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Blood orange & vanilla marmalade

This is marmalade all fancied up. It's all lace gloves and garden parties and tea with the Countess. Okay, maybe I've been watching too much Downton Abbey, but if this marmalade was being served at tea in the Earl of Grantham's grand house, it would most definitely be upstairs.

Blood oranges are a once-in-a-while sight at my favourite greengrocer. I pick them up when I can and put them to use in my kitchen, usually in baking. Blood oranges have a rounded berry-like flavour to them. You'd never guess from the mostly orange peel that the flesh inside can range in colour from orange to red to deep purple. They're surprisingly special and worthy of being made into a marmalade that's fancy enough for Countesses (and home cooks) everywhere. Pinkies up!

Blood Orange & Vanilla Marmalade
Makes seven 250 mL (1 cup) jars
To prepare:
  • Make sure jars are clean and free of cracks and chips.
  • Bring the lids and rings to a boil in a small saucepan of water. Set aside and keep them in the hot water until ready to use.
  • Put a small plate in the freezer to perform a gel test (How to do a Gel Test: Spoon a small amount of hot marmalade onto a plate and return it to the freezer. After one minute, poke the marmalade with a finger. If it wrinkles slightly it will gel when cooled. If not, keep boiling and test again in a few minutes.)
3 lb (1.4 kg) blood oranges
6 cups (1.5 L) water
6 cups (1.5 L) granulated white sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) vanilla extract

Hand scrub oranges under cool running water. Slice off and discard the stem and blossom ends. Slice off peels trying to remove just the coloured part, leaving most of the white pith behind. Slice peel very thinly into strips until you have 2 ½ cup’s worth. Peel and discard remaining pith from oranges. Slice in half crosswise to pick out and discard seeds. Chop flesh into small pieces. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, combine strips of peel, chopped orange flesh (including any juice from the cutting board) and water. Bring the works to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Stir in sugar.  Bring to a full boil over highest heat, uncovered and stirring frequently, until it reaches gel stage, which should take about about 15 to 20 minutes (see above for How to do a Gel Test). Stir in vanilla. Ladle into clean jars leaving a ¼-inch head space and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Lovely, Your Ladyship!

How do you use blood oranges? Do you have a favourite type of marmalade?