Whernever I’m in New York I love to visit Sarabeth’s Bakery in Chelsae Market. This quaint specialty foods shop offers some of the best food in the city from apple cinnamon french toast to grilled smoked mozzarella sandwiches. However, my favorite food find at Sarabeth’s is the orange-apricot marmalade. I wasn’t a fan of orange marmalade until I discovered Sarabeth’s. On my last trip to New York my intention was to purchase the peach apricot preserves but I wasn’t paying attention when I bought it. When I got back to North Carolina I realized I grabbed the orange-apricot marmalade. Since I was several hundred miles away from the store I couldn’t readily return it so I decided to give it a try. And I was pleasantly surprised that I finally found an orange marmalade that I liked. It wasn’t bitter or too sweet unlike the marmalades I’d had in the past.
From time to time I can find Sarabeth’s Orange-Apricot Marmalade at Home Goods. But it’s never when I want it so I took it upon myself to try and make this popular fruit preserve in my kitchen. My plan wasn’t to re-create the wheel, I just wanted to see if I could make my own orange marmalade. Sarabeth’s uses simple ingredients that pack a lot of flavor and I wanted to stay true to that with my first experiment with making homemade marmalade. At first apperance, making orange maramalade doesn’t seem too difficult. It’s just a little tedious. Thinly slicing the orange peels without leaving too much of the bitter pith but keeping enough of the pith to act as the natural pectin needed to give the marmalade its gelatinous texture can be a little intimidating. After all of that, making orange marmalade is a piece of cake. Just add sugar and water, and gently simmer on the stove until done. Pour into sterilized jars and put away.
I had to make the marmalade a couple times before I got the hang of it. Initially it was too sweet and turned into a hard jelly ball in the jar when it cooled. It was pretty gross. After a little tweaking to the recipe the marmalade finally tasted good and didn’t turn into an unappealing jelly ball. I’m still not too sure about my canning ability so I’m just going to keep it in the refrigerator.
Even though my first attempts at making marmalade didn’t turn out as expect, I eventually got a rewarding outcome from this 2-day process—homemade marmalade that I can enjoy in between trips to New York. Now I just have to work on my canning skills.
Makes 4 pints
6 Valencia oranges
½ medium fresh pineapple
8 dried apricots, quartered
10 cups water
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
6 ½ cups sugar
½ tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon apricot brandy or Gran Marnier, optional
Wash and dry the oranges. Cut them in half crosswise and squeeze the juice into a small fine-mesh sieve set over a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, removing the seeds. Place the seeds in a square of several layers of cheesecloth. Scrape the white membrane from each rind and add to the cheese cloth. Scrape out as much of the white pith as possible and discard. (I used a melon baller to scrape out the pith.)
Thinly slice the orange peels. Zest and juice the lemons and add to the orange juice. Add the lemon seeds to the cheesecloth. Peel and core the pineapple. Add the core to the cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with kitchen string. Cut the pineapple into ½ -inch chunks.
Add the orange juice mixture, orange peels, apricots, pineapple, cheesecloth pouch, 8 cups water and salt to a large stockpot or Dutch oven.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the peels are very soft, about 1 hour, stirring frequently. Remove the pot from the heat. Cover it and let sit overnight at room temperature.
The next day, remove the cheesecloth bundle, squeezing the liquid into the pot. Discard the bundle. Add 2 cups water and stir in the sugar. Bring the orange mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the butter. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 60 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and cook for an additional 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Continue cooking the marmalade until it reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
(To double check, place a saucer in the freezer until cold, about 15 minutes. Drop a teaspoon of marmalade onto the chilled saucer and place it in the freezer for 1 minute. If the marmalade becomes firm and does not run then it’s done.)
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the apricot brandy, if using. Ladle the marmalade into sterilized jars and fill right below the rim.
Wipe the rim and jar with a damp cloth. Apply the lids and seal. Cool to room temperature and the jam is set. Store in the refrigerator for up to six months. (Follow specific canning instructions to store in panrty.)