Thursday, January 14, 2010

well preserved

Okay I did it. I finally “canned” something. I have been a little intimidated by the whole idea: the process, the equipment, as well as the whole bacteria thing. But actually, it wasn’t that bad. I followed each step carefully and ended up with something that is so good, it is actually “blog worthy.”

Most of us probably remember our mothers or grandmothers painstakingly canning tomatoes or pickles outside on a sweltering summer day so they’d be able to grab them from the basement or pantry come winter. But seriously, “who still does this?” I thought. Honestly, I never thought I would ever want to “can” something. But when I found Eugenia Bones' book last spring, she inspired me. Her recipes are updated for the palate of today with things like: strawberry balsamic jam, pear, port and thyme conserve or figs in brandy. Or on the more savory side stewed onions with marjoram, zucchini flower sauce and marinated baby artichokes. I was hooked.

No more putting it off, it was time.

Her recipe for Three-Citrus Marmalade looked so tasty, and since Meyer lemons and Blood oranges are in season right now it seemed as good a time as any to jump right in and bite the bullet. This marmalade is wonderful on scones and toast or warmed up and poured over vanilla ice cream or toasted cake, but because it is not too sweet, this marmalade would be terrific with cooked fish, poultry or even pork.

So if you’ve been considering the possibility of trying your hand at canning, I would encourage you to do so. There are many great resources out there that will take you through the process step by step. And the satisfaction of being able to take the seasons’ delicious bounty to savor later in the year is totally worth it, as well as never again having to open your cupboard or refrigerator and lament that there’s “nothing to eat!” Instead, you’ll be whipping up the seasons’ best meals all year long.


Three-Citrus Marmalade
From Eugenia Bones’ book Well Preserved

1 grapefruit (red preferred)
3 oranges (blood or Honeybell)
3 Meyer lemons
5 cups sugar
½ tsp. unsalted butter

Peel the skin off the fruit in as big pieces as you can use your hands or a paring knife. Cut most of the white pith off the peels of 1 orange and 2 lemons by scraping it away with a paring knife. Discard the remaining peels or save for other uses. Cut away any pith remaining on the peeled fruits. It’s okay if you don’t get all the pith off the fruit and rind.

Cut the reserved rinds into little matchsticks. You should have about 1 cup.

Cut the fruit in half along the equator and pop the seeds out with the tip of a paring knife. Grind the fruit in a food processor to a chunky pulp. There should be about 5 cups. But measure the pulp you have, as there can be some variation in the amount of pulp a piece of fruit produces, and you will have to adjust the amount of sugar you add accordingly: 1 cup sugar for every 1 cup of pulp.

In a medium pot, cover the silvered rinds with 3 cups of water. Cook over medium heat until the rinds are tender, about 25 minutes. Do not drain. Cool, then add the pulp and let it rest for 2 hours, covered in the fridge. (I did this the day before)

Transfer the pulp, the rinds, and their cooking water to a large, wide heavy pot. Add the sugar and the butter. (the butter help keep the marmalade from foaming up, although it will still foam up some.)

Cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes until it reaches 220°. It must reach this temperature to jell properly. (mine took much longer, more like an hour) If you have a candy thermometer, simply stick it in the hot marmalade and let it rest against the side of the pot.

While the jam is cooking away, bring 4 half-pint jars to a boil in a large pot of water fitted with a rack. Boil for 10 minutes to kill any bacteria. Remove the jars with tongs (the tongs don’t need to be sterilized). Simmer new lids in a small pan of hot water to soften the rubberized flange. When the jars are dry but still hot, pour in the marmalade, leaving ½ to ¾ inch of headspace at the top of each jar. Wipe the rims, set on the lids, and screw on the bands finger tip tight.

Place the jars in a pot fitted with a rack and add enough water to cover the jars by 3 inches. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Process the marmalade for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and, after about 5 minutes, remove the jars. The marmalade will seem runny at first. It’s okay. It will thicken up as it cools. You will hear a popping noise as the vacuum is created in the jars. Allow the jars to sit, untouched, for 4 to 6 hours. When they are cool, test the seals. (You can test a seal by unscrewing the band and lifting the jar by the edges of the lid. If you can lift the jar, the seal is good. If the lid comes off the seal has failed and you must reprocess the jars with new lids. Don’t worry though; the failure rate is really quite low.)

Store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.

1 comment:

  1. Brava, for tackling canning. This is something that I have always wanted to do, but I was afraid. It's nice to know that it's not a total nightmare.