Well, it’s been six months since my last Ferbering, the bitch-slap that Fate likes to hand me now and then for daring to question the Queen of Confitures. I suppose it was about time, and I know it is all just payback for claiming that her jams are too sweet (philistine) or, even worse, not safe for canning (Mon Dieu!), but publishing a marmalade recipe with no added water just to get back at me? De trop, Madame. De trop.
Remember me looking for cranberry recipes? Well, I was specifically hoping for a cranberry marmalade: Marisa has one, but I was looking for something more about the citrus, with just an accent of cranberry; Madeline Bullwinkle has one in Gourmet Preserves, but it is a ‘quick’ version, full of all sorts of finicky finagling with the fruit to make up for the time you didn’t spend letting it sit, unattended, in a bowl in the fridge. If I had been paying better attention, I would have noticed that nearly all traditional marmalade recipes include water and lots of it. But, instead, knowing that I prefer the texture of a marmalade that has had a chance to sit and ponder the meaning of life, safely ensconced in the fridge for a few days, I opened up Mes Confitures and turned to the first marmalade recipe I saw: Clementine Marmalade (which in Googling around to find you the recipe, I realize that Julia has made. Hers turned out perfectly, natch, so I can’t even blame it on the recipe. But I will. Oh, I will.)
Long story short? Because I find Ferber jams way (way) too sweet, I always cut the sugar down, which means I always have a higher fruit:syrup ratio and need to try to add back in some liquid, and often some pectin, to adjust. While I did add an extra cup of orange juice, and used liquid apple pectin, I should have added water (or more juice, or wine, or something) when I saw the syrup disappearing rather than, say, gelling. But I just added a bit more sugar, and a bit more pectin, to try to get to 220 degrees F and the gel stage. So, at the end of the day, I have six jars of candied orange peel with cranberries: crammed into jars and water-bath preserved. Candy in a jar! (Say it with enough enthusiam and I can almost pretend that I meant to do that.)
Basic marmalade procedure adapted from Clementine Marmalade in Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber
- 2 lbs organic oranges (about 4 medium), well scrubbed (I used navel oranges)
- 2 cups water (optional, but recommended)
- 1 cup orange juice
- juice of 2 small lemons (a generous 1/3 cup)
- 1 and 1/2 lbs (3 cups) raw sugar (organic turbinado)
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 lb (2 heaping cups) organic cranberries, picked through, rinsed and sliced in half (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup apple pectin stock
- Day 1. Slice the blossom and stem ends off of each orange and discard. Slice the oranges in thin rounds, slice rounds in half, then slice each half into sections (I get about 8 pieces per half, but I like my pieces of peel fairly small). Reserve any seeds. Transfer sliced orange and any juices to a large stockpot or Dutch oven.
- Add water, orange and lemon juices, sugar and salt to the orange slices. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Stir in cranberry halves, then transfer mixture to a heat-safe bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
- Day 2. Tip the fruit mixture into your preserving pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occassionally. Remove from heat, return to the bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
- Day 3. Prepare canner, jars & lids.
- Tip fruit mixture into preserving pan. Add apple pectin and bring to a boil over medium-high to high heat. Boil vigorously, stirring only to ensure that the marmalade is not sticking/burning, until you’ve reached the gel stage: 220 degrees F on an accurate thermometer, or a small dollop placed on a frozen plate wrinkles when you push it after 1 minute of freezer storage. Ladle hot marmalade into hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch headspace. Push marmalade down well with the handle of a wooden spoon or chopstick to remove any air bubbles; wipe lids, affix rims, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Yields about 5 cups.
- As usual when I use the Ferber method, I had too much fruit and not enough syrup, therefore the marmalade was very low on spreadable jelly and very high in packed fruit pieces (i.e., candy-in-a-jar!). Additional sugar would help this problem; adding water, more juice, or other liquid may also help. Frozen OJ concentrate might be a good option.
- A sweetish white wine, like a Riseling or fruity white Burgundy, would make a nice addition and would help with the problem of not enough syrup.
- Although I was going for a subtle cranberry pop, rather than a fruit-forward cranberry flavor, the cranberries are a little lost in the dense orange peel candy. If I tried this again, I would increase to 1 lb cranberries.
Canned, in a cool dark spot, for up to 1 year. Refrigerated for up to 1 month.