When winter is in its grip and snow is all around, take heart: the sun is not far away.

Make it arrive sooner by enjoying some marmalade, aka “sunshine in a jar”.

By this time of winter, the Klondikers of old treasured the batches of canning, especially when it was something as toothsome as the stuff in this jar: bright, sunny, delicious orange marmalade.

It is easier to make than you might think. If you have never jammed before, this might be the start to a bright and fulfilling future.

Oranges and lemons have a lot of natural pectin, which is the starch that makes jellies and jams gel.

If you want to get fancy, buy Seville oranges. Otherwise, use whatever oranges and lemons are available as it will taste great either way.


Orange Marmalade

INGREDIENTS

4 oranges

4 lemons

8 cups cold water

3 cups granulated sugar

PREPARATION

Wash the oranges and lemons.

Cut in half lengthwise, then in quarters (still lengthwise).

Cut into paper-thin slices (the thinner, the better).

Put all the fruit into a large stainless steel or enamel pot.

Add eight cups of cold water (enough just to cover the fruit).

Cover with a lid and let sit overnight.

The next day, heat the fruit to boiling and boil for about one hour, stirring occasionally.

Measure four cups cooked fruit into another saucepan and boil hard for about eight to 10 minutes.

Add in three cups granulated sugar and continue to boil hard for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Do the gel test on a couple of saucers in your freezer:

Remove the saucer from the freezer, add about a teaspoon of marmalade and return the saucer to the freezer for one minute.

Check the marmalade for gelling (I taste it at this point to check for gel texture).

If you are happy with the consistency, remove the marmalade from the heat.

If you want a thicker marmalade, keep cooking (another five minutes is usually all you will need).

Check again for gelling, then remove the marmalade.

Portion into sterile jars (see note below).

Put on clean lids (see note below).

Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes (see note below).

Enjoy your bit of sunshine on toast, scones or muffins.

Sterilize Jars

Wash jars and place on cookie sheet.

Place in a 250F oven for 20 minutes.

Remove, let cool briefly, then fill with hot marmalade.

Clean Lids

Wash lids, place in bowl, cover with boiling water to sterilize.

Let sit for five minutes then drain.

Place on filled jars.

Hot Water Bath

This will ensure all bacteria have made their exit.

Fill saucepan with water, bring to a boil.

Have a cooling rack or a pot lid in the bottom to hold jars.

Place jars filled with hot marmalade, sealed tightly, into the hot water.

Boil at a low simmer for 10 minutes.

Carefully remove from hot water bath and let cool at room temperature.

If seals are tight, you will hear the jars popping.

Pat McKenna has a B.Sc in Food Science, Bachelor of Education and is a Red Seal Inter-Provincial Chef. She teaches the FEAST Program at F.H. Collins Secondary School.