Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Well-preserved

I could only keep half an eye on all the interesting things happening yesterday, following the big meeting in San Joaquin, because I was caught up in a new favourite pastime: making marmalade. Since I discovered how little cooking goes into making marmalade, I've been keen to try out new recipes. Of course, the build-up to the cooking is backbreakingly labour-intensive, but I can't resist making the stuff, because it's so attractive when it's done.

Last month I started off with some Seville oranges, and made a nice orange marmalade (with one lemon thrown in), following the recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook. A few weeks ago, I found an English cookbook for jams and marmalades - the English really are big marmalade fans, and have lots of recipes. I wanted to try kumquat marmalade, but the kumquat season is only a week or so, and they disappeared from the stores before I had a chance to buy any. However, limes are quite cheap right now, so I made lime marmalade. I used the recipe in the English book for the quantities of fruit and sugar, but then I followed the Betty Crocker recipe, because it uses Certo pectin. The other one is very traditional, and tells you to make your own pectin, by putting the seeds and the pith into a muslin bag and boiling it then squeezing it, etc. Forget that. If I'm going to spend hours scraping the pith off the peels, I'm going to save a little extra effort where I can (besides, these limes didn't even HAVE any seeds - go figure).

It turned out BEAUTIFULLY, a lovely pale green colour with darker peel. I wish it had been a little more vivid, closer to a mint jelly, but this is very nice. And it tastes wonderful, with a really sharp tang of lime.

What I really want to make now is a blood orange marmalade, but blood oranges only come around in December, and we haven't seen any yet. I could either make the marmalade entirely from blood oranges, which would make it a sort of cranberry colour, because of the juice. OR, I could make a regular light orange marmalade from Seville oranges, and throw in two blood oranges PEELS - that would give me a light orange jelly with pieces of dark red peel mixed in and suspended, which would be even prettier. It all depends on finding the blood oranges, though.

Meanwhile, here is a picture of my jam-making efforts so far: a jar each of orange marmalade, lime marmalade, currant jelly and damson plum jam. I made some applesauce in the fall, too, but it's not a photogenic. So we're all set for winter; my family will not starve.

5 Comments:

Blogger The Big Seester said...

Dr. Mabuse,

Why are they so much work? I looooove marmalade, but not the lame, overly sweet Smuckers variety. I'm halfway though a jar of 3-fruit marmalade (orange, lemon, garpefruit) and I just got a lemon-lime and an orange-tangerine (but I'll only open one at a time).

If I could make them at home, that would be SWELL!!

TBS

2:40 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

The work comes from getting the part of the peel that you can actually use. It's really only the thin coloured rind that's any good - the white layer underneath is bitter. So you have to first peel the fruit, then use a knife to scrape or cut away all that white stuff, until you're left with just the coloured part. The English sometimes go ahead and make their marmalade with the whole peel, white part included, but then you have bitter marmalade - some people like that, but I find a little of it is all I can take. Oh, and you also have to get rid of all the membrane and the seeds in the fruit, once you've taken off the peel. I still haven't figured out an efficient way of doing that - I pretty much ended up just shredding it with my fingers, and throwing out the waste materials. Since I make quilts, I'm used to tiny, fiddly little jobs, but once you start making marmalade, you have to stick with it to the END, you can't stop, so I was pretty tired by the time it was over.

2:49 pm  
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