Updated: Apr 22, 2021
Seasonal cooking is central to what we do in the MAKE Projects kitchen. Taking advantage of the freshest produce possible makes all the difference in cooking and you can taste the difference. On top of this, we are always looking for ways to blend our participants’ familiar flavors into what we are cooking. Seasonally driven cooking is incredibly fun and rewarding but it also comes with its challenges. In most places, it’s a constant war between times of abundance and times of scarcity (although the year-round sunshine here in So Cal helps mitigate this!). Here in San Diego, I am finding so much abundance of produce to be the real challenge! What do you do when your orange and lemon trees are in full swing and suddenly your house is full of fruit slowly rotting away? This is where preservation techniques come in handy and you can keep those flavors for use year-round. From marmalades to pickles to sauces, there are lots of ways to tackle this problem head-on! As I’ve been finding our kitchen being attacked with buckets of local citrus these last few weeks I wanted to provide a refresher on basic marmalade making that I turn to often. Additionally, the flavors of our amazing local citrus pair so beautifully with the many herbs and flowers grown in our FarmWorks garden that it's a no-brainer for me on what to do when that next haul of oranges comes in. Marmalades are about 2 things, your sugar ratio and temperature. My basic ratio for orange marmalades is 1:1:1. That’s one part sugar, 1 part water, and 1 part fruit, by weight. When doing a lemon or lime marmalade the sugar changes to closer to 2:1:1 to adjust for the increased tartness. This ratio is important not only for flavor but also to ensure the proper thickening of the marmalade. The second part of this is temperature. After a lot of practice, you can make marmalade by sight, but I suggest investing about $20 in a decent digital thermometer. Marmalade is ready when it hits 218-220 F (the higher the temp, the thicker it will set). Be careful not to go past this temp or your rind will start to candy and become tough! If you do a quick internet search you’ll see hundreds of different ways to make marmalade but I love all things as simple as possible. I tend to spend less time removing pith than some as I like that bitterness to offset all that sweetness. Play around with it and find what works for you!
Basic Orange Marmalade 1 lb Oranges – Navel or Valencia, seeds removed 1 lb Sugar 1 lb Water 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice Pinch Salt
Wash the oranges thoroughly and chop into small pieces, leaving the rind on and removing any seeds
Place the oranges in a large pot with the water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the oranges are extremely soft and pierce easily with a knife, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add a little water to keep them covered while cooking if too much evaporates
Once the oranges are completely soft add all of the remaining ingredients.
Return to a boil and cook at a strong simmer. Keep an eye on the marmalade and continue to cook until the bubbles tighten and the mixture begins to thicken slightly. You’ll notice the bubbles changing their appearance as it cooks down and eventually you may be able to know when it's ready by sight. Give an occasional stir to make sure it's not sticking on the bottom.
Using a digital thermometer, check the temperature of the marmalade. Cook until the mixture is thick and the temp reads 218-220 F. Again, the higher the temp in this range, the thicker your marmalade will be but don’t go above this or your rinds will turn tough.
Once the desired temperature is reached, carefully set aside to cool or you can process for canning at this point if you like. This marmalade can be refrigerated for several weeks or frozen for a few months which we often do in our kitchen when we make a large batch and just pull it out to thaw as needed.