DIY Mom Food: Sunshine Jelly and Blood Orange Jelly

Sunshine Jelly, with or without blood oranges, tastes like jelled sunshine.

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It’s been a gift to me that my mom is a cheapskate frugal cook.

sunshine jelly

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!

blood orange jelly

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.

closeup of blood orange jelly

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Author: Serene

I run The Mom Food Project, which was born out of love for my mom and a desire to preserve the recipes of my childhood, which didn't actually exist in written form until I quizzed my mom and wrote the recipes down.

7 thoughts on “DIY Mom Food: Sunshine Jelly and Blood Orange Jelly”

  1. The colors of those jellies look amazing. I wish I had the knack for making my own jelly. I’m lucky enough to know someone who makes his own jelly. Did I mention fruit from his own trees? Yum is all I can say to describe homemade jelly.

    1. Wow, yum. The sunshine stuff is from our own trees, but we don’t grow blood oranges, sadly. This year, I’m hoping to make something from our fuji apples, which are small but yummy.

  2. Those are gorgeous! I’m always looking for a new jam or jelly recipe. I’m headed over to check out the recipe. It’s getting to be orange season and I think I may want to give this one a whirl. I already have marmelade on my list, but you can never have too much orange sweetness in the cupboard. :D

      1. I’ve only used one. It’s out of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. Super time consuming, but oh-so-worth it!

        And it tastes divine on fresh baked bread or scones. I’m drooling just thinking of it and I don’t have a single jar in my cupboard!

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