Blood orange marmalade — it’s like spring in a jar

Blood oranges

A lovely bowl full of blood oranges, just waiting to be made into marmalade

It’s been a long winter.

Like most, I was thrilled when the groundhog didn’t see his shadow back in February…and depressed with every snowfall in March. Is it just me, or did it seem like March 2013 had 61 days, not a mere 31?

Despite winter’s refusal to yield to the next season, there were plenty of signs that spring was on the way: purple, yellow and white crocus valiantly sprouting up through the snow, baby calves venturing from their barns to explore the awakening fields, and the rubicund blood oranges making a sudden appearance at my local supermarket.

I first discovered blood oranges in the early 1970s when I was an exchange student in Munich, Germany. Imported from Israel, blood oranges were quite common in Bavarian and Austrian produce markets and often found displayed alongside their Spanish cousins from Valencia. While I originally found their mottled exterior colors a bit off-putting, I quickly fell in love with their unique sweetness, so different from the flavor of the Florida navel oranges I knew.

Imagine my sorrow when I discovered that blood oranges were relatively unknown back in the U.S. In fact, it was 25 year later that I first spotted blood oranges for sale at the neighborhood market. Since then, I have come to regard the multicolored citrus fruits as a delicious harbinger of spring.

But you can only make so many batches of blood orange sorbet, or plates of blood orange and arugula salads before you find yourself wondering how to best preserve these wonderful and short-lived fruits for year-round enjoyment.

Which brings me to Blood Orange Marmalade.

A blood orange, sliced to show the flesh

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two years ago, as a fairly novice canner in search of unique fruit jam recipes, I stumbled upon a great blog called, Food in Jars. Author Marisa McClellan has more than 100 great recipes for “small batch” (e.g., not Smuckers factory-sized quantities) canning on her blog — jellies, fruits, syrups, veggies, soups and sauces.

Marisa’s instructions are very straightforward, her photography is excellent, and her recipes work EVERY TIME. Lucky for me, one of her blog posts last year was a recipe for Blood Orange Marmalade.

When I spotted blood oranges in the product display a couple weeks ago, I loaded up my shopping card, pulled out my canning equipment and whipped together an absolutely scrumptious batch of Blood Orange Marmalade.

I’d show you photos of my marmalade-making session, but since the one downside to chopping up blood oranges is that you get the purple juice on EVERYTHING, I decided to keep my camera well away from the kitchen. But if you really, really need to see photos of the recipe in process, you can check Marisa’s blog post. My marmalade looks almost exactly like hers, but is a bit less chunky since I cut my orange pieces a bit smaller.

I went back to the store last night to pick up some more blood oranges so I could make a second batch of marmalade this weekend. Sadly, there were none available — I guess our season is over. So it looks like I’ll have to make those eight jars last until next spring.

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