Food

Why Make Marmalade?

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Food

Why Make Marmalade?

  [caption id="attachment_66" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Grapefruit Marmalade - Ready for Toast"]Grapefruit Marmalade - Ready for Toast[/caption] Good question. Here's why I set aside two afternoons in cold weather, one to make Seville orange marmalade, the second to make grapefruit marmalade. Both these fruits make an excellent marmalade. The sourness of the juice and bitterness of the peel stand up like troopers to the quantity of sugar required to set the preserve. No need for added pectin to grapefruit or Seville oranges - the peel and seeds are full of the necessary setting force. In my experience, it would be difficult to make marmalade with either of these fruits that did not set. Another reason I like making preserve is the opportunity they offer for the cook to admire her handiwork. Vanity, yes I know. My pasta putttanesca may be gorgeous, but once it's in the bowls, it disappears in minutes. Baking is a bit better. A fresh rhubarb pie may last from the time it's cooled until the lucky guest takes the last slice home for breakfast. But marmalade, you have days, weeks, months, up to a year to feast your eyes on the product of your talents and foresight. On a practical and less vain note, jars of marmalade make good little presents, and unlike a lot of quirky fruit and vegetable combinations, are really opened and enjoyed by the giftees. I would happily have made Seville orange marmalade last Saturday when a cold sleety rain fell on the bank of snowdrops in the back yard. But the season for these bitter oranges is brief, and over. Grapefruit, on the other hand, especially the pinks and ruby reds are in season. They're big, heavy with juices and they make a beautiful warm golden-coloured marmalade. Alas, not pink or red, but burnished, none the less. dsc00638 Once you've spread grapefruit marmalade on your toast or croissant, you will be reluctant to go back to strawberry or apricot. (Well, maybe occasionally you can break the marmalade-only rule.) Grapefruit Marmalade 3 large ruby red or pink grapefruit, about 3 lb/1.5 kg 4 lemons 15 cups (3.75 L) cold water 12 cups (3 L) granulated sugar Scrub grapefruit and lemons in warm, sudsy water; rinse well. Cut out stem and blossom ends, and pare off any surface blemishes. Discard these trimmings.   [caption id="attachment_73" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Seeds and membranes in the cheesecloth pouch, the strained juice behind, and the grapefruit and lemon peel ready to slice thinly."]Seeds and membranes in the cheesecloth pouch, the strained juice behind, and the grapefruit and lemon peel ready to slice thinly.[/caption]     Halve grapefruit and lemons; squeeze out juice, reserving seeds separately. Using a spoon, scrape out and reserve all membranes from grapefruit and lemons. Loosely tie seeds and membranes in large double-thickness piece of cheesecloth. Place in large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add juices and set aside. Cut grapefruit and lemons into the thinnest possible slices, cutting slices into lengths no more than 2-inches (5 cm) long. To speed up this laborious task, I usually stack the lemon, then grapefruit halves, slicing through 3 or 4 at a time. Add to pot with water; stir gently and cover.   [caption id="attachment_74" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption=""]Slice peel as thinly as possible.[/caption]     Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Uncover and reduce heat so mixture simmers gently. From time to time press pouch to side of pan to extract its pectin-rich juices. Simmer until peel mashes easily with fingers, about 2 hours. Remove pouch; press to extract juices and transfer them back into the pan. dsc00650 Measure hot peel mixture; it should amount to 12 cups (3 L). If more, continue simmering until reduced to that amount. If less, make up the difference with water. Place 2 small plates in freeze to use later for testing setting point. Fill boiling water canner two-thirds full with water. Cover and heat until steaming; keep hot. Warm clean 1-cup (250 mL) canning jars in canner 10 minutes before filling with marmalade. Place new canning jar lids in bowl; cover with very hot, not boiling, water about 5 minutes before filling with marmalade. Keep screw bands handy; they don't need any special treatment.   [caption id="attachment_69" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="One of the most important pieces of equipment for preserving is the set of wide tongs in the front of the photo. They grip the jars safely when you're transporting them into and out of the boiling water canner."]One of the most important pieces of equipment for preserving is the set of wide tongs in the front of the photo. They grip the jars safely when you're transporting them into and out of the boiling water canner.[/caption]     In a large wide heavy-bottomed saucepan ( a Dutch oven is often the best choice), stir together 6 cups (1.5 L) of the peel mixture and 6 cups (1.5 L) of the sugar, mixing them thoroughly. Place over high heat and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring almost constantly. Continue boiling, uncovered and stirring almost constantly, until marmalade sets. This usually happens at the 10 to 15 minute mark. You will notice that as marmalade approaches its setting point, the colour deepens, the boiling bubbles increase in size and pop rather than seeth. The syrup clears. The boiling mixture reduces by about a third of its volume. These all help you to judge when the marmalade is reaching the set point. For the first few times you make marmalade, I recommend that you do your first test at about the 8 minute mark.   [caption id="attachment_70" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Nearing the setting point"]Nearing the setting point[/caption]     Remove the pan from heat; take one of the plates out of the freezer. Drop about 1 tsp (5 mL) of marmalade onto plate; let cool for 1 minute. Push finger through blob. If wrinkles appear on surface, the marmalade is set. If the blob is still syrupy, return pan to the heat and continue boiling until a successful wrinkle test has been arrived at. At each test, replace the plate in the freezer for future tests, alternating plates so the coldest one is always in action.   [caption id="attachment_71" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Using a funnel keeps the rims of the jars clean."]Using a funnel keeps the rims of the jars clean.[/caption]     Using funnel and 1/2 cup (125 mL) metal measuring cup, fill jars to within 1/4 inch 5 mm) of the top. Centre lids on jars and screw on bands until resistance is met. Increase to fingertip tight. Using canning tongs, place jars in rack in boiling water canner. Let rack down into the water; add boiling water if necessary so jars are covered by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) boiling water. Place cover on boiling water canner. Bring to boil; boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat under canner; uncover. Let jars stand in canner for 5 minutes. Lift rack, and with canning tongs, transfer jars to rack to cool. After 24 hours, check that lids have snapped down. Wipe jars; label. Store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year. Any jars that did not seal properly, i.e. their lids did not snap down, should be refrigerated and eaten up within 3 weeks. But note that is you used new lids, and your jars weren't nicked or cracked, you will rarely if ever have a jar the doesn't snap and seal. Repeat with remaining peel mixture and sugar. Makes about 12 (1-cup/250 mL) jars with a little taster jar for the cook. After all, you wouldn't want to give away any of your marmalade without knowing how good it tastes!
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Why Make Marmalade?

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