I admit it. When I see the first shipment of blood oranges piled high in the produce section at my local co-op, I go a little crazy. I can’t resist the rosy hue of the thin skin, the way these little gems fit perfectly into the palm of my hand, and of course, the tart-sweet, ruby-red flesh that stains the wood of my cutting board when I slice one open. So I load nearly a dozen into my cart and wonder if I have enough. Last year I ate them all, with a little help from my 10-year-old, who loves them too. I had gone back for more, with plans to make the best, most beautiful marmalade, but by then they were gone. So this plan has been simmering ever since.
Sunday morning I hauled the huge canner, various canning tools, jelly jars and lids up from the basement, with plans to make a day of it. It is an ordeal, and in my small 1920s-era kitchen, things get a little claustrophobic, but it is so worth it. In fact, once you’ve made your own, it’s really hard to go back to store-bought jams. Which is why I’m making Blood Orange Marmalade, Spiced Blueberry Jam, and Cran-Raspberry Jam in the middle of winter. I think of it as a way to enjoy a little summer sunshine during the dreary days of January.
If you’ve never made your own jam, I highly recommend trying it at least once. Raspberry jam (see recipe below) is a great place to start. The berries are loaded with natural pectin, so it’s simply a matter of adding sugar, simmering, and spooning into jars. We go through it so quickly that I make small batches and just store the jars in the fridge. For the blueberry jam and orange marmalade I do add Pomona’s Universal Pectin. I’ve found that the blueberry jam will not gel without it. The orange marmalade is a different story. There’s plenty of pectin in the peels, but you need to allow time to let the peels steep overnight. One of these days I’ll try that. Until then, though, these are the recipes that have yielded great results for me. Enjoy!
Blood Orange Marmalade
I love this! It’s tart, with just the right amount of sweetness. Best of all, it’s the color of the most amazing summer sunset, complete with tiny flecks of red.
6 blood oranges
2 navel oranges
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tsp calcium water (see directions in Pomona’s Pectin)
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 1/2 tsp Pomona’s Universal Pectin
Use a vegetable peel to zest two blood oranges and two navel oranges. Do your best to remove all of the white pith from the back of the peel. Chop zest into thin strips, 1/2 inch long. Slice the peel from all of the fruits and remove all seeds. Remove the membrane from each grapefruit section. Slice citrus and place in a heavy saucepan. Add zest, lemon juice, and calcium water. In a medium mixing bowl, combine sugar with pectin powder. Bring fruit to boil, then add sugar, stirring thoroughly with a wire whisk for 1-2 minutes. Bring to boil and remove from heat. Spoon into clean, sterilized jars and process in a canner for 10 minutes. Store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and eat within one month.
Basic Raspberry Jam
I was spoiled this summer by a constant supply of raspberries from my community garden plot. I used some in smoothies, made a few crisps and pies, but by far my favorite way to savor these beauties in a quick and easy jam. Here’s my favorite recipe, from Food to Live By.
8 cups fresh raspberries
4 cups sugar
In a heavy saucepan, combine raspberries and sugar and warm to a simmer over medium-high heat. Adjust burner to low and cook for 45 minutes, or until the jam has thickened. Keep in mind that it will thicken more as it cools. Spoon into clean jars and process or refrigerate.
I’m a huge fan of homemade cranberry sauce, so after making three batches between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I decided to improvise a jam to spread on toast or crunchy, buttered French bread. Here’s what I came up with.
1 16 oz bag fresh cranberries
1 cup raspberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Add all ingredients to a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes. Spoon into clean jars and add lids. Process for 10 minutes or refrigerate and enjoy within 1 month.
Spiced Blueberry Jam
For the past five summers, we’ve spent a week at a family friend’s cabin in the Canadian wilderness, right smack dab in the middle of blueberry heaven. This is the perfect way to enjoy the sweet berries all year long. This weekend I used frozen berries, as I didn’t get around to making jam in the late August heat.
4 cups fresh blueberries, mashed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp. apple pie spice
2 tsp. Calcium water (see directions in Pomona’s Pectin)
1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar
3 tsp. Pomona’s Universal Pectin
In a heavy saucepan, combine berries, lemon juice, apple pie spice, and calcium water. Mash berries and heat to boil. In the meantime, combine sugar and powdered pectin in a mixing bowl. When fruit mixture comes to a boil, add sugar, mixing vigorously with a whisk for 1-2 minutes to dissolve pectin. Return to boil before removing from heat. Spoon into clean jars, seal and process for 10 minutes or refrigerate for up to 1 month.