Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Adventures in marmalade

I had lots of oranges. I've committed to being more sustainable and self-sufficient in the kitchen. I bought a water-bath canning pot last August.

Put it all together and you get: Daisy's Adventures in making Orange Marmalade!

The idea kind of grew on me. I searched for a recipe and found one in the classic Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook that we received as a wedding gift 25 years ago. Nervous about making something so new, so out of my comfort zone, I read and reread the recipe and instructions several times.

I searched the house for the supplies and ingredients. I had everything except (are you ready for this?) the right kind of pectin. It called for liquid pectin, so I went to (of course) Fleet Farm, the only store I know with an entire aisle devoted to supplies for canning and preserving. Yes, they had my liquid pectin. I almost bought extra, but said to myself, "Self, you're going to do this right the first time. The next time you're going to use this product it'll be summer, so don't stock up now. It is January, after all." Please don't laugh; that snort? It's just not becoming.

So here I was with 4 medium oranges, 1 medium lemon, a little water, a little baking soda (why? it was in the recipe), a lot of sugar, and a pouch of liquid pectin.

Step 1:
Score orange and lemon peels into 4 lengthwise sections. Remove peels; scrape off white portion. Cut peels into very thin strips.
Oh, my goodness, this was tedious! There must be an easier way. Next time I might use my zester file, even though it'll leave the marmalade with tiny pieces instead of strips.
Combine peels, water, and baking soda. I still don't know what the baking soda did for this recipe, if anything. Marmalade doesn't rise, so.... never mind. Bring to boiling. Cover; simmer for 10 minutes. Do not drain. (Italics in recipe)
Remove membrane from fruit. Section fruits, reserving juices; discard seeds. Oh, my goodness, tedious? This step was almost as bad. I can't believe I complained so much, but I kept thinking, "there must be an easier way."
Add sectioned fruits and juices to peel. Return to boiling. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Okay, I can do this. In the meantime, I was on Twitter and Plurk asking for advice.

Measure 3 cups. I had just shy of three cups; I did it anyway. In an 8- to 10- quart kettle combine the 3 cups fruit mixture and sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil; boil, uncovered, 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in pectin. Skim off foam.

Then the water-bath canning began. This part was less traumatic than I'd feared. I ladled the marmalade into the half-pint jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space as directed. I wiped the jar rims clean and adjusted the lids. I processed in the boiling water bath for 15 minutes (actually 20 - is that okay?) and ended up with 6 lovely jars of marmalade. I followed advice on the pectin package and turned the jars upside down while cooling so the fruit wouldn't "float" and then flipped them right side up.

The result: The marmalade is too thin. Two days later (after the magic 48 hours) it still hasn't fully set. What now? One source suggests I can re-cook it. I'll look into it - I'd hate for all that scraping and de-membraning and the works to go to waste.

Any advice, foodie friends? Anyone? Anyone?

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5 Comments:

Blogger Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Heck, I have enough difficulty EATING marmalade, let alone thinking about MAKING it. Good luck!!!

1/20/2010 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Green Girl on this. All that work to make something that isn't really good? In general, though, I think you do FABU things with food, and I support your right to do this too. Me? - I'd just eat the oranges.

Jenny

HA - the verification word is toxan. Kind of like marmalade.

1/20/2010 10:35 AM  
Anonymous cityslipper (small kitchen garden) said...

A few thoughts:

1. Bravo! After the buildup, it must feel great to have gotten through the project.

2. In years of jelly-making, I've seen many thin batches of jam and preserves set up after three or four weeks in the jars... perhaps your marmalade will set up given more time.

3. In years of jelly-making, I've seen many thin batches of jam and preserves that never set up. On the other hand, I've never been truly disappointed. A "thin" raspberry jelly is a terrific sauce for ice cream, a great accent in a marinade, waffle syrup, flavoring in a cheesecake - or on one... Given this orientation, the question becomes: Does the runny marmalade taste good?

4. I've recooked jam and jelly to try to thicken it, and I wouldn't put a time limit on when you can do this. However, unless you get all scientific and use a candy thermometer, you're just guessing whether it will ever jell properly. (I've never used a candy thermometer for this... I've just taken my chances.) When you re-cook, you can add a touch more pectin, or a touch more sugar, or simply cook... or any combination of the three. All can result in a better set... but they may also result in runny marmalade or in marmalade that you need to cut with a spoon or knife.

What I love about making jams and jellies is that you almost always get a good result... and even if it's not what you expected, it tastes great!

1/20/2010 4:46 PM  
Blogger Murfomurf said...

I would recook, add a bit more pectin and boil it down slowly for a while to concentrate it more.I find that soaking a heap of pips overnight in a small amount of water or juice makes good natural pectin. I sometimes cut up the fruit, extract some pips, cover the fruit with the sugar overnight in the fridge while soaking the pips is a good method.

1/20/2010 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Healthwise, just eat the oranges.

For the joy of making it yourself -- that orange stuff might be great on pancakes. I love the idea of using it in a marinade. I'll bet it'd glaze sticky buns or fruit tarts. When I was baking, I poured warmed honey-marmalade syrup onto some cakes, and let it soak in before frosting, or glazing with ganache. Fat city. Glory in whatever you got, and the adventure of it. (and be glad you didn't make 12 jars)

1/21/2010 7:45 AM  

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