A Time For Giving ... Bitter Orange Marmalade

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Posted by Deeba PAB

It’s the time of the year that I like best. A time for giving, a time for sharing, and a season full of joyous spirit. Now is perfect for baking, cooking & gifting home made food stuff, and is a longstanding Christmas tradition. A tradition which is about giving, and not so much about getting. Baked goods play a huge role in celebrating holidays. Add fudge, praline, jams, jellies, relishes, homemade chocolates and life sparkles with festivity.

This is also the time of the year that the tangerine tree is laden with fruit & calling my name. I have a tradition of making bitter orange marmalade at this time of the year, packaging it in reusable jars that I collect through the year, and gifting them. I have a long list of bitter marmalade lovers who await their annual 'share'!

Most people in India grow these tangerine trees for it's ornamental beauty as the fruit is sour beyond belief. I make this traditional British-style marmalade with a recipe handed down from my mothers' friend. British marmalade is a sweet preserve with a bitter tang made from fruit, sugar, water and, in some commercial brands, a gelling agent. American-style marmalade is sweet, not bitter.

Bitter oranges originated in the northeast of India and neighbouring areas of China and Southeast Asia. During the first centuries of their empire, the Romans took a great interest in the fruit; however, as their domination of Europe ended, so did the cultivation of oranges. By this time, Arabs had established both themselves and the bitter orange in Spain. With the Moors' irrigation technology, the fruit flourished in the once-dry land.

Some believe that the British passion for the fruit – or rather, the fruit transformed to marmalade – began with a happy accident in 1700, after a young Dundee grocer named James Keiller took a risk on a large consignment of oranges that were en route from Seville, on a ship sheltering against a storm in Dundee harbour. The oranges were cheap, but Keiller couldn't sell them: the flesh was far too sour. His shrewd wife, however, used the oranges to make a spreadable preserve. The jars went on sale in Keiller's shop and soon demand became so high, the family had to order a regular shipment of oranges from Seville. By 1797 they had opened Britain's first marmalade factory.

Tangerines are easy fruit to preserve as jam, as the seeds are high in pectin content. This particular recipe has the seeds tied together in a tiny piece of cheesecloth & immersed in the ingredients during the process. I think it adds to the conventional bitter edge to the marmalade.

Tangerines - 1 kg
Sugar – 1.250 kg
Water - 250ml
Sterilize 4-5 jam jars, including lids. Place a sterilized metal spoon in each jar (this ensures that the glass jar will not crack when the hot jam is poured in).
Halve the tangerines and deseed them. Tie the seeds in a small piece of cheesecloth and reserve them.
Snip the peels and pith included into strips with kitchen scissors.
Put the strips, with the pouch of seeds, in a heavy bottom pan on full heat. Boil for 2-3 minutes till the peel is tender, stirring constantly.
Add water and boil for 2-3 minutes. Now add sugar, stirring constantly.
Continue to boil on full heat for a further 10-15 minutes until the mixture thickens & the strips becomes translucent.
Drop a few drops on a cold metal plate to check if the jam is setting properly. After 30 seconds, it should congeal and look jellylike.
Put off the flame, discard the muslin pouch with the seeds and allow the jam top cool slightly, about 10-15 minutes.
Now pour the marmalade into the jars, and seal after 10-15 minutes. (Refrigerate if you like. I do because I make a batch that lasts me 6 months.)

This post was written by Deeba

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Love this Deeba! Beautiful photos and a wonderful recipe perfect not only for the holidays but all year round.

Jamie said...
December 22, 2009 at 12:32:00 PM GMT+1  

What lovely pictures and a beautiful write-up!! Wish I could try some of that bitter marmalade. It looks yum.

Priya said...
December 22, 2009 at 5:35:00 PM GMT+1  

Beautiful pictures Deeba! Marmalade is a favorite of ours and this recipe looks like a must-try.

Bina said...
December 22, 2009 at 5:43:00 PM GMT+1  

Beautiful Marmalade and gorgeous photos! I'll have to give this recipe a try.

December 22, 2009 at 9:54:00 PM GMT+1  

what a fantastic story of marmalades...lovely photographs and a great post!

Jhonny walker said...
December 23, 2009 at 3:48:00 AM GMT+1  

I've never had bitter orange marmalade but I'd sure like to give it a try! Your jars make a lovely gift!

Barbara Bakes said...
December 23, 2009 at 6:31:00 AM GMT+1  

I like the jar you used for the marmalade. This can be a good present this Christmas.

cabin design said...
December 23, 2009 at 10:46:00 AM GMT+1  

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