Preserved: Vanilla-Orange Marmalade
I am somewhat of a jam snob. When I go out for breakfast, I have been known to judge the restaurant entirely on its jam selection. If they only have plastic packets of orange marmalade, you can bet I won't be back. I've always found marmalade far too sour, sharp, and bitter.
But I'm also obsessed with making jam. And in the winter, the fruit selection at most supermarkets is limited. Oranges are just about the only thing in season. Last week, when I really wanted to can something to give to friends for New Year's Day brunch, I decided to make marmalade at home.
Even though I despise it. Even though I'd rather eat dry toast.
Or so I thought. It turns out that DIY orange marmalade tastes nothing like the store-bought stuff, or the stuff in those little packets. Homemade marmalade is bright, sweet, and bursting with citrus flavor. It tastes like the juiciest orange you ever ate, only slathered over buttered bread. Yum. On a whim, I threw a split vanilla bean into the pot and let it bubble away with the other ingredients. When I strained the bean out, my marmalade was flecked with vanilla seeds and infused with a subtle spicy warmth.
My recipe is a bit time-consuming and requires a lot of chopping (some of which can be done in the food processor) but trust me, the results are absolutely worth it. This marmalade is so delicious you will leap out of bed in the morning excited for breakfast. You will also find yourself dreaming up new ways to eat it: swirled into yogurt, spooned over ice cream, and sandwiched between graham crackers.
The recipe yields enough marmalade to fill eight half-pint jars. As I mentioned earlier, a jar would make a perfect New Year's Day gift--but good luck trying to part with one.