an amber treasure

I love canning, and I love all the food preparation that goes into it, except for one: Peeling oranges and lemons for marmalade.  Marmalade is probably our favourite sweet preserve, and it is so expensive to buy good marmalade.

I found Hartley’s prepared Seville oranges at Coyle’s Country Store, and held onto it for a while, and finally when all other canning opportunities were exhausted, I got it ready. This is a 850 gram can of cut and cooked Seville orange rind and pulp. The label says to add sugar and water, cook for fiteen minutes, and bottle. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

It takes a fair amount of sugar – 4 pounds or 1.8 kg – but it makes 5 pints. (Note that the instructions tell the user that it makes 6 pounds, but that doesn’t tell me how many jars I needed. I just prepared extra jars.) I followed the instructions, added the 15 fluid ounces of water – the can is marked – and the bag of sugar, stirred until it boiled and then tasted.

Bitter.

Well, yes, Seville oranges are bitter. I did not add extra sugar, but put in a teaspoon or so of salt. (Salt offsets bitter.) Then I added two diced cored, unpeeled MacIntosh apples and some cinnamon sticks. I boiled it slowly for the required fifteen minutes, ladled it into sterilized jars (put the clean empty jars in the hot water bath canner and bring to a full boil for five minutes) then sealed the top of each jar with disks of waxed paper (use the jar lid as a template for cutting it out, press it down onto the hot contents of the jar) and screwed on the lids. Of course, the jars can be processed or sealed with paraffin, but wax paper is what I had and is acceptable in a sterilized jar for high sugar preserves. I pushed the cinnamon sticks down into the preserves as I filled the jars, one segment to a jar. I did not dice the apples fine enough, so they floated, but this isn’t a big fault.

The flavour is sweet enough for toast but still orangey and spicy enough to glaze a ham or pork roast.

The colour is, of course, more beautiful than any jewel.

We spooned the last of the syrup out of the kettle directly into our mouths – no intermediary bread necessary.

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