Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tigress Can Jam - marmalade

As soon as I saw that the produce to focus on for January was "citrus" I knew I'd be making marmalade. Actually, I'd be making marmalade anyway, since this is the right time of year for it...and marmalade is the perfect gateway drug for canning. It is so easy, requiring only the chosen form of organic* citrus, sugar, (and a bit of extra lemon juice). I like to make several kinds of marmalade each year, but they are all based on the recipe in the back of "How To Be A Domestic Goddess" by Nigella Lawson.

This year I started with some beautiful red Texas "Rio Star" grapefruit. The skins were deeply blushed red, so I knew that the marmalade would have a lovely color. I will be making some sweet Valencia orange marmalade with my dear friend Rois, and I'm hoping that my sister in Rancho Palos Verdes will have some ripe lemons on the trees in her backyard, and can send me some for lemon marmalade too. Wouldn't that be nifty, actual homegrown citrus! I am also waiting to see if my local grocery gets any organic Seville oranges in this year. Seville oranges are closer to the ancestral citrus, and are quite bitter, they make a splendid bittersweet marmalade that I think of as rather British, and like very much.

Before you begin, prepare your jars, rings and lids, and put one or two saucers in the freezer (for testing to see if the marmalade is "set"); I go ahead and boil the jars and rings in the canning kettle, then leave them sitting in the hot water while making the marmalade on the other burner.

Boil two grapefruit (1 3/4 lb) for 2 hours, until they're soft. Then drain away the water and slice thinly, chopping the insides up a bit (removing any large seeds), before returning it all to the pan, along with 2 1/4 lb sugar, and the juice of 2 lemons. Warm and stir till the sugar dissolves, then boil. The peel will become translucent. After 15 minutes or so, test for setting point. Place a teaspoon of the mixture on the plate, and leave for a minute. If the surface of the mixture creases when you push it, the marmalade is ready. Pour into clean jars, and water-bath process for 10 minutes.

I usually get about six to seven 8 oz jars from one recipe.

This recipe also works with an equivalent amount of oranges, or lemons, instead of the grapefruit. I tried once with limes, which was a mistake. Limes must need a different kind of process, perhaps one that involves repeated blanching rather than simple boiling, since even I, who like bitter-sweet marmalade, found that lime marmalade (made this way) was inedibly bitter. But every other citrus that I have tried has been easy-peasy and delicious, and since the citrus peels and pits are chock full of pectin, there is no worry about getting the texture right.

~ : ♥ : ~

I was in school, and the winters were a lot colder than they are here. My girlfriends and I would go out dancing on the weekends. The contrast between the crunch of snow under our boots and the warmth on the dance floor was enough to cause thermal shock...

* I should point out that for marmalade, or any foods where you will be eating the outside, it is very important that the produce be organic, since citrus peels are usually not eaten, conventionally grown ones are sprayed with all kinds of things not intended to be edible.

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