The front door is wide open and there is a breeze flooding through. I can hear the ocean, see palm trees and the sun hasn’t stopped shining all day. It’s January and I’m not on vacation — I’m in my new home.
I moved to Southern California 7 days ago, flying away from DC just as the snow started falling — I got away right before the snowpocalypse of 2016 hit. As you might expect, there were many thoughts floating around my head in the weeks leading up to my 3000-mile cross-country move. The most glaring being major excitement and major anxiety. Lucky for me, the anxiety melted as soon as I began yoga in the front yard every morning.
I’ve spent much of the last seven days with my jaw dropped open in awe of everything around me, the words “oh my gosh!” have come out at least a couple dozen times. I am so inspired here, by the textures, colors, plants, and architecture — generally all the newness around me brings me a lot of happiness. I wanted my first post in my new home to reflect this feeling. So, using California citrus in the dead of winter felt like the right move.
We’ve been posting a lot of hearty comfort food (which is expected given the time of year) that you can share with friends and family. This recipe is no different, in that it is shareable and full of comfort. I was inspired by the colors of the clementine rind and leaves; bright orange and green like no other fruit in the grocery store.
Having no real idea of the differences between jams, compotes, and marmalades, I perused the Internet for a few hours. I learned the reason marmalades are most often made with citrus is because of the natural pectin in the peel — the pectin helps to set the marmalade naturally and thicken it perfectly. (California already teaching me good things!)
The ease of compote making can be alluring, but I promise you the extra few steps it takes to complete a marmalade over a compote is well worth it! There is rich, deep flavor in the bittersweet rind bits you find throughout marmalades. I love the layers of citrus from using not just clementines, but lemon and blood orange as well. Not to mention your kitchen will smell like pure joy from the two hour simmer you give the clementines!
- Peel clementines, lemon and blood orange. Once peeled, thinly slice the rinds into ribbons with a sharp knife. Be careful when slicing, leaving the pithy whites for the next step. Once peeled and sliced, transfer to a medium saucepan.
- Set a sieve over the saucepan to catch stray seeds and pith, juice the lemon, blood orange and clementines into the saucepan.
- Transfer all remaining pith, pulp, membrane, and seeds into a piece of cheesecloth. Tie off and add into the pot with rinds and juice. (The pectin from these components will aid in setting the marmalade.)
- Add water to the saucepan and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for about 2 hours, or until the peel is completely soft.
- Remove saucepan from heat and remove the bag of pulp. Allow to cool in a bowl until manageable, then squeeze as much liquid from the cheesecloth back into saucepan. (This liquid will be goopy and a little gross - don't be scared, that's okay!)
- Bring contents back to a simmer, then add sugar to the saucepan, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. Turn up the heat, bringing contents to a boil until the marmalade reaches a setting point, which usually take about 15 mins or until the mixture reaches about 220 degrees. Watch this process closely, do not burn or overcook into a rubbery mess. One way you can check (if you don't have a candy thermometer) is to take a scoop of the mixture and place on a small plate, refrigerate for one minute, when you remove the plate the mixture should resemble jelly. Once set, remove from the heat and spoon into a jar, sealing immediately.
ALSO - if you're wondering (as I was during my research) pith is the white, soft and spongy part under the peel of the citrus. Pectin is a gelatinous-like polysaccharide you find in ripe fruits, it's extracted and used as a setting agent. Essentially, it's what makes the marmalade.