Sunday, January 15, 2017

The "Food in Jars Mastery Challenge" - January: Marmalade

A couple of weeks ago, I pledged to join the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge, offered by the Marisa McClellan, author of some awesome canning cookbooks including one I own titled, "Food in Jars." In her challenge, there is a category for each month of 2017 and participants make that item by using the recipe of their choice in that category. I do a lot of canning anyway, but there were a few categories that I haven't yet experimented with, so I joined the challenge.

To start 2017, the January category was for marmalade. I have made jams and jellies, but to be honest I have ended up with more "syrups" than jams and jellies.  I recently discovered that I was reading the pectin instructions to literally where it says to not get the pectin too hot, so instead I was not ever getting the pectin hot ENOUGH.  Since I discovered that yes you can get the pectin too hot - but you can also get it not hot enough - I have had a couple of successful batches that actually turned out like jam. Anyway - I had not ever made marmalade and was excited for this month's challenge.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked on the Facebook group if anyone had any tips for making a low-sugar version of marmalade.  All of the recipes I had seen had anywhere between 4-6 cups of sugar for a pretty small batch, which just seemed like SO MUCH sugar to me.  Usually when I can fruit, I opt for reduced or low sugar recipes - after all, you are trying to eat fruit, not sugar.  We also are not fans of artificial sweetener in our house, so just trying to reduce the regular sugar in recipes works best for us. In the replies I received, there were some helpful co-participants insisting that I must use Pomona's Pectin for my low-sugar recipe. I found it on Amazon and placed my order. I also found a Kindle-version of the "Preserving with Pomona's Pectin" cookbook and purchased it as well.

Today was the day to give this a try! I had some somewhat tired cutie tangerines in my fridge, and bought 3 navel oranges at the grocery store.  I followed the "Simple Classic: Orange Marmalade" recipe from the "Preserving with Pomona's Pectin" book, which basically had 6 cups of fruit/water to 2.5 cups of sugar (and the other stuff like lemon juice and pectin.)  While it's still sugar, this is a much healthier ratio for this low-sugar girl!

First, I washed the oranges and tangerines well with some hot water and vinegar.  I would rather use organic ones since the rind is used, but I didn't have those available to me so I just washed them well. Then, I cut all of the white pith off the orange and tangerine flesh and scraped it off the rinds.  I sliced the rinds from about half of the oranges and tangerines into small strips, and everything went into the stainless steel pot to come to a boil and then simmer (covered) for 20 minutes.






After it was done simmering for 20 minutes, I measured it to make sure it was 6 cups.  At this point it measured in at only 5 cups, so I added two heaping tablespoons of 100% orange juice concentrate and a cup of water to equal the 6 cups.  I don't know if this is a recommended practice, but I was comfortable with it and it's what I did.  At this part of the process was when the recipe had me add the lemon juice, calcium water (part of the Pomona's Pectin box), and the pectin and sugar.  Once it came back to a boil as I continued stirring, I turned it off and it was ready to go in the sterilized jars!

The marmalade gave me 8 half-pint jelly jars.  I had seen  another participant post last week about making an Orange Pepper Marmalade to be used for orange chicken sauce, and I wanted to give it a try.  But, I also didn't want to make an entire batch not knowing if we would like it - so I put hot pepper flakes (really hot pepper flakes, from Thai Peppers that I dried from our garden and ground up) into two of the jars.  I left the other 6 jars plain.

My pretties then hot water bathed in my trusty canning pot for 10 minutes, and then I pulled them out and covered them with towels. It is always so hard for me to leave them alone and let them cool!  They appear to be setting up nicely!