We live in a blessed place and have the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of fruits in every season. But we also live in a place with enormous gastronomic tradition, which taught us that whatever nature gives us can be enjoyed in many ways, such as with fruit that can be made into delicious sweets and jams.
You see, in the old days housewives were also good pastry chefs and especially Eastern Cretan housewives are renowned for their wide variety of sweets. I am not saying this to brag about my own place but it is well known that each place has its own specialties and each place has something different to offer.
In my village, the ‘sweetness of the spoon’ as you usually call fruit sweets and jams was in every home. The old housewives were unbeatable in these sweets and filled their glass jars, locked in a cupboard. To tell you the truth when we were young children we knew that our grandmother kept them and all we were looking for was a small teaspoon to 'steal' our beloved sweet. When she got wind of it, Grandma knew who the "robbers" were.
At that time there were no pastry shops in the villages, and they probably didn't need it because every housewife made sure to have her own sweets all year long. In the spoon sweets and jams made from them, there was no recipe written in a notebook but they fixed them from memory. "I, my child, have it in my head." That's what my grandmothers and old housewives told me. This is how they learned their dances and even "stitches" in their embroidery.
And now that it's winter and oranges are ripe, it's time to make a jam, not so much for me but for my sons. It is sweet and tempting. Tempt yourself to make your own homemade orange jam, now that it's time.
Sugar (for every 1 kg of orange pulp, 800g sugar)
½ teaspoon vanilla
Juice of 1 lemon
Wash the oranges thoroughly and wipe with a towel to get rid of the moisture. Grate the oranges in the fine grater (do not throw away the zest because I have a recipe for orange liqueur soon) and put them in a pan with plenty of water. Boil for 5 minutes, pour the water away and leave the oranges in a strainer to cool.
Cut the oranges and remove the stalks and any pips. Blend the oranges into pieces in the blender until it becomes a thick paste. (If you want your jam to become velvety, mix very well. I personally like the orange bits and don't blend it a lot.)
Weigh the paste and pour into a large saucepan, add the vanilla and sugar, for each 1 kg of orange pulp, add 800g sugar.
Boil for 10 minutes over medium heat and whisk when needed. Reduce the temperature to half and cook for another 15-20 minutes, stirring the jam occasionally with a wooden spoon. Especially in the last ten minutes, you have to be careful and may have to stir constantly. Just before you remove it from the heat add the lemon.
Check if our jam is ready by putting a tablespoon on a clean plate. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes. In the middle draw a line with a spoon or finger. If the jam doesn't run back together, it's ready.
Store the jam in sterile jars. (See here how to sterilize jars).
Do the saucer test when you have lowered the pan from the heat.
If the jam is too runny, boil for another 5-10 minutes.
If the jam is too stiff, add some orange juice or water mix and let it boil.