Citrus is everywhere right now, so this is the perfect time to pick up some blood oranges. Don’t be put off by the name… an orange by any other name is still an orange. Only these glisten red when sliced into, and most varieties are a bit sweeter than regular oranges. They are very succulent and sweet, so they are a great orange for juicing and making preserves.
So what makes the segments red, you ask? Something to do with science… I won’t bore you with the details – that’s what wikipedia is for. There are different varieties of blood oranges, Tarocco being the most popular and what I mostly see in my local farmers markets. These are probably the sweetest of the varieties. I brought 6 pounds home from Buckhorn Canyon Ranch to make some marmalade with my friend Jane. ( If you can find Moro blood oranges, though, the skin is redder and your marmalade will look even fancier.)
Blood oranges are seasonal, so now is a perfect time to make some preserves for year-round consumption. And I’ll say it again and again… it is so rewarding to make your own food and know there are no additives or chemicals – and that’s what it’s all about!
So for the marmalade, you’ll want to start off by scrubbing those blood oranges really well, then halving and juicing them. Don’t drink that delicious juice, though, you’ll want to reserve it for the marmalade. (OK, I poured a little sip for myself… but it was all in the name of research.) Look at how red that juice is! Hello! Oh, and by the way, I love my vintage Juice King juicer that I picked up at some yard sale at some point in my life. It’s awesome – you need to find one.
Scoop out all the flesh, getting rid of the pith, and cut those halves in half. We didn’t want pieces that were too long, so you might even want to cut those pieces in half again width-wise. Julienne those pieces to about 1/8″.
Throw these julienned pieces into a pot, add water to cover, and bring to a rolling boil. Drain, rinse, and repeat three times total. After the third time, place the rinds back in the pot and add the reserved juice and sugar. Because we are using the sweet juice, you don’t need to add as much sugar as some recipes call for. Your house should smell nice and citrusy by now.
Heat on med-high, bringing to a boil. Stir occasionally for about half an hour or so, until the liquid thickens. (I start checking after about 15 minutes.) If you don’t want to just eyeball it, you can stick a candy thermometer in until it reaches approx. 220 degrees. You could also put some jelly on a chilled plate and see if it spreads out (not ready) or holds its shape (ready).
If you are canning, start sterilizing your jars as the marmalade is cooking (if not done already). Allow the filled jars to sit overnight to ensure a good seal. I chose half pint jars so I could give them out to my friends and family.
Consider using blood orange segments in a salad, as a dressing, or in this brisket recipe as well. I think I’m going to make some crostini’s with a layer of goat cheese and a dollop of this blood orange marmalade on top. Yum! Blood oranges will be gone from the markets soon, so enjoy then while you can. (I have an extra jar or two… who wants one?)