Cara Cara Chile Marmalade

These chiles will add a deep, nutty flavor to dishes and are great to use in salsas and sauces. It is a medium-hot chile that is good in soups, stews, sauces and sausage.

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2 and 1/4 lbs Cara Cara (or navel) oranges (about 4 medium)
1/2 cup (4 oz) lemon juice (or juice & zest from 2 medium lemons)
9 small dried red chiles (1/8 oz), stemmed and roughly chopped
Filtered water (see Options)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup tequila (optional)
1 and 3/4 lbs (3 and 3/4 cups) sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)


Day 1. Scrub oranges well. Slice about 1/8-inch off of stem and blossom ends (discard). Slice oranges in quarters, remove the middle, pithy seam, then slice each quarter in half (or in thirds, if very large) lengthwise. Slice each section cross-wise into thin strips, transferring fruit to a large measuring cup as you go (I measured a total of 6 and 1/2 cups orange slices) and trying to capture all of the juice.

Transfer orange slices, juice and lemon juice (+ zest if using) to a wide stockpot or preserving pan. Add an equal volume of filtered water (6 and 1/2 cups orange slices + 1/2 cup lemon juice = 7 cups added water). Add chiles and salt, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add tequila (if using), cover, and allow to cool at room temperature. Store the covered stockpot in the refrigerator overnight (or transfer to a bowl and cover).

Day 2. Bring fruit mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat (heat slowly if bringing an enameled cast iron pot from refrigerator). Simmer 10 minutes. Cover, allow to come to room temperature, then store refrigerated overnight.

Day 3. Prepare canner, jars and lids. Bring fruit mixture to a boil over high heat. Add sugar, stirring until it dissolves. Allow to boil vigorously, stirring minimally, until the marmalade reaches the set point: 220 degrees F on an accurate thermometer (or 8 degrees above the temperature of boiling water) this may take anywhere from 30 – 60 minutes (mine took about 60 minutes, although I added 2 extra cups of water and the tequila in the later stage of cooking). Remove from heat and allow marmalade to cool slightly for 2 – 3 minutes. Skim foam, push down fruit pieces, and ladle hot marmalade into hot jars to 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yields about 6 and 1/2 cups.