Isn’t it wonderful that, right in the middle of dreary winter, nature gives us bright orange fruits rich in vitamin C to boost our immune system? Our family always take advantage of this wonderful fruit, which we're very lucky to get from the groves of Sicily – lush, crimson Tarocco Sicilian blood orange. In this season, in fact, I make freshly-squeezed orange juice for the kids every breakfast, and pack an orange (already peeled, because I'm such a good mamma … but mostly because I want to make sure they eat it!) with their lunches.
We also have a local variety, the pernambucco orange, which has a thick, fragrant peel and a more tart, fresh taste than most oranges. Whenever we get a gift of them from friends, we put both the fruit and the peel to good use (since they come from friends, we know the peel hasn't been treated with chemicals, which unfortunately isn't the case with most store-bought oranges). The peels are good candied or steeped to make aromatic liquor. Apart from just eating them, I juice the oranges to make our neighbor's orange cake from the war years. And fruit+peel combined make a wonderful marmalade, as I discovered this year.
Though I did follow a recipe I found online, I won't link to it because it didn't work at all. The recipe, in fact, said to chop and boil the oranges in water, and then let the mixture sit for up to a day. The water was unnecessary, I'm quite sure, and it made a very thin, runny marmalade, which I had to boil a long time to evaporate the excess liquid. I also added an apple, which is a natural thickening agent.
In the end, my marmalade turned out wonderfully. Maybe it was the extra boiling, or that apple. But I believe it was the unique taste of those pernambucco oranges - splashes of winter sunshine.