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Marmalade Moment

Connie Mooremarmalades on cupboard

While most gardeners are busy with green beans, tomatoes and corn about now, there are some preservers who go for a whole different class of canning. Jelly, jam and preserves are some of most beautiful products to come out of a water bath canner.

Jelly is made with the juice of fruit, sugar and sometimes packaged pectin. Jam is that fruit chopped up, mixed and cooked with a good amount of sugar. Preserves are fruits cooked with sugar in the whole, retaining the shape of the fruit. Preserve syrup is clear and can be of soft or sturdy consistency.

Marmalade is a soft jellied spread containing small pieces of the fruit and sometimes peel. Marmalades almost always contain citrus fruits. The white rind of these fruits contains a lot of pectin which is needed for all categories of fruit spreads. We usually remove the white rind or pith from oranges and grapefruits because of the bitter taste, but in marmalade it blends in with the sweet-tart of the sugar and fruit to form a most tasty topping for toast, bagels, scones and biscuits.

Marmalades go back as far as Roman times. Honey and quinces were cooked until set when cool. One of the earliest written recipes is that of Eliza Cholmondeley, England, 1677. It was for oranges. Scotland is credited with serving marmalades for breakfast. England followed suit in the 1800s. Much mention is made of marmalade in British literature.

Today the word marmalade can mean a singular flavor such as quince or citrus. Others use the term to mean any jam or jelly. Probably the most famous marmalade is Dundee Marmalade. A small sweet shop establishment in the Seagate section of Dundee, Scotland, operated by a couple by the name of Keiller was known for the spread. Later, they opened a factory to produce the thick, chunky, Seville orange marmalade.

Maybe the most famous literature reference is that of Paddington Bear who loved with a great passion the marmalade sandwich.

It is not difficult to make marmalade, although it does take time and vigilance. Cooking is rather quick once the sugar is added. Then at a high temperature it is boiled to the jelling point. Therefore, small batches are recommended.

If you love jams, jellies, preserves, why not try your hand at marmalades? Some day soon when the snow is flying and cold air keeps you going back for a cup of coffee, you can spread some on your favorite bread, perhaps a bit of creamy butter too, add another slice of bread and think of Paddington Bear in his little floppy hat and blue raincoat. A true marmalade moment.

marmalade on bread

The following recipes have been adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Home Canning and Freezing. Please, always follow the latest canning and freezing guidelines for food safety.

Peach & Orange Marmalade

2 quarts chopped, peeled, ripe peaches

(about 10 large peaches)

2 medium seedless navel oranges

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4-1/2 cups granulated sugar

Wash the oranges and drain. Chop the peel until you have 3/4 cup or there about. Chop the pulp until you have one and one-half cups or there about. Place all ingredients in a non-reactive pan or jelly kettle. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cook rapidly then until thick. This will take about 20 minutes depending on how juicy the peaches are. Stir often to prevent sticking or scorching. When thick, ladle into hot jelly or half-pint jars. Leave 1/4-inch head space at top of jar. Wipe the top of the jar to remove any drips. Adjust two piece lid and rings to cap jars. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath with water an inch above the tops of the jars. This makes about 8 half pints. When water bath time is up, carefully use jar lifter to remove hot jars. Place on a heat-resistant surface or on a bath towel placed on counter. Cover with a lightweight cloth to prevent drafts from hitting jars. Cool completely. Jars are sealed if the lid is concave (sunk down in middle). Rings can be gently removed. Jars wiped clean and stored in cool dry place. If jar is not sealed, place in refrigerator and use first. Don’t worry if you hear a pop somewhere in the cooling process. It is just the lids sealing down.

Sweet Cherry Marmalade

1 large seedless orange

3-1/4 cups granulated sugar

4 cups washed and pitted sweet cherries

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Wash the orange and drain. Chop the entire orange into small pieces, including peel and white pith. Place in a non-reactive jelly kettle with just enough water to cover it. Cook, boiling until soft.

Add cherries, sugar and lemon juice. Bring back to a boil, stirring until all sugar is dissolved. Cook, boiling until it starts to jelly or thicken. This may take about to 30 minutes, depending on moisture content of cherries. Pour hot thickened marmalade into hot half-pint or jelly jars. Remember to leave about 1/4-inch head space. Wipe rim, seal with hot lids and rings. Place jars into boiling water bath and process for 15 minutes. Carefully remove jars. Set away from drafts. Check for seal-lid should be concave or sunk in the middle. If not, refrigerate and use first. Store sealed jars in cool, dry place. Makes about 4 half-pints.