I’ve been intrigued by canning and preserving for a while, but never gotten around to it. Seeing some of the amazing preserves at the ATXSwappers we went to gave me the impetus to finally get going.
We really didn’t need that much extra equipment. We use a 5 or 6 quart pan to make the preserve since we’re only doing small batches right now, and we use our 12 quart pot with a steam basket to process and seal the jars. All we bought was a $7 “home preserving kit” that had the wide mouth funnel and the jar tongs that we needed, it also had a magnetic stick to pick up the lids and a non-reactive spatula that also included measurements on one end so you can measure the head space in the jar.
Then came the dilemma, what to preserve first? Winter in Texas is citrus season so a marmalade seemed the obvious choice, drawn by the colour more than anything we ended up with some blood oranges from Central Market. Next time, when we plan ahead enough we’ll get the fruit from the farmers market.
Looking up recipes a few people were adapting this recipe to blood oranges with some success so it seemed the way to go! It worked fairly well, though I have amendments for the next one we make. But I get ahead of myself.
The obvious place to start, is that I’ve already been asked several times the difference between jam and marmalade. Aside from one of them being the favourite of a certain bear found in a certain station in London *grins* I always thought that it was simply that marmalade was citrus based. After telling multiple people that this was the answer I head online and see that Blue Chair Fruit Company have answered the same question for me. Apparently there’s a little more to it than that, marmalade also has suspended pieces of fruit in it and can be a three day process.
Apparently there’s a far more complex way to make marmalade.. three days! Really? Oh well.. Now, I dislike the suspended pieces of fruit bit.. I’m just strange like that. So rather than cut the rind into strips I zested it with a microplane for really fine pieces of zest. Worked like a charm! I get the flavour without the huge chunks.
I stuck with my simple little recipe and zested my beautiful oranges (3lb thereof) along with two lemons (I just went with 2 regular lemons, blood oranges are sweeter than seville oranges so it didn’t need the sweetness from a meyer lemon). I juiced them all into a sieve, just using a simple wooden reamer, the sieve caught all the flesh and pith.
All the rinds, pith etc were put into a fine mesh bag and put in the pot that contains the zest and juice. Add 4 cups of water and boil for about 30 minutes until the rinds are soft. Pull the bag out and drain it, leave it to cool a little.
Once you can handle it squeeze and squeeze and squeeze, you’re extracting the pectin from the pith. It’s thick and pale, someone likened it to sour cream.
Measure out how much liquid is in the pot and add an appropriate amount of sugar. For the blood oranges I found 175g per cup of juice was a good amount. Start with less, once the sugar has dissolved you can taste the juice and add more if needed. Add in the pectin and bring to a boil. The pectin will look clumpy and nasty to start with, it will cook down.
You’re aiming for 220-222F, this is where the bigger pot comes in handy, as the water boils off it will bubble up practically filling the pot. It takes a while, I stirred regularly to stop it from sticking while it boiled.
While the juice is boiling get your jars ready. The 3lb of fruit gave me 4 and a half jars of marmalade – the 8oz half pint jars. I filled my pan with water, with the deep steamer basket in it. The jars were put in while it was still cold. Bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes to sanitise. It also brings the jars up to a good temperature so filling them with 200 degree liquid doesn’t give them heat shock and crack them.
The rest of my utensils and my jar lids were placed in the same sanitising solution we use when we’re brewing.
Lift the first jar out, empty the water back in the pan, and place on a towel next to the pan with the marmalade in. Put in the funnel and fill to within 1/4 inch of the top. Take out the funnel and make sure the rim is clean. Place on the lid and screw on the band, you want it secure enough to hold the lid down but not too tight.
Place it back in the water (with the heat turned off now) and repeat with all the jars. I didn’t heat process the half a jar, that sat on the side to cool then went into the fridge for immediate consumption. Once all the jars are filled and back in the pan make sure the water level is 2 inches over their tops and boil for 5 minutes.
Lift out and place on a towel or cooling rack, not touching. Take the bands off so they don’t rust on. They can be replaced loosely once their dried to prevent seal on the lid getting knocked and damaged.
Properly sealed the marmalade will keep for about a year though if anything seems to be growing, or the lid has bowed throw away, it’s been infected.
We’ve been particularly enjoying our marmalade on toast.
Next time I’m not going to boil the rinds, they’ll go straight into my compost heap and I’ll add liquid pectin (though I don’t know how to figure out how much), it just added too much of a pithy flavour.