I am a sucker for Marmalade, probably because I particularly enjoy foods that balance contrasting elements. I love the play between the syrupy jelly and the firm, chewy rinds. I love the complex harmony of the tangy citrus, the bitter rind and the subtle nuances of pure cane sugar. And I love how versatile marmalades are – they can be enjoyed plain on toast or biscuits, you can use them as a glaze for meats, an ingredient in marinades, a condiment on cooked meats or a cheese tray, or my personal favorite way – slathered on a ham or turkey sandwich! Seriously, Cranberry Marm is THE perfect foil for a thick slab of ham on sourdough. What other jams or jellies are so easy to make and so gosh darned useful!? None, I tell ya.
At the end of this winter, when the stores were stocked with organic lemons and heirloom navel oranges I got to work on 3 different marmalades, and I am absolutely in love with each one of them! Here’s the recipe for the Cranberry version, which is excellent on sandwiches, as an accompaniment to a cheese tray or grilled/roasted meats, or just on top of a cream cheese slathered bagel.
I strongly encourage you to use organic citrus if at all possible, since you will be eating the rind. I also encourage you to seek out heirloom Navel Oranges (available late winter at Trader Joes!) – they are FAR more flavorful and tart and have a finer texture than modern hybrids. If you are unfamiliar with any of the canning terms or procedures I mention below, please consult the Ball website, or get yourself a copy of their excellent Blue Book Guide to Preserving.
- 1 heirloom Navel Orange
- 2 cups water
- 4 cups whole Cranberries, fresh or frozen [see tip below]
- ½ cup dried pineapple (the sugared dried fruit that you would snack on, NOT the glaceed stuff meant for fruitcake!!!)
- 3 cups sugar
Wash and sterilize jars and lids (recipe makes about 4 half-pints). Slice orange very thinly (a mandoline is a great help here), remove any seeds and dice orange into small bits – rind, pith and all. Dice pineapple in same sized bits at the orange.
In a large, deep-sided stainless steel pot (I use a 7 qt All Clad stockpot that I got on the cheap at Zappos) combine the diced orange and the water. Bring to a boil and simmer until orange rind is tender – 5-10 minutes.
Add the cranberries, pineapple and sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar and bring mixture to a boil. Boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens (10-15 minutes).
Test mixture for doneness by using the plate test or cooking the mixture to the gel point (which will vary, based on your elevation). Skim off any foam, ladle marmalade into hot jars, seal and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Turn heat off and allow jars to sit in hot water another 5 minutes before lifting out and cooling on the counter.
TIP: Want cranberries all year long to make cakes, cobblers and this marmalade? Buy big bags when they are on sale at Thanksgiving, sort, wash and dry the berries, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze solid for 2-3 hours. Pack cranberries into quart freezer bags and store. Cranberries will be okie-dokie in the freezer for at least a year.