Waste Not, Want Not (Citrus Marmalade)

Waste Not, Want Not (Citrus Marmalade)
from Harley L. Sachs in Houghton, Michigan

We do most of our sailing on Keweenaw Bay, a part of Lake Superior that separates the Keweenaw Peninsula from the rest of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s a pristine, wild place where our old Venture 222 is often the only sailboat in sight. Unlike the lower Great Lakes, if we run out of drinking water there’s little risk in reaching over the side to dip up a cupful. It’s the advantage of fresh water sailing on the Big Lake. Some cottagers still lay a pipe out in the lake for their water supply.

When we do see other boats, we often socialize. Mother always taught me it was rude and ungracious to show up empty-handed as a guest. If you’re invited aboard a neighboring boat, a special treat is to bring something you’ve made yourself, and you can’t go wrong with homemade marmalade.

Though you may know only the orange variety, marmalade can be made from the skins of any variety of citrus fruit: lemons, grapefruit, citron, and of course oranges. To get more creative, why not use tangelos, kumquats, or other exotic fruits? An added plus is that if you don’t want to throw those rinds overboard, you can turn them into something special.

Homemade Citrus Marmalade

1 c. citrus peel, shred
(quantity of fruit depends on its size)
1 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. corn syrup

Note: A candy thermometer is helpful.

Making citrus marmalade could hardly be simpler. Wash and peel fruit. Flatten rinds on a cutting board. With a wide-bladed knife cut away the bitter white pith. Mince the rind finely with a sharp knife, or shred with a stainless steel grater (but be careful unless you want to end up with knuckle marmalade)! In port you might do this with a food processor.

To the 1 c. of shredded peel add granulated sugar and 1/4 c. corn syrup. The corn syrup is the secret, for without it the result will be too hard to spread. Adding a small amount of juice from the fruit will improve the flavor of the marmalade. Boil the mixture gently until the shreds of peel are clear. If you have a candy thermometer that has survived being knocked about in a drawer in that last gale, use it to monitor the temperature of the boiling marmalade. The temperature will pause at 212 degrees F until all the water has boiled away. Then cook the marmalade a little longer, but don’t let it reach the "soft ball" stage unless you want to turn the stuff into caramels.

I’m a cook who doesn’t like to waste things like lemon rinds and don’t have patience with recipes that call for 17 ingredients. Try a little experimenting yourself. You’ll find that fresh lemon or grapefruit marmalade spread on home-baked bread is a delightful adventure for taste buds tired of peanut butter.

Not only will these marmalades provide variety, they’ll preserve the citrus in your diet long after the last of the fresh fruit is only a memory.