One can say that oranges hang from almost every corner of Dubrovnik. From private gardens to orchards, citrus fruits have found a welcoming home in this region. Lemons, grapefruits, oranges, mandarins, clementines, limes…the list of citrus fruits that enjoy the favorable climate of the Dubrovnik region is endless. A combination of the guaranteed Adriatic sunshine and the plentiful supply of clean, fresh water make Dubrovnik a haven for these bitter sweet bundles of joy. Among those, there is one fruit that rules the town: bitter oranges.
In my previous article, I wrote about the long tradition of using oranges in Dubrovnik cuisine. When they are in season, these fruits are consumed in large measures, but then there are jams, marmalades, candid peels, fruit juices, desserts, liquors and even Christmas decorations. Bitter oranges are quite similar to the sweet ones, but bitter orange has substantially higher acidity and a characteristic aroma of ground leaves. The bitter orange came to Europe in the 10th century, arrived in southern Italy 200 years later, and then made its way from Sicily to the Dubrovnik Republic, where this story begins. Today almost every garden has at least one tree of this native variety, which requires no chemical treatments. Homemade marmalade and liqueurs are common household items. Bitter orange is too sour to eat directly from the tree, however it makes excellent jams and cakes. And if you search the streets of the Old City of Dubrovnik, you will even find bitter orange flavoured ice-cream. Arancini and orange marmalade are probably the two most famous food souvenirs you can bring home from Dubrovnik. In this recipe, I will show you how to make this delicious marmalade and how to store it.
In spite of the global food market, nothing compares to the fresh taste of local foods. And there’s no better way to safely capture those flavours than home canning. How to sterilize jars for canning? There are several ways to do this, but this is a simple one and it works really well with fruit marmalades. Water bath canning is a shorter, lower-temperature canning process that is ideal for high-acid foods. The high acidity of the foods kills bacteria, allowing for the water bath method. Types of fruits and vegetables ideal for water bath preserving, include fruits, marmalades and jellies, salsas, pickles and relishes, chutneys, condiments. Heat the oven to 140C. Wash the jars in hot, soapy water, then rinse well. Place the jars on a baking sheet and put them in the oven to dry completely. Spoon marmalade into the hot jars. It’s important that mix is still hot when filling the jars.
- 4 bitter oranges (you can also use regular sweet variety)
- 100 ml orange juice
- 500 g sugar
If you are using store-bought oranges, put them in a pan filled with salted water and leave overnight. Wash and peel oranges and remove as much of the white part as you can (it is bitter) and slice them. Combine with sugar and cook on low heat. When it starts to thicken, add orange juice (freshly squeezed). Cook until it reaches the marmalade consistency and pour into sterilized jars.