When I first opened Christine Ferber’s Mes Confitures nearly a decade ago, I was surprised–étonnée, one might say–to find the book filled with fussy measures and overly precise instructions. This was a cookbook written by a home cook from France, a country where an ability to summon something from nothing by playing fast and loose with pantry ingredients is considered a birthright and where summoning elegant menus without mindlessly mimicking recipes to the letter has long been lauded as art.
Yet this lovely book’s uncharacteristic exactness never fails to turn out preserves of the most pristine flavors imaginable. It took only a single batch for me to appreciate Ferber’s less-than-lyrical wording, her unerringly precise amounts, her sweet tooth in terms of preserves, and her knack for selecting substance over style, all of which ensure that my kitchen epiphanies were as memorable as hers. The recipes I cherish most are those whose ingredients have an especially fleeting season, recipes which enable the reader to extend the ephemeral. Clearly, this is an author who knows her audience–perhaps better than they know themselves.–Christine Ferber
LC Delayed Gratification Note
This gem of a winter recipe necessitates patience–and not just in terms of waiting for blood orange season to come around again. It requires resting time on the part of the ingredients. It’s perhaps best undertaken on a weekend, when you have a spare moment to actually slow down and revel in what’s perhaps best described as the opposite of immediate gratification–in the best possible way.
Blood Orange Marmalade
- 1 3/4 pound Granny Smith apples preferably organic, unpeeled
- 4 1/8 cups water
- 2 3/4 pounds blood oranges preferably organic, or 17 ounces blood orange juice
- 5 2/3 cups sugar (or a touch less if you prefer your marmalade classically tart)
- 2 navel oranges preferably organic
- Juice of 1 small lemon
- Rinse the apples under cool running water. Remove the stems and cut the apples into quarters without peeling them.
- Place the apples in a preserving pan or other large, wide pot and cover with 3 1/4 cups of the water. Bring to a full boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 30 minutes. The apples should be soft.
- Collect the juice by straining the apple mixture into a large bowl, lightly pressing on the apples with the back of a skimmer or a spoon. Discard the solids.
- Filter the juice a second time by pouring it through cheesecloth that was wet under cool running water and wrung out, letting the juice run freely into a glass container. Refrigerate the juice overnight.
- Measure 2 1/8 cups of the apple juice, leaving in the container the sediment that formed overnight. Discard the remaining juice and sediment.
- Squeeze the blood oranges, saving any seeds, until you have 2 1/8 cups of juice. Place the seeds in a cheesecloth bag.
- Rinse and scrub the navel oranges under cool running water. Slice the oranges into very thin rounds.
- Place the sliced oranges in a preserving pan or other large, wide pot. Add 1 cup of sugar and the remaining 7/8 cup of water and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium and gently simmer until the slices are translucent.
- Add the reserved apple juice, blood orange juice, the remaining 4 2/3 cups of sugar, the lemon juice, and the reserved orange seeds in cheesecloth. Bring to a boil, stirring gently. Skim any foam from the surface. Continue cooking on high heat, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes. Skim again if need be. Remove the cheesecloth with the seeds. Return to a boil. Remove from the heat.
- Immediately ladle the jam into hot, sterilized jars and seal.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Mouthwatering puckery goodness in a jar! The word “marmalade” always takes me back to Paddington Bear and is very comforting and cozy. I’ve made other blood orange marmalades but this one stands out. I think it’s because of the apple juice rather than pectin and, of course, the juicy oranges themselves. The recipe tastes like a sunny morning in rural England. It’s a touch sweet for my taste, but then I am inclined toward more tart offerings. Even so, well worth the little extra effort. Thankfully it makes 12 cups of jewel-toned sparkling marmalade, so it isn’t a tiny batch. However, it took 20 minutes of stirring for it to get to the point I felt was sufficient to set rather than the 10 minutes stated in the recipe. Very pretty on the table and even better on the palate—just the thing for warm scones, pancakes, or ice cream.
Originally published January 13, 2012