Preserving the best of the holiday season…
Memories of the holidays for me have always included special foods and treats enjoyed with family and friends. Pumpkin, nut, and spiced breads are delicious, simple to bake and make wonderful gifts! This year in the Seasons Catering kitchen, along with baking up a storm, we are also focusing our attention on fabulous accompaniments to these breads. And, what better way to preserve the incredible flavors and fruits of the season than with homemade jams, marmalades, and curds!
As a Santa Barbara caterer, I am so lucky to work out of an area that offers some of best citrus in the country! During the holiday season, there is no better place to find fresh oranges than in our backyard. One of my favorite ways to feature the flavor of our area is by making sweet and tangy orange marmalade.
Traditionally, orange marmalade is made with Seville oranges. These “bitter oranges” are from the Spanish namesake and are grown primarily in the Mediterranean. Though there are a few orchards here in California producing this variety, I personally love using the Navels oranges from our local farmers instead.
While the process of canning may seem overwhelming, it is really quite simple and once the technique is learned, you can experiment with flavors and textures. What I love about this recipe is that it allows just that. Though it is amazing alone, try adding different spices to each batch; cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, rosemary, even hot peppers all work well with the sweet and tartness of the marmalade.
California Orange Marmalade
- 2 lbs Navel oranges (5 to 6 medium)
- 1 large lemon; zest and juice
- 6 cups water
- 7 cups sugar
- Cut the oranges and lemons in half crosswise, and then slice very thinly into half-moon shapes, discarding seeds along the way.
- Place sliced fruit and juices into a large pot with the 6 cups water; bring to boil, stirring often.
- Reduce to simmer and cook fruit until softened (approx. 45 minutes)
- Return heat to full boil and add sugar, stirring constantly until dissolved.
- Using a candy thermometer, bring marmalade to a temperature of 220 degrees F. This should take approximately 15-20 mins. (If you do not have a candy thermometer, you can test readiness by dripping a spoonful of mixture onto a chilled plate. Mixture should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If mixture is runny, keep cooking; if mixture is hard, add more water).
- Pour the marmalade into clean, hot Mason jars; wipes rims thoroughly with a clean, damp towel, and seal with the lids.
For those of you that have never canned or jarred at home, I find www.freshpreserving.com to be a great go-to website. Not only is the website clear with fun and helpful tips, but their online store offers all you would ever need for your at-home canning.
Of course, marmalade and other “jarred” treats are great gifts for the holidays, but I love the idea of using them year-round as wedding favors for your guests! Canning is truly one of the best ways to celebrate and “preserve” the best of what every season has to offer. For more ideas on holiday food gifts, be sure to check out Seasons Catering cooking classes at www.seasonscateringca.com.
Happy holidays from Seasons Catering!