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Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants.

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April 11, 2008 7:58 AM

Weekend project: Makin' Marmalade. Easy, schmeasy

Posted by Nancy Leson

You never know what riches you'll find at Big John's PFI. On a recent foray, I came across a can of Hartley's Ma Made Thick Cut Seville Oranges, stamped with the words "Just Add Sugar and Water." On closer inspection, it promised "6 Lbs of Delicious Homemade Marmalade in Just 30 Minutes" for $9.50.

And that's when I started to do the math. My husband, Mr. Toast, had been going through expensive orange marmalade at an alarming rate. He's tried 'em all:

Including these popular store-bought brands:

The only marmalade he was really crazy for was the homemade one I hand-carried from the Beth's Farm Kitchen stand in NYC's Union Square Greenmarket a few years back. It was so good, we started mail-ordering it from Beth. And because I know she's not growing those oranges in Stuyvesant Falls, NY, it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, I can make my own. And maybe, if I was lucky, it would be almost as good as hers.

So, I did. First, "Ma" gathered up the necessities:

And then Ma got to work:

Here's a close-up of the finished product:

And here's the full quid: Nice, huh?

Mr. Toast thinks so. Here's "Pa" this morning, literally enjoying the fruits of Ma's labor:

Kodi, lounging nearby, was far less excited:

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Posted by B Wood

8:32 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Hi Nancy,

I've been making my own jams, jellies, and fruit butter (apple, pear) for years. It's way better than what you can buy, which is too sweet for my taste. I use Pomona's Pectin, which sets the jam or jelly with a lot less sugar than other pectin products. That way you taste the fruit and nuthin' but the fruit.

Glad you're sticking around the local food scene!

Posted by smitcat

8:36 AM, Apr 11, 2008

I didn't know you could get Seville oranges in a can! I make marmalade from the fresh Sevilles every year, but I have to hunt around for them. They make the best, bitterest, marmalade. All others are toooo sweet.

So, how well did the canned ones work?

Posted by Quinn

10:10 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Hi Nancy,

Have you had the PLUM YUM 's at University Farmer's Market? So good it makes me cry? Tell Jerry I said hi!

Posted by Ann

10:17 AM, Apr 11, 2008

If you want a marmalade with a good bite, I grew up on Kumquat Marmalade...shipped up every year from my grandma's kumquat bush behind her mobile home in Southern California.

I find it's a more interesting taste than Orange marmalade.

Keep up the great blog, Nancy. I search it out every morning!

Posted by Nancy Leson

10:53 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Plum Yum sounds terrific, I'll have to check it out. And then, if it's made from Italian prune plums, I'll have to figure out how to make some myself: our neighbor's plum tree leans way over our property --not that I'm complaining. I tried to talk my son into stopping by the U-District farmers market last Saturday (when we were nearby, eating Mexican Spice Worm Snax), but no dice.

Fresh kumquats? I'm so jealous! When the clock strikes "cocktail hour" we put fresh kumquats in our Manhattans in this house -- try it, you'll like it.

Posted by gwen

9:09 PM, Apr 13, 2008

Whoops! Hope our friends haven't found your blog yet! I picked up a big can of Ma Made concentrate at PFI last year and tucked little jars of the finished product in with our usual baskets of homemade goodies. Well, it IS homemade, but, ahem, perhaps not quite as from-scratch as usual.

And is Kodi a little Eski? We've got a big one of those fluff-bunnies.

Posted by sherry g

3:37 PM, Apr 14, 2008

Hey, B Wood:
Where do you get Pomona's Pectin?
I, too, make my own jams and jellies and would love to use a pectin that calls for less sugar.

Posted by Angela

6:24 AM, Apr 15, 2008

Where is Big John's PFI located?

Posted by Ann

8:04 AM, Apr 16, 2008

Hi Nancy - have to send you Teresa Enzenhofer's recipe for real English marmelade.
Take 8 oranges and 4 lemons. Peel off just the coloured part and julienne. Cut the peeled oranges and lemons into quarters and tie up in cheesecloth, seeds and all, reserving any juice. Put the cheesecloth packet, the peel and reserved juice in a large pot and cover with 12 cups water. Go away for 12 hours.
Next day bring this to a boil, turn down to a bare simmer and let simmer for 4 - 5 hours. Remove the cheesecloth packet and press out the juice. Add 6 lbs. sugar and boil hard for 45 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour into sterilized jars and process 10 minutes in a simmering bath. Don't boil it until stiff, as it takes marmelade a day to set; best to use a jelly thermometer. It may not be as easy as Ma's but I'll defend the taste in any contest. You can also use this recipe to make grapefruit, lemon or lime marmelade.

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