Citrus fruits are taken for granted these days, but centuries ago they were a special rare commodity. From the ancient citron to modern navel oranges , we can’t or don’t want to live without them.
I’ve just converted a bag of navel oranges into a sublime sweet orange jelly with particles of zest floating within it. It’s delicious, but not the true marmalade we’ve come to know, so I began exploring and uncovered these beautiful posts on marmalade.
Marmalade: A Very British Obsession
by Olivia Pots
I loved every minute and every word of this post. It’s a long read 15 minutes or so but worth every second if you love a bit of history. Olivia Potts is a food writer and chef. After a career as a criminal barrister, she retrained in patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu.
“The dark wood-panelled dining room is quiet, heavy with concentration. Around the room, six pairs of judges sit at tables crowded with glass jars. As the light catches the jars they glow amber, saffron, primrose. The only real sounds are the murmurs as the pairs of judges consult, and the regular pop! of sterilized jars as they open. Occasionally, there is the tap of a pen against glass, signifying that a gold medal has been awarded, followed by quiet applause or cheers depending on how sugar-drunk the judges are.
This is the judging room of the World’s Original Marmalade Awards, an annual event in Penrith, England, in the English Lake District. I’m here because I’m obsessed with marmalade. Not with making or eating it — although I enjoy both — but the enigma it represents. I suppose I’m obsessed with those obsessed with it: what is the appeal? Marmalade is made from a sour, bitter fruit that doesn’t grow in the UK; a fruit that requires days of preparation to render remotely edible. And yet, marmalade holds a central role in British life and British culture. It appears in the diaries of Samuel Pepys; James Bond and Paddington Bear eat it. Officers that served in British wars received jars of marmalade to remind them of their home country. Captain Scott took jars to the Antarctic with him, and Edmund Hillary took one up Everest. Marmalade is part of our national myth. I want to know why.”
Read the rest of the longreads post by Olivia Pots.
by M at Red Plate Chronicles
I love the way she makes this marmalade, it’s not as sweet and the preparation is beautifully done.
Her instruction is very detailed and clear leaving no room for error. This is the method I’ll try next.
Her panna cotta with rose or chocolate look amazing also. Her site is a visual feast, vegetarian and allergy sensitive. Her recipes are from all over the world but primarily regional Indian cuisines.
I especially love the way she chopped up the rind, I wasn’t a fan of long bits of peel not wanting to stay on my toast.
Orange Marmalade Step by Step.
To make Orange marmalade, the flesh is cooked along with sugar and the rind that add to the flavour & texture of the preserve. Making Orange marmalade is quite tricky. It is not as easy as just adding the fruit in sugar syrup and cooking because unlike jams made of fruits such as strawberries or guavas, there is an element of bitterness that gets added while using the orange peel.
The sour oranges are still green here on the farm. They are originally regrowth from old rootstock from orchards planted in this area. The sweet orange trees are long gone, but the stubborn roots grew new shoots and bear lumpy rind fruits, much like seville oranges. I’m not sure how far back the rootstock goes, but citrus genetics is fascinating.
Genomics of the origin and evolution of Citrus
The genus Citrus, comprising some of the most widely cultivated fruit crops worldwide, includes an uncertain number of species. Here we describe ten natural citrus species, using genomic, phylogenetic and biogeographic analyses of 60 accessions representing diverse citrus germ plasms, and propose that citrus diversified during the late Miocene epoch through a rapid southeast Asian radiation that correlates with a marked weakening of the monsoons. A second radiation enabled by migration across the Wallace line gave rise to the Australian limes in the early Pliocene epoch. Further identification and analyses of hybrids and admixed genomes provides insights into the genealogy of major commercial cultivars of citrus. Among mandarins and sweet orange, we find an extensive network of relatedness that illuminates the domestication of these groups.
Most comprehensive study to date reveals evolutionary history of citrus
Citrus fruits—delectable oranges, lemons, limes, kumquats and grapefruits—are among the most important commercially cultivated fruit trees in the world, yet little is known of the origin of the citrus species and the history of its domestication. READ THE ARTICLE
This little jar of jam is opening up a whole new field of study!
Back to basic citrus deliciousness, and my go to recipe guru, Alton Brown.
1 3/4 pounds oranges, 4 to 5 medium
1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
6 cups water
3 pounds plus 12 ounces sugar
10 (8-ounce) canning jars with rings and lids, funnel, tongs, ladle, and 12-quart pot
- Wash the oranges and lemon thoroughly. Cut the oranges into 1/8-inch slices using a mandoline, removing the seeds as you go. Stack the orange slices and cut them into quarters. Place the oranges into an 8-quart stainless steel pot. Add the lemon zest and juice and the water to the pot, set over high heat and bring to a boil, approximately 10 minutes. Once boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 40 minutes or until the fruit is very soft.
- While the fruit is cooking, fill a large pot (at least 12-quart) 3/4 full with water, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Place 10 (8-ounce) jars and rings, canning funnel, ladle, and tongs into the boiling water and make sure the water covers the jars by at least an inch. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the lids and leave everything in the pot until the marmalade is ready.
- Meanwhile, place a small plate in the freezer. Increase the heat under the orange mixture to return to full boil. Add the sugar and stir the mixture continually, until it reaches 222 to 223 degrees F on a deep-fry or candy thermometer, and darkens in color, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. You may need to adjust the heat in order to prevent boil over. Test the readiness of the marmalade by placing a teaspoon of the mixture onto the chilled plate and allowing it to sit for 30 seconds. Tilt the plate. The mixture should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If mixture is thin and runs easily, it is not ready.
- Remove jars from the water and drain on a clean towel. Place a canning funnel onto the top of 1 of the jars and ladle in the marmalade just to below the bottom of the threads of the jar. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used. The amount of marmalade may vary by 1 to 2 jars. Wipe the rims and threads of the jars with a moist paper towel and top each with a lid. Place a ring on each jar and tighten.
- Return the jars to the pot with boiling water, being certain that they don’t touch the bottom of the pot or each other. (If you don’t have a jar rack, try a round cake rack, or metal mesh basket. Even a folded kitchen towel on the pot bottom will do in a pinch.) Add additional water if necessary to cover the jars by at least an inch. Boil for 10 minutes. Using canning tongs, carefully remove the jars from the water, place in a cool dry place and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours before opening. Once open, store in the refrigerator. Unopened marmalade will last for up to 6 months.