Sunshine Jelly, with or without blood oranges, tastes like jelled sunshine.
It’s been a gift to me that my mom is a
cheapskate frugal cook.
My mom taught me not to buy something if I can get it cheaper or make it myself. She taught me to shop the sales, and never to buy garlic salt—”Salt is cheap! Don’t pay garlic money for a container half full of salt!” So I was ripe for the picking when a wave of DIY sensibility swept my social circles in the ’80s and early ’90s. For a summer, I lived on a farm in upstate New York, helping Laura Tobiason, the woman who owned the place, to can and freeze a metric butt-ton of applesauce, peaches, nectarines, green beans, wax beans, and so on.
When I returned home, I was more ready than ever to turn my decent cooking skills into homesteading ones, even though it would be nearly twenty years before I would even learn the word “homesteading”.
So there I was, living in a communal-living house, trying to learn things I’d never learned from my mom, but with a spirit of foodie adventure that I got directly from her. I’ve told you about my bread bricks. We won’t talk about The Great Sauerkraut Debacle of ’92. But I dove in there and learned all I could about living a life heavy on the homemade, and light on the consumerist chaos being pushed at us all the time. I started reading anything I could find on self-sufficiency and simple living. I watched my housemate’s little baby thrive on just breast milk and rice cereal made at home by grinding our own brown rice (he must be 20 now; freaky!). I learned to bake bread, and sprout seeds, and cook some things for myself that most people I knew bought in the grocery store.
Among all these keen DIY skills, I gradually developed the ability to make jams, jellies, and preserves. I’d learned a little about canning on Laura’s farm, and the rest I picked up from the Ball Blue Book and, eventually, rec.food.preserving.
The jelly I return to most often is something I started calling “Sunshine Jelly” because of how beautiful and bright and yellow it is, and how it tastes like you found a way to jell up fresh sunlight. Officially, it’s called “Certo Citrus Jelly”. The recipe is at the Kraft/Certo site. They didn’t pay me to tell you about it; I just like the jelly.
It usually takes me more than 6 oranges to make 2 cups of juice. Sometimes, if I’m short on orange juice, I use a little juice made from concentrate to make up the difference. One time, in place of two of the oranges, I used blood oranges, and this beauty was born. Oh, my, the fuchsia delightment!
If you’re new to preserving, I recommend trying this easy, safe, brilliantly impressive-looking jelly.
And then give me some. I gave away my last jar.
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