This year, I went on a bit of a canning craze. I’d actually never canned in my life before this year, but was “forced” into it by the bounty of fruit we received from our CSA. We’ve done a CSA for years, but stopped doing it for the last couple years after the Pike Place Market stopped offering theirs. We settled into a weekly routine of heading to the U-District market for our produce instead, which we were quite content with.
One of our favorite stands at the market is Tiny’s, since I love stone fruits and they are among the best and offer theirs for the longest season. They have an amazing variety of plums, peaches, and cherries, along with melons, apples, and more. So when I found out that they offer a CSA, I thought maybe we’d finally found a good replacement for the Pike Place CSA – local, good quality produce, and best of all, a much higher proportion of fruits than most CSAs. I love snacking on fruit, and that was my one wish for the Pike Place CSA: more fruit.
Be careful what you ask for. Every week, Tiny’s supplied us with the juiciest, most delicious fruit, at least several pounds per week. And soon we had fruit coming out our ears, it seemed, and I was getting a little tired of plums, so I needed to start getting more creative. Through the summer, we ate fruit sliced on our grilled fish and meat. I made plum financiers, and peach crisps (not to mention enough zucchini bread to feed an army!). But it wasn’t enough to keep up.
So I finally pulled out my jam book, Mes Confitures. I was determined not to let the fruit go to waste, and preserves seemed just the thing. And this book has some creative and tasty jam recipes. This season, I made strawberry jam with mint and cracked black pepper, plum and rhubarb jam, peach jam with lemon verbena, pluot jam, and plum and apple jam with anise and vanilla bean. I shared the jars with our neighbors and started collecting them to give as gifts for Christmas.
But when I started packaging the gifts, I realized that there was one kind missing: orange marmalade. My dad’s favorite spread is this, and he even likes to ask for a jar sometimes for Christmas. I’ve given him jars in the past, but never my own, even though I’ve had a marmalade recipe filed away that I’d clipped out of the newspaper years ago. I was always a little nervous about making it because I’d never canned before and thought giving my family spoiled jam might not be the best Christmas gift.
Now that I’d learned how to preserve jams though, the recipe no longer looked very hard at all. Four simple ingredients: oranges, sugar, water, and a touch of lemon. It turned out to be as easy as the author, Greg Atkinson, says. And it tastes better than any marmalade I’ve purchased. I hope my dad enjoys his marmalade this year!
Here is Greg Atkinson’s recipe. Check out the original newspaper article for his other recipes for maple and honey granola and ginger biscotti.
Satsuma Mandarin Orange Marmalade
by Greg Atkinson
Makes six half-pints
9 medium-sized mandarin oranges
2 cups water
¼ cup lemon juice
4 cups sugar
Peel the oranges and set the fruit and peel aside separately. Slice enough of the skins into fine julienne strips to measure 2 cups. In a large kettle over high heat, boil the sliced orange peel in water for 5 minutes. (If you want to make a marmalade that’s less bitter, pour the water in which the peels were boiled into a measuring cup and replace it with the same amount of fresh water.)
Meanwhile, sterilize six half-pint jars in boiling water, and allow them to simmer on low heat, undisturbed while you make the marmalade.
With the metal blade in the work bowl of a food processor, puree the fruit of the oranges and the lemon juice, then add this pulp and juice mixture to the mixture of orange peel and water. When the whole mixture reaches a lively boil, add the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes, or until the marmalade has thickened slightly and a candy thermometer registers 220 degrees.
Transfer the marmalade to jars and seal with clean, new, two-part lids. Return the filled jars to the hot water bath where they were sterilized and let the jars simmer for 5 minutes. Allow the marmalade to stand undisturbed for several hours or overnight. Sealed jars will keep in a cool, dark place for a year; any jars that do not seal may be kept in the refrigerator.
Note: If you want to make more than just a few jars, make two or three batches in a row. If you try to double the recipe, it will not work as well.