...you take the weekend off and make blood orange marmalade
‘Tis the season for blood oranges, and for me that only means one thing: blood orange marmalade. I’ve been making blood orange marmalade for the past 3 years and using it in so many different ways. The obvious use is to simply put it on buttered toast. But I also use it as a topping for my favourite porridge bowl or as garnish for the classic lemon tart. Over the years I found that it works well as a substitute for honey in cake recipes. Also, it brings a different flavour to savoury dishes. I sometimes add a teaspoon of blood orange marmalade to the red wine jus that I use to garnish duck dishes. Or when making Vichy carrots I substitute the sugar in the recipe with a small quantity of marmalade. I could call it ‘my secret ingredient’. Well, I guess not so secret anymore now…
The recipe is adapted from Karen Burn’s award winning lemon and lime marmalade recipe. It is quite time consuming, but I believe that it’s worth dedicating a weekend to this project. And not only for the multiple ways in which you can use the marmalade over the year. But for the satisfaction of making your home-made marmalade. And for the almost therapeutical effect of engaging in a fiddly operation like chopping the orange peel. Not to mention the Christmassy orange-y smell that will surround your home for two whole days.
On a practical note, the orange peel preparation is the most fiddly part of this entire project. Karen suggests to juice the oranges first, then scrape out the membranes, quarter the fruit shells and finely chop them. There is a very important step here, and that is removing as much of the white membrane as possible to cut out the bitterness. It is quite a messy operation, but there’s no much to do about it. This year I’ve tried a new method: I cut the top and bottom of the orange and used a teaspoon to remove all the flesh. I put the flesh aside, then went on with removing the white pith and finely chopping. Finally, I used a food processor to chop the flesh and get as much juice out of it. I found it a bit less messy, but I guess you’ll have to try and test various methods until you find the one that works for you.
In terms of quantities, I would suggest to adjust the quantity of sugar depending on how sweet the oranges are. There can be quite significant variations, depending on the blood orange variety that you use.
As a variation, I usually add the slices of a lemon during boiling, just to balance the sweetness a little bit. Also, I sometimes like to experiment with condiments. So just before sealing the jars, I might add half of a vanilla pot to a jar, or some star anise. I did tried to add some green pepper once, but I found the flavour combination a bit confusing. If you feel more adventurous (I know I do), you could also add a spring of rosemary to one of the jars. If you’re not so adventurous, simply add a slice of blood orange on top – it will caramelise beautifully over time.