The other day I shared a post for my Orange Chocolate Chile Hand Pi’s in honor of Pi Day (3.14). The inspiration for those tasty bundles of ooey goodness was this marmalade and the half-eaten (ok, more than half) bar of chipotle chile dark chocolate.
At the center (no pun intended) of these turnovers was my Orange Chile Marmalade. It was adapted from this recipe for blood orange marmalade, and it has become a method that I love to use. I spoke a little of that love here. I have since made three different flavors of marmalade following the basic formula outlined in the recipe. I have made a kicked-up lemon marmalade that is FAB-U-LOUS!!! I mean, it is “roll your eyes back in your head and curl your toes” kind of good. Then there was an orange mocha marmalade. Uh, I am sure it will be good on ice cream. Toast, not so much. This orange chile marmalade? It has a heat that sneaks up on you. It works both with sweet applications (like the hand pi), and I know it will marry well with savory applications (such as a glaze for chicken, scallops or shrimp).
If you are not a fan of marmalade, I recommend that you try this. In the original recipe, the citrus slices are soaked overnight to reduce the bitterness of the pith. I actually let the citrus soak up to three days. I find that there is not a lot of bitterness this way. Use organically grown oranges, since you are using the peel. If you can’t get organic, make sure that you wash your fruit really well with one of those natural produce cleaner following package directions. But try to get organic.
I use a water bath method to make my preserves pantry-stable. But you can skip this step if you keep them in the refrigerator and plan to share with friends and family. Unless you are a marmalade fiend – then you can keep them all to your happy self. But trust me… make others happy and share!
A few tips:
- Make sure your knife is sharp. This will allow you to cut the citrus into thin slices
- Cut your citrus on a cutting board that you have sat on top of a rimmed cookie sheet. This will keep any juices contained so that they can go into your marmalade and not onto the counter.
- I started putting a folded kitchen towel under the end of the cookie sheet closest to me. I like having a little lift to help the juices pool at the opposite end. However, you don’t want too much lift that may make cutting your fruit treacherous.
- Use the best oranges you can get. I am fortunate to live in an area where backyard citrus is common. There is nothing better than an orange picked at the peak of ripeness! Sweet and juicy!
- Save a few rinds and the seeds from your lemons (placed in reusable cheesecloth bags or fillable, biodegradable tea bags) in the freezer. I will let one or two of these soak with the fruit to add pectin if I find my oranges have a very thin layer of pith.
Orange Chile Marmalade (Makes about 5 half pint jars)
(Adapted from Small Batch Blood Orange Marmalade by Marisa McClellan, Food in Jars)
- 1.5 pounds organic oranges
- 4 ½ cups water
- 3 ¾ cup sugar
- 5 to 6 small dried red chiles, stems removed (I used dried chile de arbol)
Directions – Day One:
- Wash and dry the oranges.
- Cut your fruit in half lengthwise (blossom to stem end – see tips above)
- Cut out the pithy core and remove any seeds. Put the trimmings and seeds into a small bowl as you work. You will be adding these to your fruit during the soak to extract as much of the natural pectin as possible. (The pic below shows the technique – this was meyer lemons that I was cutting)
- Once your oranges have been cored and deseeded, place cut-side down and trim about ¼ inch or so from each to expose the fruit. If needed, check the cut side to see where the fruit begins at each end of the fruit, so you know how much rind and pith to remove. Place the trimmings with your cores and seeds.
- Slice the orange halves first crosswise into very thin slices, then lengthwise, creating quarter slices.
- Place the slices and any juice collected in a bowl or lidded container that holds approximately five cups.
- Place your trimmings, cores and seeds into a square of cheesecloth (and tie) or in one or two fillable tea bags, then place in the bowl or container with the orange slices.
- Pour 4 ½ cups filtered water over the fruit. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or the container with a lid), then place in the refrigerator overnight. You may let the fruit stay in the refrigerator for up to three days before cooking.
Directions – Day Two:
- For safe canning, please read and follow the instructions at the National Center for Home Food Preservation or download the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, 2009 Revision.
- Place a small plate and four or five teaspoons in the freezer to test the marmalade for set.
- Prepare your jars and lids for water bath canning following manufacturer directions or click here or here. Other methods for preparing jars and lids, such as using the oven, are not recommended. If you are not going to use a water bath canner, you must make sure that you sterilize your jars (a dishwasher with a sterilize setting may be used).
- Measure your sugar into a bowl large enough to hold the fruit and water mixture. Take your sliced oranges and water out of the refrigerator, and set aside the cheesecloth bag of seeds, etc. Pour the fruit/water mixture over the sugar and stir to dissolve sugar. Pour this mixture into a large, wide saucepan or into a copper preserving pan, if you have one. Add the dried chiles and the cheesecloth bag of seeds and trimmings. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally until the marmalade reaches 220 degrees on an instant read thermometer and passes the freezer test. Remove the marmalade from the heat while you test it.
- Once the marmalade has reached its set point, turn off the heat, and ladle into prepared jars using a funnel. Put one whole chile into each jar for decoration and additional va-va-voom. Fill jars, leaving ¼ inch head space. Wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth, then place the prepared lids and bands on the jars.
- If you plan to refrigerate all the jars immediately, let them cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge for up to one month. The heat of the marmalade may cause the lids to seal on their own, but they are not considered shelf stable.
- For longer-term storage (up to one year), process in a water bath for 10 minutes, then cool. Refrigerate any jars that do not seal and use within one month.
Now for a brief update on the 100 Day Cooking Challenge. There may have been a bit of confusion, because the first 30 days of the challenge was cooking from the pantry. The remaining 70 days were just cooking. I have been keeping a list of menus but not posting often enough about how it has been going. We are almost two-thirds of the way through the 100 days. To be absolutely truthful, today was a HORRID day. I succumbed to the siren’s call of a frozen pizza for lunch. Well, it had to be cooked! Seriously, I woke up at 1:30 am and never was able to get back to sleep. To say I was exhausted was an understatement. I went to the store to get bread for sandwiches and ended up grabbing the frozen pizza. The way I was feeling, I wanted easy. And unfortunately, there wasn’t really anything else that seemed very easy to me at the time. At least I “redeemed” myself by making bangers and mash, plus sauteed cabbage for dinner. After all, it is St. Patrick’s Day!