In Between by Kelly Sears

I was in search of a recipe the other day: something seasonal, fresh, inspirational. A struggle! We may have sprung forward on the clock, but in the market, we are in limbo. It’s the time of year when you can’t bear to roast another squash, and we wait for the soil to make way for the sprouts pushing their shoots up from below.

It’s the time of year when you’re not sure which coat to wear; has wool’s time passed? Can I take the snow brush out of my car? Is it too early to trade out the snow blower for the lawn mower? On Monday it’s 33 degrees and sleeting, by Wednesday, it’s 60 and sunny, and by Friday it’s gloomy and 38 again. Ah the Midwest!

The seasonal changes come at us in runners’ distances. Fall is a short 5K into winter and winter is a long grueling, 13.1-week half-marathon. Spring jogs a nice paced 10k into summer and summer is a wind sprint until the whole race starts all over again. We clutch the seasons and the farm bounty they yield.

As summer nears to a close, we spend weekends in the hot sun picking berries for freezing; we simmer peaches gently into jam. We pickle, we preserve, we eat too many tomatoes, all in hopes of hanging on to summer. By fall, we start snatching apples off the orchard’s trees; we harvest fall squash in too many varieties to count. We wear socks again.

By winter, we bundle up. It takes longer to get ready to go outside than the time we are actually outside, we roast brussels sprouts by the dozens, and include pumpkin in everything from coffee to desserts. We long braise pot roasts and Dutch oven day-long stews.

By mid to late March, the daylight is longer, the sun a little bit warmer. Stalks of tender asparagus, early spring peas, the sweet juice of the first strawberries, and the tart in red rhubarb are on our minds, not yet our plates. It’s funny that this time of year is Spring Break. We don’t need a break from spring, we need a break from winter as we long for spring!

There is one bright spot in winter, citrus. Mother Nature’s reward to dark and gloomy are the sunny globes of sweetness. Spicy, red-fleshed blood oranges, “eating orange” navels, ruby-red Cara Cara, best juice making Valencia, and the lemon and tangerine hybrid, Meyer Lemons are all seasonal during the coldest months of the year.

We think nothing of saving other seasons as they rush to their finale; blueberry jam, garden-fresh sauce, applesauce, pureed squash, why not save a bit of sunshine so rare to winter. Orange marmalade is bright, fresh and almost sunny when sitting on a shelf or in the refrigerator.

The most classic of all marmalades is made from bitter Seville oranges, a bit harder to come by than other varieties. I prefer to make mine with a mix of orange varieties and toss a couple of lemons in for good pucker.

What to do with this delightful batch of marmalade? Winter’s jam is more than just a slather on toast. Paired with golden honey, dried fruits, mustards, charcuterie and tangy blue, marmalade finishes a cheese board with the perfect combination of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. A feast for the senses!

Jazz up your yogurt, swirl into oatmeal, bake it with brie. Add a splash to your pan sauce for chicken, add a spoonful to vinaigrette. Top your pancakes or waffles, stuff French toast. Melt it into a glaze for your Easter ham, spread a thin layer in a crepe, or dollop a spoonful on panna cotta.

Personally, I love marmalade on a grilled cheese. Buttery sourdough grilled just enough to crisp the exterior, melt the cheese, and warm the spread yielding the perfect ooze when pulled apart or sliced in half.

As we take our break from winter and anticipate spring, capture orange goodness. This recipe yields enough for you to enjoy and enough share. Spread a jar of sunshine.

You can marmalade quickly, and just as tasty in the pressure cooker or instant pot. Here are recipes for both cooking methods:

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