We are in the midst of blood orange season and if you’re not running out and buying all the blood oranges you can find right now I am judging you intensely. Seriously.
In the last week, I’ve visited every supermarket near me and bought bags of the stuff just to find the reddest and sweetest blood oranges I could get my hands on. I can’t explain why, but I absoluteley love the excitement of unwittingly cutting into a blood orange to find I’ve got a super red one! I have a problem, I know. Maybe it’s from my childhood obsession with Pokémon cards and the excitement of opening a new pack to see if you got a rare shiny one. Don’t look at me like that, I know I’m not the only one who was desperately seeking shiny Charizards here!
Anyways, I just love blood oranges and I usually try to make the most of them when they are in season, so this year I decided I’d make some preserves.
A few weeks ago, Issy and I had a delicious brunch at Dishoom in Shoreditch, London, which included a side of ‘Fire Toast’. This basically just grilled bread served with pineapple & pink peppercorn jam and a punchy star anise flavoured orange marmalade, but my gosh were those preserves delicious! Ever since I’ve rediscovered my love for marmalade and can’t stop eating the stuff! Hence, blood orange marmalade.
Sweet, yet tangy with the slightly bitter peel. Perfect on buttered toast! Nom!
With the peels, I scraped out the leftover flesh and excess pith, gathering this into a muslin cloth and tying into a bag with some string. This is where citrus fruits are rich in pectin, so will help with setting your marmalade.
I then cut all the peels into strips. I like quite thick peels in my marmalade, but you can cut yours to whatever thickness you fancy! (This took a while, I suggest putting some music on whilst you do!)
Once the peels had been stripped, I placed them into a large heavy bottomed pan, along with the juice, muslin bag and 1 litre of water. At this stage you can leave this overnight to soak to help extract as much pectin from the peels/pips for a quicker set, but I didn’t want to wait that long!
I then added the lemon juice and preserving sugar. This is ideal for making marmalades as it doesn’t have added pectin, and the larger crystals make it slow to dissolve. It also doesn’t produce as much froth on top giving a clearer marmalade.
Once the sugar had dissolved, I brought this to a rapid rolling boil and cooked for about 15 minutes till setting point was reached. If using a thermometer, this is when you reach about 104°C. Otherwise, to the test the setting point drop a small amount on a cold plate. After a few minutes a skin should form on the top, and the marmalade should wrinkle as you run a finger through it.
Once ready, I removed it from the heat and allowed to cool/thicken slightly for about 15 minutes. This was to ensure the peel doesn’t just float to the top. I then poured the marmalade into sterilised jars (soaked in boiling water and left in a warm oven till ready to use) to as full as possible, then sealed immediately whilst hot.
- 500-600g (approx. 4) blood oranges, plus extra 2 for a redder marmalade
- 100ml lemon juice
- 1kg preserving sugar
- Scrub 4 of the blood oranges with warm soapy water to wash away any wax residue on the fruits.
- Cut the oranges in half and juice. Strain through a sieve into a bowl.
- Scrape out the leftover flesh and excess pith from the peels and place in a muslin cloth, along with the bits strained from the juice. Tie the muslin with some string.
- Slice all the peels to your preferred thickness.
- Add the juice, peel, muslin bag, and 1 litre of water to a large heavy bottomed saucepan.
- Bring the mixture to the boil, cover, then leave to simmer for 2 hours until the peel has softened completely (it should break apart between your fingers – careful, it’s hot!). The liquid will have reduced to about a ⅓ of the volume.
- Remove from the heat.
- Once cool enough to handle, remove the muslin bag making sure to squeeze out as much liquid as possible as this will contain a lot of pectin and will help the marmalade set.
- Add the lemon juice, the juice of the two extra blood oranges (optional), and the preserving sugar to the pan.
- Bring to the boil till the sugar dissolves.
- Continue to cook on a rapid rolling boil, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes till you reach the setting point (about 104°C). The time will vary but you can test when its ready by dropping a small amount on a cold plate and checking to see if it forms a skin after a minute of two.
- Once ready, remove from the heat and skim off any scum/froth from the top. Leave to cool slightly for about 15 minutes so the peel settles (pouring immediately will make the peel float to the top).
- Pour into sterilised jars till as full as possible and seal immediately.