The most memorable scenes in children’s books are often related to food. Some stories like Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs or Stone Soup revolve around food. Others have a very brief mention that sticks with you into adulthood: the raspberry cordial in Anne of Green Gables, Laura’s peppermint stick or maple sugar on snow in Little House on the Prairie, Pippi making pancakes.
Often though, there is huge disconnect between kids’ palates and the books. I’m talking about the fried fish in the Beaver’s den, sardines on toast with Mr. Tumnus, rum balls in the Wheel on the School, and marmalade sandwiches for Paddington. As a kid, I desperately wanted to like marmalade. It was so exotic sounding, and adults seemed excited to find a little package of one mixed in the stack of Smucker’s grape jelly at the breakfast restaurant. But the taste was bitter, the pieces of peel were tough, and that was the end of that. It sounded so sticky wonderful in the books, but just like Turkish Delight, the real stuff was simply bad news.
But now I’m an adult (heh) and like coffee & mustard, I now love marmalade. As with most things, I’m pretty sure that a good homemade version will appeal to kids as well. So here it is, a kid-friendly marmalade. The bitterness is nearly gone, the bits of peel are tender, and the kids will be licking their paws like Paddington. Serve it up on fresh bread with a little tea. And for a little fun, here’s a little Paddington game for the kids to play. The kids. Because you’re an adult now, right?
3 pounds of oranges
7 cups sugar
6 cups water
Canning jars and lids
1.) Wash your fruits well and use a vegetable peeler to remove strips of peel from the oranges. Try not to get too much of the white pith, that stuff is bitter. Slice the strips into little matchsticks, careful not to chop your fingertips off. Use a microplane or other grater to remove the lemon peel. I used about 1/3 cup orange peels and 1 tablespoon of lemon peel.
2.) Simmer the peels in 6 cups of water while you prepare the pulp.
3.) Use a knife to cut off the pith & peel. Then separate the fruit from the membrane. This is called “supreming” and I have to do this any time the kids eat oranges or else I’m yanking chunks of orange out of my choking kid’s throats. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve saved their lives only to yell, “chew your frickin’ citrus!” Coconut &Lime has a great tutorial if you’re confused.
4.) Juice the lemon & add it to the orange pulp, you should have about 3 cups of fruity stuff.
5.) Add the fruit to the simmering pot of zest with the sugar. Cook at a low boil until a candy thermometer reads 220 degrees. This takes about an hour or so.
6.) If you’re planning to store the marmalade in the freezer, you don’t have to do this canning step.
7.) Heat up your canning jars & lids in hot water. When the marmalade is ready, pour the hot marmalade into the hot jars with a funnel and close with lids and rings. Process in canner or a large pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Enjoy!