As I might have (but probably didn’t) mention before, Hartwood Grove’s lesser sabbats are open circles and potlucks. I knew ages ago that for Litha, I wanted to make some sort of preserve to share. After all, this past year has been full of so much academic work that I’ve not been canning like I have in previous years–I wanted to get back in the saddle and share something that I love with my circle! If I had really been thinking, I would have made a strawberry jam seeing that strawberries are in high season throughout June in these parts. But the co-op had a full box of Valencia oranges that no one was eating (don’t know why; they’re delicious!), so I decided a sunny marmelade was in order, even if oranges are a winter fruit.
As I was pulling all my canning stuff out of the basement, it occurred to me that not everyone shares my undying love of marmalade–all those chunky bits seem to turn some people right off. So what did I do? I invented an orange jelly recipe! I poached some cinnamon sticks with the heating jelly, and it gave it a really nice solar pop (even though it again screams more ‘winter solstice’ than ‘summer solstice’ to me). If cinnamon isn’t your thing, you could leave it out entirely and just have a nice orange jelly. You could also poach a vanilla bean instead of the cinnamon for a bit of a dreamsicle twist. I think all would be good on bread, but the citrus would probably lend itself well to glazes for chicken or pork.
4 cups strained orange juice (about 12-15 oranges if fresh-squeezing)
4 2 1/2 inch cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup strained lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
3 cups sugar*
1 1.75 oz package low-sugar Sure Jell pectin*
*Other brands of low-sugar pectin can be used, but follow the instructions given for that brand when it comes to adding the sugar and the pectin
Squeeze the oranges if fresh squeezing, and run the juice through a fine mesh strainer to remove the pulp and seeds. Do the same with the lemons. Set the juices aside until you are ready to begin heating the jelly.
About 1/2 hour before beginning the jelly, fill a canner full of water and 6 or 7 half-pint canning jars. It will take just about 30 minutes for the water to reach a boiling point, so start this well in advance of the jelly, which will only take 10-15 minutes to make from the time you begin heating the juices. Note that the water in the canner should cover the jars by 1-2 inches. In a small saucepan, simmer the canning lids. Starting the canner first will ensure the jars and lids are sterilized when the jelly is ready to be poured.
Measure four cups of strained orange juice into a 6-quart Dutch oven. Add the cinnamon sticks and the lemon juice. In a separate bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of sugar and the package of low-sugar Sure Jell pectin. Add the pectin mixture to the juice, stir to combine, and begin to heat the jelly mixture over high heat, stirring frequently.
Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred), stirring constantly. Stir in the remaining 2 3/4 cups of sugar quickly. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil and boil it for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove the jelly from the heat and skim off any foam.
Remove the cinnamon sticks from the jelly and pull the jars out of the canner, pouring water from the jars into the canner. Quickly ladle the jelly into the hot jars, filling the jars to within 1/8 inch of the tops. Wipe the jar rims and threads to remove any jelly spills. Cover the jars with the two-piece lids, screwing the bands tightly. Lower the jars into the boiling water canner and process for 5 minutes (at altitudes below 1,000 feet, 10 minutes between 1,000 and 3,000 feet). Remove jars after processing and place them upright on a towel or cutting board to cool completely.
Do not disturb the jars for at least 24 hours. The jelly should have set by then, but it may take a full 48 hours to fully set. After 24 hours, place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and store sealed jars in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year. Opened jellies can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.
Yields 6 half-pint jars.