonal eating! And I love winter citrus. I'm so impressed you made your own marmalade. I like that you can do it without commercial pectin. I'm going to have to try out your recipe. I have some Meyer lemons, so just have to get some blood oranges. Thanks for the inspiration!