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Saturday, January 22, 2011


When my husband and I decided to buy a home, we originally looked for a condo with a tiny backyard. I want little or no work outside of the home. What we bought was a four bedroom single family dwelling with almost a quarter of an acre. Ah, good intentions.

Built in 1979, our place has eight fruit trees—two apricots, crabapple, Granny Smith apple, ornamental plum, pomegranate, Meyer lemon, and an orange tree. All the trees—except the pomegranate, a gift from my cousin Cindy last year—are thirty years old. The centers of the trees are decayed and full of termites and ants. The outer edges are producing a multitude of offspring in the form of fruit beyond the imaginings of this city girl.

This summer I had so much organic apricots that I made jar after jar of apricot butter. The recipe I found on line and required only fruit, sugar, and a crock pot. I gave away ten freezer jars of the stuff and froze three pints for us. The last one, I opened yesterday.

Then came January, with a bumper crop of Meyer lemons and unidentified oranges, I am on my third picking of the citrus fruit. My neighbors run into their houses and lock the doors when they see me approaching with bags of lemons. The oranges are harder yet to give away. The lemons are perfect in flavor and juice but the oranges are small and not sour but a tad on the tart side. When I offer oranges the question is always, “Are they sweet?”

“Well, no. A little on the tart side.”

The victim screws up his or her nose and shakes the head a clear, “No, thank you.”

This morning my kitchen counter displayed three pounds of lemons and about thirty pounds of washed oranges. What to do? What to do?

I went online downloaded a lovely article published by the University of California, Davis. All about oranges, it tells of the care and feeding of the plant plus a few ideas about what to do with this sunny fruit. I did a Google, Bing, and Ask search of orange recipes. Most covered orange marmalade. Some recipes instructed the creation of cordials, candied citrus circles, and orange cheesecake. The recipe with the largest amount of orange usage was a marmalade recipe that called for nine oranges and four cups of sugar. That is correct. Nine oranges and four cups of sugar. That is not jam that is a sugar high.

I read fifteen marmalade recipes including a raw marmalade recipe that asked me to cook one-third of the recipe then mix in the other two-thirds cultured with Kefir whey—whatever that is. I was absolutely sure I didn’t have it in the cupboard. Plus the raw dude wanted me use gelatin instead of pectin. Why no pectin? Maybe, I thought, it was a chemical based product but according to UC Davis pectin is made from the white-pulpy part of the orange. Sounds natural to me.

So I decided to make my own recipe. Yea. I know. What the heck do I know about making jam? I made a lot of apricot jam this summer. The way I looked at it, there were thirty pounds of oranges sitting on the counter and heaven knows how many more out on the tree. What did to lose other than time?

Organic Orange Marmalade ala Pam

Into a clean crock pot
  • 2 cups of fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Zest of 3 oranges sliced in thin ribbons. Okay I was having so much fun with the zester that makes the thin ribbons that I put the zest of 10 oranges in it and it was too bitter so I had to pull out much of the zest. So don’t make the same mistake. If you don’t have a zester then you need to scrape all the white out of the orange peel and finely slice the rind. Good luck.
  • Pulp of 10 organic orange sections – no white parts. I used 20 oranges because my crop was small this year. If you buy oranges they will be larger so you will need less.
  • Zest of ½ organic Meyer lemon
  • Pulp of 1 Meyer lemon—no white parts
  • 1 jar about one pound of organic honey
  • I had some leftover candied ginger from Christmas and threw that in the crock pot

Heat on low heat until the rind is soft and yummy
Cool to room temperature
3 Minutes Mix in 1 package No Cook Pectin (I got that Wal-Mart last fall)

Ladle into 3 small Ball brand plastic freezer jars or containers you already have
Refrigerate for 1 hour before eating—freeze or give away the rest.