In my constant pursuit of trying to learn how to make things from scratch, I am usually willing to try anything once. There are even times when, although I've made a horrific mess, I'll even try a second and third time. Such is the case with orange marmalade. My husband loves orange marmalade and over the course of our almost-30-year marriage, I have attempted to make this concoction for him. It seems as though, even with the ability to make jelly that might win blue ribbons, my marmalade leaves much to be desired.
The first time I tried marmalade was not too long after we were married, when my husband made the usually fatal mistake of saying, "I wish you could cook like my mother – she makes the best orange marmalade." After successfully quashing any latent thoughts of severe pain for that statement, I swallowed my pride and called my mother-in-law to ask for guidance. "Nothing to it," she said, and gave me instructions. However, whatever I did wrong turned those lovely oranges into orange bricks. Trash can it was.
Fast forward several years and we were living in Florida to pastor a church. In our backyard were gorgeous orange trees with free fruit. I grew up with Great Depression-era parents, so letting anything like that go to waste was unthinkable. I squared my shoulders and decided to again make a foray into the world of marmalade. I followed a recipe in one of my cookbooks to the letter – or so I thought. My second attempt turned out to be more like orange mud – and the pile went to the trash again.
What may well be my last attempt was this past weekend. My husband bought oranges at Christmas from a coworker whose child was selling them. We had eaten as many as we could stand, and given away more. There were just a few left and my husband looked at me hopefully and said, "Those would make delicious marmalade." Despite the knowledge of my past two less-than-stellar results, I gamely agreed to give it a shot. I scoured the Internet for a "no fail" recipe. I again followed the directions step by step, put everything together, and even found cute little jars at a thrift store into which I ladled my marmalade, ever hopeful that this, THIS was my time to shine.
After a night filled with the wonderful sound of jars sealing, I eagerly entered the kitchen the next morning, hoping to see gorgeous marmalade ready to eat. What I found was jar after jar of orange – syrup. Yep – every jar was liquid – not a solid jar in the batch. I think we'll be having pancakes with orange syrup this week – and the next – and the next.
While I'm not sure I'll ever try to make orange marmalade again, my latest less-than-perfect project won't stop me from trying the next thing. I will admit, however, that it probably won't have the words "orange," "marmalade" or "jelly" in the title!
'Til next time,
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