While this recipe is a deliciously sticky, sweet yet bitter fruit spread similar to jam, conserve is distinct from jam in that it contains whole fruit – peel, pulp and all. Whether spread on hot-from-the oven toast, used as a glaze on roast chicken, served as a fruit tart filling, or, if you’re like us, by the spoonful straight from the jar, we love the sweet tang and burst of sunshine this conserve presents.
Makes about 4 cups
1 pound oranges
3 cups water
4 cups sugar
2 teaspoon dried lavender, crushed or coarsely ground
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
[Chef’s Note: Seville oranges are typically used in making orange marmalade, but we prefer a mix of blood and Valencia oranges; blood oranges to add a darker hue to mimic the lavender color, and Valencia because the rind isn’t as tough or bitter as Navel or juice oranges. If these oranges are out of season, use the freshest and sweetest you can find.]
Canning jars (optional)
Wash oranges thoroughly. Cut each in half; squeeze out the juice into a bowl and reserve. Slice the whole fruit, including the peel, very finely. Discard any seeds and pith.
Combine oranges, orange juice and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, cover and let stand overnight at room temperature for at least 12 hours and up to 24.
Return the pot to the stove, add the lavender and bring the pot to a boil again over medium-high heat. Cook uncovered until the liquid is reduced by half and the rinds are very tender, about 45 minutes. Slowly add sugar, stirring until each addition is dissolved and you’ve added all 4 cups. Bring the mixture back to a boil and cook rapidly, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the liquid starts to gel and becomes a thick syrup, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange liqueur.
Pour the mixture into sterilized snap-top canning jars or thick rubber containers and store, tightly sealed, in the refrigerator. If using the canning technique, seal immediately, allow to cool and set for 24 hours, then store in the refrigerator.
[Chef’s Note: Making marmalade is a very time consuming process, so plan in advance and do not attempt to complete all the steps in one day.
Conserve will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. If stored in tightly sealed sterilized canning jars, the conserve will keep for much longer, about 3 months.]
Spread onto warm, toasted bread or muffins for a succulent breakfast or afternoon treat, or incorporate into savory dishes as a glaze for meats or sweetener in a sauce.
Recipe and photo by Monica Glass