Every Christmas for more than the last decade I have made marmalade as a giveaway. I would make 40-60 twelve ounce jars at a time. It always takes several days to process and cook all of that jam.
When we moved into our current house, I lost my backyard source for the fruit. I now buy the fruit for my giveaways. When our neighbor, Rodger, found this out, he has insisted on giving me some of the fruit from his back yard. Unfortunately, this is usually long after I have made my giveaways.
One of the reasons that people love my Christmas marmalade is that it is so intense. The original recipe from Joy of Cooking was designed to produce the most jam from the least amount of fruit. It called for using only a little fruit, a lot of water and a lot of sugar (a ratio of 1f-4w-5s). In my Christmas batches, I had reduced this to a ratio of 1f-2w-2s.
The original reason for making the marmalade was so that I would not waste the fruit in my own yard. Now Rodger is fruit bombing me. What should I do with all this extra fruit?
I knew I did not want to produce a lot of extra jam and I did not want to spend more days processing it. My solution was to concentrate the recipe even further. I eliminated the water all together and used a ratio of 4f-3s.
Last year Rodger’s crop was a bit off. The fruit had not gotten enough water and the skins were not of a quality that I wanted to use for marmalade. I simply juiced all of the oranges and made orange jelly out of it. This produced my most intense preserve ever.
The skins of Rodger’s oranges this year were much better, but I still did not want to make too much jam. One year, I tried skinning the oranges and shredding just the outer layer of the skin of the oranges. This took a very long time, but produced a finely shredded marmalade.
This year I have a new microplane zester. I decided that I would zest all of the fruit. This would produce a micro marmalade with very fine bits of orange rind.
Jan recently visited Sonoma and bought a bottle of Meyer Lemon Liqueur. She suggested adding some of this to the jam. The original J of C recipe called for a mix of lemons and oranges and this seemed like a good idea.
I then thought, “Why stop there?” The produce market had a bin of really good looking Meyer lemons. If I am going to add the liqueur, I might as well add some fresh lemons and their rinds as well.
Note: This recipe still produces a lot of jam, but it is a preservation technique. I was given a lot of fruit and this is what I produced. This batch will make approximately 16 twelve ounce jars of marmalade. You will have plenty of jam for your own use and to give away to family and friends. Expect to hear, “When are you going to make more?” if you give any away.
Note: For those who wish to make just a few jars of marmalade I will include the proportions for a small batch at the bottom of this post.
Karl’s Ultimate Micro Orange Marmalade with Meyer Lemon
1½ cups fresh Meyer lemon juice (about 10 lemons)
2 Tbs. Meyer lemon zest
13 cups fresh navel orange juice (about 28 oranges)
1 cup orange zest
12 cups sugar
½ cup Meyer Lemon Liqueur
1. Zest and juice the lemons and oranges.
Tip: These are minimalist instructions. If you want more detailed instructions on jam making, please go to my post on Karl’s Christmas Marmalade, where I have covered this topic step by step.
2. Put the fruit in a non-reactive pot and bring the juice premix just to a boil.
3. As soon as the juice premix comes to a full boil, remove it from the heat and cover the pot.
4. Set the pot aside and let it sit for at least 12 hours.
Tip: This heating and rest allows the bitter compounds in the rinds to break down into the complex flavor compounds that you associate with “real” orange and lemon flavors. This resting period is one of the secrets to my jam’s intense, but smooth taste. Twelve hours is a minimum, but I have let the mix meld for as much as two days, with a second heating after 24 hours.
5. Put half of the fruit premix (about 8 cups) into a large pot and bring it to a gentle boil.
Tip: You will have had some lost of the volume to evaporation from the heating of the premix.
6. Add 6 cups of sugar and stir until dissolved.
7. Cook the jam until it starts to jell.
Tip: This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and fifteen minutes. How long it takes depends a lot on how close to a full boil you are cooking the mix. A low boil takes a bit longer, but a high boil must be constantly watched and stirred to prevent boil-over and scorching.
Note: Testing for jelling: 1) Take a teaspoon and scoop out about half a teaspoon of the jam. 2) Let it cool for two minutes and then pour it back into the pot. 3) If the mix pours in a single stream then it has not started to jell. 3) If the mix slides off of the spoon in a wide sheet it has started to jell.
8. Stir in ¼ cup of the liqueur and cook for 5 minutes more.
9. Pour the marmalade into sterilized jars and seal the lids, not quite tight.
Tip: You want the lids tight enough that the water does not leak into the jar, but loose enough that the heated air can escape. This is about an eight of a turn short of completely tight. The easiest way ti di this is to tighten the lid completely and then unscrew the lid an eight of a turn.
10. Put the jars in a hot water bath and boil for ten minutes.’
11. Remove and seal the lid tightly.
12. Repeat steps 5-11 for the rest of the batch.
Note: Some of you, who are good at quick mental math, may be wondering how about 27 cups of ingredients, becomes 15 cups of jam (15 one cup jars). When you are boiling the jam, you lose at least a quarter of the liquid to evaporation.
Karl’s Ultimate Micro Orange Marmalade with Meyer Lemon
(small batch recipe)
¼ cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
Zest of 2 Meyer lemons
2½+ cups fresh navel orange juice (about 4-5 oranges)
Zest of 4-5 oranges
2¾ cups sugar
1 Tbs. Meyer Lemon Liqueur
Note: This will produce 2 twelve ounce jars of marmalade. You may use these proportions to scale up the recipe to fit the amount of fruit you have to process.