Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Why Buy Seville Oranges? This Expert Marmalade Maker Knows!

Veda Karlo, of New York City, is a long-time customer of Florida Fruit Shippers who enjoys making her own marmalade using our Seville oranges. She has become so interested in the hobby that she regularly enters her marmalades in contests, including the World’s Original Marmalade Awards contest, held annually in Cumbria, England.

Though marmalade can be made with other types of oranges, this famous, bittersweet orange preserve is traditionally made with Seville oranges for the best flavor. This type of orange is rarely found in stores, so online purveyors like Florida Fruit Shippers are the perfect way to buy. We had a chance to interview Veda about this fun and intriguing hobby.

Seville Oranges, also known as 'marmalade oranges' or 'bitter oranges'. Photo by A. Barra [CC BY-SA 4.0]

How much marmalade or jam do you make per year, and how many kinds do you typically make?
I make about 500 pints of jam in the summer, and an equal amount of marmalade in the winter. I make over 50-60 kinds in one year, since I often experiment with new combinations while making old favorites as well. I haven't sold a jar ever, so as to maintain my amateur status! Instead, I give the jars away to all my family and friends and donate the rest to charity sales.

Preserves travel really well, and mine go all over the world. Their long shelf life makes them an ideal gift. I have cases of jam and marmalade under every bed in my apartment, just waiting to be transferred to a new home.

How do you like to use your marmalades?
I have always loved baking, and the ideal partner for bread is jam or marmalade. Marmalade also makes an ideal topping for yogurt or cottage cheese, a great filling for cakes and cookies, and a good addition to ice creams and sauces. It also has savory uses, such as marinades or glazes. Seville orange marmalade also finds its way into some great cocktails.

Can you describe the Marmalade Awards?
The English love jam and marmalade, and the stores there offer hundreds of different varieties. Above all, they prize Seville orange marmalade. (Winston Churchill even allowed the transport of Seville oranges during the blockade in World War II, feeling them necessary to the morale of the war-torn English people.)

The Marmalade Awards and Festival, now in its 13th year, happens during National Marmalade Week. Only the English would go that far in celebration of marmalade! Over 3,000 entries make their way to Cumbria from over 50 countries. The judging and awards ceremony are held at the beautiful Dalemain historic mansion in Penrith.

My daughter and her husband moved to London two years ago, so we get to visit them three times a year. Over the last five years, I have been able to travel to the festival three times, where I have enjoyed meeting others who are interested in making good marmalade. The Q and A sessions are very intense, and the display of 3,000 jars is an impressive assortment, especially when you consider that this all really starts from just 3 basic ingredients: citrus, sugar and water. I am proud to say I have won gold at Dalemain for every category I have entered!

Tell us more about your Seville Orange, Cranberry and Horseradish Marmalade, which won the “Most Inventive” prize at the Marmalade Awards last year. How did you come up with this recipe?
Orange and cranberries are common companions for Thanksgiving, and horseradish is so very English, so I thought the three combined would make a great savory marmalade. It sounds like an odd trio, but the combination is quite distinctive and useful for cold cuts, roasts, and glazing vegetables.

Why do you use Seville oranges in your marmalades?
I thank those who have kept those Seville orange groves alive. I understand they make great root stock for other table oranges, but I like to think that I am getting the descendants of those brought over by the St. Augustine friars in the 1700s to Florida. Florida Seville oranges have the best and most authentic flavor and taste, compared to the CA oranges, which might be other varieties, though all are marketed legitimately under the name “Seville.”

Why do you choose to order your Seville oranges online?
I have lived on the upper east side of Manhattan for almost 50 years, which is not farm country. I do have access to spectacular local produce at the GrowNYC's Farmers Green market at Union Square, where I have shopped for many years and have volunteered on Wednesdays for over six years. However, we do not have citrus in NY state, except for a few trees in greenhouses on Long Island.

Ordering online is the perfect answer for everyone, no matter where one is living in the US. Few supermarkets carry specialty citrus, and even if they do, the fruit has been processed and is not at optimum freshness. I tried several options, but Florida Fruit Shippers has been the most reliable and cooperative in providing the citrus for my Seville marmalades. I order about 4-5 (4-tray) boxes each winter, and the company has been great about staggering the shipments, as I can only deal with one box at a time. Having the fruit delivered to my door is fantastic.

What advice do you have for someone making orange marmalade for the first time?
Seville orange marmalade is the ultimate marmalade, and requires some dedication to make a decent batch. For newbies, I would recommend reading Christine Ferber’s books and Rachel Saunder’s Blue Chair books. Making marmalade is easy, but requires some time.

The process is very flexible, and is best spread over several days so the project is not too daunting. I watch BBC series while I sliver the citrus. Then I put it aside to soak overnight to release the pectin and reduce bitterness, and cook it whenever it is convenient on the third day.

Do you have a marmalade recipe you can share with us?
Here is a simplified recipe for Seville Orange cranberry horseradish marmalade. It’s great for Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham!

Seville Orange Cranberry Horseradish Marmalade
2 lbs. Seville oranges (5-6)
2 lbs. fresh cranberries
1/2 lb. lemons (2)
1/4-1/2 lb. fresh horseradish root, depending on sharpness desired
4 lbs. sugar

  1. Wash and juice Seville oranges.
  2. Refrigerate juice.
  3. Cover skins with water overnight to remove some of the bitterness.
  4. Next day, drain off water and add more fresh water to cover skins and simmer for 2 1/2 hours covered, until very tender.
  5. Cool. Scrape off membranes and some of the white pith, and discard along with water.
  6. Cut cooked orange peels into fine strips or chop coarsely in food processor.
  7. In large pot, combine oranges, reserved orange juice, cranberries, 1/2 c. water and sugar.
  8. Stir to dissolve sugar.
  9. Bring to a full boil and stir occasionally until cranberries pop, about 4-5 min.
  10. Meanwhile, squeeze lemons.
  11. Grate peeled horseradish directly into lemon juice to preserve sharpness.
  12. Add to pot and boil another 2-3 min. until mixture reaches 220 F on a candy thermometer.
  13. Turn off heat, and skim off any floating scum.
  14. Pour into sterilized jars and cover with lids and rings.
  15. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes for long term storage, or just refrigerate for 2-3 weeks.
  16. Cool undisturbed for a day.

For more about Seville oranges, take a look at our blog on this fruit: The Magic of The Sour Seville. And if you’d like to try your own hand at marmalade (or one of the many other recipes that call for Sevilles), you can order Seville oranges from Florida Fruit Shippers.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

How to Make Candied Orange Peel at Home

Everyone loves eating fresh oranges, tangerines, tangelos, and grapefruit, but did you know that some of the most concentrated flavor in citrus is actually in the peel? Citrus peel is also extremely nutritious, containing many vital phytonutrients. Though some recipes call for citrus zest or peel, we most often just throw it away.

Since I eat so many citrus fruit in season (sometimes we may go through 8 in a day!), I have spent some time thinking about all those discarded peels. One of my favorite uses, especially as the holiday roll around, is making candied orange peel. It’s super delicious...like fresh orange gummy bears, but better!

Note that there’s no need to peel citrus just for this use. When we’re eating a lot of citrus and I know I’ll have time to make these, I just remove peels the way this recipe indicates. You can store them in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days until you’re ready to proceed.

For this recipe, you want citrus with thicker, easy-peeling skin. Navels are a great choice. Tangelos or tangerines could also work. Avoid thin-skinned, hard-to-peel varieties.

You can also use grapefruit for this recipe, though you’ll want to go through the boil/discard water step a couple more times to cut down on bitterness.

A note on quantities: this recipe can easily be scaled up or down. The syrup proportions are simply 1:1 sugar to water. When coating with finished peels with sugar, just use as much as seems necessary.

4 medium/large oranges
2 ½ cups sugar, divided
2 cups water (plus water for boiling)
Chocolate chips, as desired, for coating (optional)

  1. First, cut the top and bottom off 4 medium-sized fruit. There’s no need to cut a lot off here—you just don’t want the very ends.

  2. Next, score the fruit in quarters lengthwise. If the orange were a globe, this would be along its “longitudes,” not the equator. Go pretty deep with a sharp knife, till you feel the blade hitting up against the orange flesh.

  3. At this point, you should be able to gently remove the peel in 4 neat sections. Don’t worry about the white pith—its pectin lends chewy texture to the finished product.
  4. Now cut the quartered peel into strips. I like them about ¼ thick, but some prefer thinner, more like 1/8”.

  5. Put your sliced peel into a pot and cover generously with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain, cover with fresh cold water, boil 5 minutes, and drain. Repeat the process one more time and drain.
  6. Combine two cups of granulated white sugar with two cups of water in the same pot and bring to a rolling boil. Add the peel. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. (pic 6) Simmer gently for approximately 45-60 minutes or until peel is translucent. The pith should no longer appear white, but instead saturated with syrup. However, be careful not to overcook it such that the peel begins to break apart.
  7. Remove peel with a slotted spoon to a wire cooling rack. I put my cooling rack over a cookie sheet lined with tin foil to make cleanup easier. Allow the peel to cool just enough to handle (they need to still be “tacky”), then roll them in the remaining ½ cup sugar. (Note: the remaining sugar water is an orange-flavored syrup now. Don’t throw it away! It is excellent in tea or mixed drinks, can be poured on cakes, and will keep well in the fridge.)

  8. Leave the sugared peel out to dry for at least 4-6 hours or overnight, then store in an airtight container in a dry place at room temperature. Candied peel will keep for several months. (pic 10)
  9. Enjoy eating, gifting, or cooking and baking with your delicious candied peel!
  10. To coat your candied peel in chocolate and make a true orangette, wait till your peel has dried overnight. Then melt some chocolate chips over a double boiler or in the microwave. For a traditional appearance, dip in only one end. Let dry on a wire cooling rack. Store separately from peel that has not been chocolate-dipped. Orangettes do not keep as long and should be eaten within a week or two.

Many wonderful recipes using candied orange peel are available on the Florida Fruit Shippers Pinterest Page, https://www.pinterest.com/flfruitshippers/boards/ specifically on our Citrus Desserts https://www.pinterest.com/flfruitshippers/citrus-desserts/ and Rise-n-Shine with Citrus https://www.pinterest.com/flfruitshippers/rise-n-shine-with-citrus/ pages.

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Monday, December 3, 2018

Florida Citrus: The Perfect Gift When You Don’t Know What to Gift

It’s that time of year again—the time when you need to find and buy gifts for… well, it sometimes seems like just about everyone.

When it comes to some recipients, this task is easy. I love nothing more than picking out fun new toys for young children. And everyone knows the satisfaction of finding the perfect, unexpected item for someone whose tastes you know well. For others, a simple gift card to a favorite store is just right.

The Ones You Get Stuck On

But what about that favorite teacher whose tastes you don’t know? Those new business clients who need a gesture of appreciation?

How about the aging relative who literally has everything… and then some? Then there’s the acquaintance who did you that big favor. You need something for her, but you’ve never been to her house. What would be right?

Unfortunately, there are so many ways to go wrong when you need to buy a gift for someone you don’t know well.

Books and music? Too personal.

Gift cards? Not personal enough!

Accessories, jewelry, and the like? It’s just impossible to predict other people’s tastes and preferences.

Bath items and lotions? Many people avoid these items due to disliking strong scents.

As for knick-knacks and decorative items, most of us have way too many of these already. (If you haven’t been trying out the current trend of decluttering, it might be time to start! For instance, have you heard of Marie Kondo’s “life-changing magic of tidying up” or of “Swedish death cleaning”? Both can make your life calmer, simpler, and more peaceful.)

Is Food a Good Option?

So… no entertainment items, no personal care, no clothes, no knick-knacks. What’s left? We often fall back on tradition and go with the old favorite: food.

In lots of ways, this is a great choice. After all, who doesn’t like food? Cookies, chocolate, candy—yum. Plus, there’s something about the tradition of celebrating the holidays this way that feels warm and genuine.

But…let’s face it. This can be a minefield! 45 million Americans diet every year. Twelve to thirteen percent report food allergies. And about 60% are on a restricted diet of some kind: low-carb, vegan, gluten-free, paleo...and the list goes on.

About to give up? Here’s where we come in.

Florida Citrus: The Gift Everyone Can Enjoy

While these food restrictions do rule out most traditional holiday food gifts, here’s one virtually every single person on your list can have: sweet, juicy, healthful Florida citrus, like our oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit.

Even the most restrictive diet is likely to allow fresh citrus! Allergies to it are very rare.

Plus, enjoying a sweet orange or tangerine is not going to cause any worries about not eating well. Instead, your gift recipient can feel good about enjoying a gift that’s completely guilt-free while also being truly delicious.

At a time when heavy, calorie-laden treats are all around us, a holiday gift of Florida citrus is a truly brilliant choice. Our delicious, juicy oranges and grapefruit can be enjoyed by all. They won’t blow anyone’s diet or make anyone feel sorry that they ate them. They certainly won’t be hidden away in a closet, and they won’t end up regifted or need to be donated to the thrift store.

And afterwards? No one will have to “declutter” anything but a few peels.

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