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    Posted April 14, 2010 by
    Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines
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    Spoon Fed - Share your kitchen wisdom

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    The Orange Marmalade Story


    The Orange Marmalade Story

    Once upon a time, when I was in my teens and impatient as only a teenager can be, my mother came home with six oranges and said to me, “I will teach you to make orange marmalade since you like it so much.”

    Now, my mother likes to make all sorts of preserves and pickles and I thought it would be the same quick easy way. She got out her well-sharpened and well-used paring knives while I looked for the chopping board and bowls.

    “Okay, daughter, first you must peel the orange skin very, very thinly, as thinly as you can, so that it is almost paper-like.

    I picked up the first orange and tried to copy the thin ribbons of peel she was swiftly removing from her orange. “This is hard,” I told her. “Why do I have to make it so thin? Can’t I just chop it into little pieces?”

    “Well, if you want the taste to be subtle, you have to shave the peel very thinly,” said my mother.

    “This will take forever!” I said.

    “It only seems forever, but think of how much better the marmalade will taste.”


    Peeling those oranges and then later, removing the seeds and chopping the pulp finely, took the better part of the afternoon.

    “Okay, done. What’s next? All the peeling and endless chopping is making me hungry. I can’t wait to have some later.”

    “Oh, it’ll be three days before the marmalade will be ready,” said my mother. “And even then, it’ll be better if you let it mature for a couple of days. A week is best.”

    “That long! How tedious!” I said.

    “Think of it as delayed gratification, a reward for something you like, that takes time and effort and care in making.”

    “But three days!” I wailed.

    “First, you have to add water to what you’ve done and then you have to let it be. Let it sit overnight,” said my mother.

    “Overnight? And just water? Doesn’t it need sugar?” I asked her.

    “Just water. Sugar is on the third day. You have to boil the water and orange mixture first. And then let it be again.”

    “Gee, I didn’t know this was going to be a major thing.”

    “Now you know,” said my mother. “And next time you pile on the marmalade on your toast, you know how long it takes to make it. Just like life – good things come to those who wait. And to those who work to make things happen. Just like life.”

    And now, many years later, when I make marmalade, I remember my mother, Purita, and how she made the whole three day marmalade-making process a lesson about life for the then teenage me.





    First, peel the thin colored outer skin from your desired number of oranges. For this recipe, I used three nice golden oranges.

    Remove the seeds and put them into a little cloth bag, if desired, for a deeper flavor. Add to the peel and pulp mixture.


    Cover the oranges with water three times their bulk and let stand overnight.


    On the second day, cook mixture, fast and furious (so to speak), for 20 minutes and cool for 24 hours.


    On the third day, carefully measure 3/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of juice and fruit.


    Cook quickly until the mixture passes the old-fashioned jelly test. (Please see below.) If the oranges are soft and ripe, add about 1 tablespoon fresh tart lemon juice per 4 cups just before removing the marmalade from the stove.

    Cool, put into sterilized jars and seal with paraffin. (Oh, and don't forget to remove the bag of seeds!)


    *Old-fashioned jelly test:
    Put a saucer in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator. As soon as the marmalade starts to thicken, dab a little of the mixture on the cold saucer. If the marmalade holds its shape and is no longer runny, congratulations, your marmalade is ready! Enjoy.

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