Sunday, May 29, 2011

When life gives you four oranges and two lemons, make marmalade

Like most Chicagoans today, high winds and torrential rain have kept me in doors. Even though the sun doesn't appear to be complying with my four-day weekend plans, I decided to put a little sunshine into my life by using some fruit to make marmalade.

Perhaps it's the Laura Ingalls in me, but I find canning preserves to be almost zen-like. Here's the end result:

Don't be surprised if you get one of these for Christmas 2011. 
Here's the recipe if you're feeling ambitious and have canning supplies at your disposal:

4 oranges
2 lemons
2 1/2 cups water
1/8 tsp baking soda
6 1/2 cups of sugar
1 package of pectin
1 pat of butter
6 eight-ounce jelly jars with bands and new seals

I'm presuming you know how to sterilize your own jars and lids. If you need a refresher, head to here for detailed instructions.

1. Wash the oranges and lemons. Quarter the fruit with a knife. Remove the rinds. Set the fruit aside in a bowl.

Clean fruit...yeah!
Now comes the hard part.

2. Remove the albedo with a spoon (also called the pith; it's the white bitter part). It's ok to leave a little (you do want the marmalade to have a slight bittersweet edge)

3. Slice the rinds first into thin strips and then chop them. I vary the size of the rind pieces (sure, they don't uniformly cook, but people can tell it's homemade).

4. In a large pot, combine the water and baking soda and stir until the baking soda is dissolved. Add the rinds. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and put a lid on the pot. Allow it to bubble for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring.

5. Chop the fruit, discarding any seeds and reserving all the juice. Add the fruit to the rind mix and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and cover again.  Cook an additional 10 minutes.

6. Add the pectin and butter to the pot. In case you didn't know, the butter reducing foaming. Bring to a hard boil and then cook for 1 minute.

7. Add the sugar (one cup at a time) to the mix. Stir the mix constantly and bring it to a boil. Let it boil for 1 minute.

8. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

9. Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 cap from the top of the jar.

10. Place lids and bands on jars and tighten. Places jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

11. Remove from water bath and allow to cool 24 hours. Check the seals by pressing your finger in the center of the lid. If it springs back, the jar didn't seal properly.

Properly sealed jars should last anywhere from 8-12 months if you store them in a cool, dark place.

The marmalade makes an excellent baste for a whole chicken, by the way. Happy cooking!

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