From bitter fruit comes sweet treat |

From bitter fruit comes sweet treat

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Marmalade dates all the way back to the 1500s. This delicious preserve was invented in Scotland, in the port of Dundee in the late 18th century when a local victualler, James Keiller discovered a cargo of oranges being sold cheaply. Thinking he could sell it for profit in his shop, he bought the whole cargo, only to discover the oranges were bitter and therefore unsellable.

In despair, his wife took them home with the idea of making a jam. The resulting “jam” was hugely successful and was named Marmalade after Marmelos, a Portuguese word for a quince paste similar in texture to the orange spread. Marmalade is still produced today by the Keiller Company in Dundee.

Now most orange marmalades have the rinds in them which makes it slightly bitter. But I have found a safe recipe for orange marmalade without the rinds.

Orange marmalade

8 whole oranges – peeled, chopped (4 cups)

3 whole lemons – peeled, chopped (1 1⁄2 cups)

4 cups of orange juice or water – orange juice gives you extra flavor.

4 cups of granulated sugar.

1 box of pectin – Low sugar

Place clean jars into your water bath canner and simmer so they are hot. Put your lids and bands into a small pot on the back of the stove to keep warm also.

Place the chopped fruit and 4 cups of water or orange juice in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the pectin and bring back to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil hard for one minute. Skim foam if there is any off of the top of the marmalade.

Bring one jar out at a time and fill with marmalade to a quart of an inch from the top. Wipe the rim and place your lid and band on. Hand tighten only do not over tighten. Put the jar back in the water bath canner and fill remaining jars until the marmalade pot is empty. If you end up with a jar that is not all the way full put in the refrigerator for immediate use.

Make sure your jars are covered with at least 2 inches of water above the top. Let the water come up to a nice rolling boil. Don’t let the water boil too hard, you might break a jar. Boil them for 20 minutes, based on our altitude. The recipe calls for 15 minutes, and then I added another five.

Lift the jars out of the water and place on a towel on the counter. Leave them alone for 24 hours. The lids should not have a give to them in the middle if they are sealed properly. It may take up to two weeks for marmalade to set so don’t despair.

I use marmalade for thumbprint cookies, orange chicken and over pork roast. But a good batch of biscuits with this sweet treat and cup of tea is always good on a rainy Sunday morning. Enjoy!

April Reese is a certified master food preserver through the University of California at Davis. She has been canning and preserving food for more than 15 years. She can be reached at (530) 274-3871 at the A to Z Supply Garden Center or you can email her questions at

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