Canning Sunshine

marmalade on muffinSeems I managed to while away one of the most glorious, sunny, warm weekends we’ve enjoyed in a long time, indoors, an apron tied around my neck.

Luckily, our kitchen windows offer a peek out at the apricot tree in full leaf, a few blossoms clinging to the sour cherry, and the first fruit poking out from the end of the fig’s graceful branch. Spring is in the air, and with it the promise of fruit continuing straight through Autumn.

After dropping off my Cherry-Chocolate Chunk Cookies at Bakesale for Japan headquarters at Pizzaiolo in Oakland, crafting a few origami cranes, and bringing home a boatload of sweets for dinner guests, I got started on my Saturday project, which ended up engulfing most of Sunday, too. I am now equipped with rays of sunshine to take me through the next couple of brisk months, the San Francisco Bay Area’s excuse for Spring and Summer.

Cherry-Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Climate change notwithstanding, our summer weather doesn’t come until August, or sometimes September, which along with much of October is about the only time you might think of going to the beach in shorts and sandals. Swimming in the ocean or the Bay? Even at peak heat we leave that to the SF Dolphin Club, whose Polar Bear designation rests on racking up no fewer than 40 swim miles in the frigid Bay between December 21 and March 21.

Back on land, sunshine arrived in my kitchen via Michael Piazza of the blog Sadie’s Table, which I learned about on Rachel Saunder’s Facebook page for her Blue Chair Jam Cookbook.

I did some tweaking to suit my own taste—adding grapefruit and tangelos, doubling Piazza’s Campari quotient, and cutting the cardamom in half for a nuance that’s almost impossible to identify. Beyond that, and whatever adjustments Piazza made, all the credit goes to Rachel. Not only does she make beautiful, inspired jams and marmalades, she also has developed a method that turned out the best marmalade I have ever made, and quite likely that I have ever eaten. Hats off to Rachel! And to Michael for his compelling blog and post.

I am now duly prepared to head off to Sicily in a couple of weeks, secure in knowing the taste of the Sicilian sun will be waiting in my fridge when I return. No need to lug home a suitcase full of jars. Well, but those Sicilian lemons …

Citrus Campari MarmaladeThis recipe is adapted from Michael Piazza’s adaptation of a recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook. Note that in addition to adjustments in the ingredients. I’ve changed some details of Rachel’s method to reflect the way I made the marmalade. This is still largely her recipe, but I can’t say whether she’d approve of the way I’ve interpreted it!

For the citrus, I used six Seville oranges, three medium pink grapefruits, three Mineola tangelos, and two Eureka lemons. You will need two days in succession to make the marmalade, about three and a half hours the first day and an hour and a half to two the second to finish, pack, and process. What you don’t need is a canning kettle and rack for processing—Rachel’s oven method works perfectly.

You will need about 12 eight-ounce or 16 six-ounce glass canning jars with metal lids and rings. The jars may be previously used; wash them in hot, soapy water or run them through the dishwasher. The rings can also be used. Always use new lids. Wash the rings and lids in hot, soapy water; do not run them through the dishwasher.

fruit wedges

cooking the fruit wedges

fruit slices

while the wedges cooks, cut the remaining fruit into slices

 

Citrus Campari Marmalade
 
For the citrus, I used six Seville oranges, three medium pink grapefruits, three Mineola tangelos, and two Eureka lemons. You will need two days in succession to make the marmalade, about three and a half hours the first day and an hour and a half to two the second to finish, pack, and process. What you don’t need is a canning kettle and rack for processing—Rachel’s oven method works perfectly.
Author:
Makes: about 12 eight-ounce jars
What You'll Need
  • 6 pounds citrus fruit
  • ½ cup Campari
  • 4 pounds white cane sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons green cardamom pods, crushed lightly in a mortar to release their seeds
What To Do
  1. Day 1
  2. Juice 3 to 4 pieces of fruit (I used 1 grapefruit, 1 orange, and 1 tangelo), strain, and measure to make ¾ cup of juice. Add the Campari. Refrigerate the juice mixture in a tightly covered clean glass jar; you’ll need it tomorrow.
  3. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh out 2 pounds of the fruits. (For me, that was 1 grapefruit, 2 oranges, 1 tangelo, and the 2 lemons.) Cut the oranges and tangelos into quarters, then cut each piece in half to make 8 wedges per piece of fruit. Cut the other fruits into wedges of approximately the same size. This doesn’t need to be precise.
  4. Place the fruit wedges into a large nonreactive saucepan and add cool water until it covers the fruit by 1 inch when you gently press down on the fruit (otherwise it will float). Bring the fruit and water to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and cook at a lively simmer, covered, for 3 hours. Stir the fruit every 30 minutes or so, adding a little more water if needed to keep the fruit covered.
  5. While the fruit wedges cook, cut the rest of the fruits in half across the equator, then cut each half into 4 wedges. For the grapefruits, cut each half into 8 wedges. Cut each wedge into slices. (How thin you cut the slices depends on how you like your marmalade. Between ¼- and ⅛-inch-thick worked for me.)
  6. Put the fruit slices into a large stainless steel or other nonreactive pot and cover generously with cool water. (You will be adding everything else to this pot tomorrow, so use the largest one you’ve got. Wider is better than deeper for rapid evaporation during tomorrow’s boiling, but either will work.) Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and cook at a lively simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, discarding the liquid.
  7. Return the fruit slices to the kettle and cover with 1 inch of cool water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and cook at a lively simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Stir the fruit gently every 30 minutes or so as it cooks, adding a little water if needed to keep the fruit covered. Remove the pan from the heat and leave covered at room temperature overnight.
  8. After the fruit wedges have cooked for 3 hours, set a medium-mesh strainer or colander over a large bowl or nonreactive pot big enough to hold all the liquid in the pot. Pour the fruit and liquid through the strainer. Cover the entire setup with plastic film and leave to drip overnight at room temperature.
  9. Day 2
  10. Place a saucer with five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer. These will be used to determine when the marmalade is set and ready to bottle.
  11. Preheat the oven to 250˚F with racks set several inches apart. Lay out your clean jars, lids, and rings on rimmed baking sheets and put them into the oven to sterilize while you finish the marmalade.
  12. Remove the plastic from the fruit in the strainer and discard the fruit. Strain the juice through a fine-mesh strainer or a strainer lined with cheesecloth into the large pot with the fruit slices. Add the sugar and the reserved juice-Campari mixture. Stir well with a heat-proof spatula to dissolve the sugar. Put the crushed cardamom into a fine-mesh stainless-steel tea infuser and hang it over the edge of the pot so that it is submerged. (Alternatively, you can drop it in and push it under the liquid.)
  13. Bring the marmalade mixture to a boil over high heat and continue to cook at a rapid boil until the setting point is reached, adjusting the temperature to keep it as hot as possible without boiling. The cooking time can range from about 20 minutes if you are using a wide pot to about 45 minutes for a taller one.
  14. Watch for the mixture to initially bubble gently for several minutes; avoid stirring during this time. After it begins to foam, stir the marmalade gently every few minutes with a heatproof rubber spatula, stirring it more frequently to prevent burning as it gets close to being done. Decrease the heat a bit if it threatens to burn.
  15. The marmalade is ready to begin testing when the color darkens and the bubbles become very small and frothy. To test the marmalade, remove a spoon from the freezer and use the spatula to stir and dribble half a spoonful of liquid from the pot onto the spoon. It should look shiny, with tiny bubbles throughout. Put the spoon back in the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and feel the underside of the spoon. If it is still warm, return it to the freezer for another 30 seconds. Tilt the spoon vertically over a saucer; if it runs off the spoon it’s not ready. If it’s very runny, try again in 15 minutes. If just a bit runny, try again in just a few minutes. The marmalade is ready when it no longer runs off the spoon when you test it, and the top layer has a thickened, jelly consistency when you poke it with your finger. Keep testing until it is ready.
  16. When the marmalade is ready turn off the heat but do not stir. Retrieve the tea-infuser. Use a stainless steel spoon or skimmer to skin off and discard any surface foam.
  17. Pull the baking sheet of sterilized jars from the oven and ladle the marmalade to fill them, leaving about ¼ inch of space at the top of the jar. Use a clean, damp cotton kitchen towel to carefully wipe the rims clean. (You can clean off drips on the sides later.) Center the lids over the jars (tongs are helpful in picking up the hot lids), then screw the rings over the lids just until slightly snug; you’ll tighten them later. Put the sheet pan of closed jars back into the 250˚ oven for 15 minutes to ensure they are sterilized, then set aside to cool.
  18. As the jars cool you may hear a popping sound as they seal. (I love that sound!) The jars are sealed when the little dimple in the center of the lid goes from being convex (bulging upward) to concave (dimpled downward). If any of the jars have not sealed after 24 hours, they should be processed again within 24 hours, or refrigerated as you would a jar you have already opened. Label the remaining jars, including the date, and store in a cool dark cupboard for up to a year. (I’ve often kept jams and jellies longer.)
  19. Refrigerate after opening.
Notes
Adapted from Michael Piazza’s adaptation of a recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders. Note that in addition to adjustments in the ingredients. I’ve changed some details of Rachel’s method to reflect the way I made the marmalade. This is still largely her recipe, but I can’t say whether she’d approve of the way I’ve interpreted it!
You will need about 12 eight-ounce or 16 six-ounce glass canning jars with metal lids and rings. The jars may be previously used; wash them in hot, soapy water or run them through the dishwasher. The rings can also be used. Always use new lids. Wash the rings and lids in hot, soapy water; do not run them through the dishwasher.

marmalade for breakfast

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