Citrus Season is Here!

On Prince Edward Island, where my French-Canadian ancestors rooted their lives, only the luckiest boys and girls received a fragrant, juicy, orange in the toe of their stocking on Christmas morning. All little toys and sweets were cast aside in favor of savoring this seasonal fruit that could easily be divided and shared with friends. Living now in a neighborhood that was once a citrus grove, I have the modern-day privilege of taking a few steps out my door to enjoy Arizona Sweet oranges, Rio Red grapefruit, Lisbon lemons, Sanguinelli blood oranges, and Mexican limes. These luscious treats are ripe for enjoyment right around Christmas and can be left on the tree to enjoy through April or May. Last year my boys sold bushels of oranges at our local Farmer's Market and learned a little about running a business. They paid the market 10% booth fee; their employee (me) $10 each; charity (St. Vincent de Paul) 10%; and got to split the remainder.

We always anxiously await citrus season every year because we know that we can consume fresh sweet orange juice with abandon and are no longer forced shell out $7 for each gallon of plastic-packaged, prepared-from-concentrate, who-knows-where-it-came-from, you-call-this-orange-juice-?, orange juice. This year I decided to try my hand at making orange marmalade. I used an Alton Brown recipe from the internet and the taste is good, but it turned out a bit watery. I'd like to perfect my technique and will take any suggestions offered upon me. Two things I learned that surprised me: (1) marmalade doesn't require the use of pectin because the oft-maligned pith naturally contains pectin and the sour Seville oranges have the highest pectin content, which is why they are favored. I also didn't realize the mountain of sugar required -- 3 lbs for 5 oranges. Wow! I decided not to sterilize or seal the jars, as I'm assuming it will disappear quickly nonetheless. My new goal is to make jam, preserves, butters, and marmalades from whatever fruit is in season -- sorry Smuckers, but I think homemade is more smucker-licious!