I love to put together a basket of goodies for each guest that arrives at our farmhouse that includes a jar of homemade jam. Unfortunately, it is a little early in the season here in Italy for most fruit apart from strawberries, so I decided to use oranges instead. We have gorgeous blood oranges here that I thought would make a stunning marmalade. The lovely red color of the inside flesh of the the oranges really didn’t change the color of the marmalade as much as I had thought it would though, despite that, the flavor was delicious.
It seems traditionally Seville oranges are used to make marmalade and they tend to be more bitter than other varieties so in order to prevent the marmalade from becoming too cloyingly sweet, I add lemons into the mix, as well as just a little Campari at the end. Now this version of marmalade is made like many women of the older generation in Italy make using no pectin. Instead, they simply boil the jams until they thicken naturally. If you prefer, you can cut down the cooking time and add your favorite pectin product. My oranges were seedless, but since the seeds contain their own natural pectin, if your oranges contain seeds, pick them out as you slice your oranges and then gather them in a cheesecloth and tie it closed. You can drop this cheesecloth ball into your marmalade as it cooks so the seeds release their pectin, and then simply discard the seeds once your jam has thickened and is ready to go into jars. I first slice my oranges, then coarsely chop them so the orange pieces are fairly uniform and not too large. If you prefer, you can cut your oranges into thin slices, or into chunkier pieces if you prefer your marmalade that way.
I discovered a new favorite way to enjoy this delicious marmalade for breakfast. I take a slice of crusty country bread, slather it with ricotta cheese (we are lucky to be able to buy sheep’s milk ricotta fresh from the farmer), and then spread the ricotta with a spoonful of marmalade. Delicious! Of course, this marmalade is also wonderful used to fill brioche (croissants) or used in a crostata or tart.
To test if the jam has thickened, place a couple of saucers into the freezer before you start. Put a teaspoon of the hot jam onto the cold saucer and place it back into the freezer. If the jam forms a skin within a minute or two and wrinkles to the touch it is set. If the jam remains runny it needs to be cooked for a longer period. I can my jam by placing it into sterilized jars to prevent the growth of any bacteria. First wash your jars and lids in hot soapy water, rinse well, and then boil them for 10 minutes to sterilize.
The Breakfast of Champions! Crusty Bread, Ricotta Cheese & Homemade Orange Marmalade
I Like To Personalize My Jams & Jellies With My Own Labels
Deborah Mele 2011
- 1.5 Kilos (About 20) Ripe Oranges (See Note Above)
- 3 Lemons
- 600 Grams (1 Pound 5 Ounces) Granulated Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Campari
- Wash and dry the oranges and cut off the stem end, then cut the oranges into thin slices, and cut the slices into fourths.
- Place orange pieces into a heavy saucepan.
- Juice the lemons, adding the juice to the saucepan.
- Take the peels from the lemons and scrape out the white pith and cut the lemon peel into a fine dice.
- Place the peel into the saucepan with the orange pieces.
- Add the sugar to the pot and bring everything to a rapid boil.
- Reduce the heat to a slow bubbling simmer, and continue to cook uncovered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring frequently until the marmalade has thickened.
- Add the Campari and mix well, then fill into hot sterilized jars and store in a dark place until ready to use.