Archive for the 'preserves' Category

Meyer Lemon + Rhubarb Marmalade

meyer lemon rhubarb marmalade 1

Winter, meet spring.

meyer lemons

I recently discovered two large freezer bags full of chopped pink rhubarb in my deep freeze, and decided I should get rid of them to make room for a new haul, which considering the weather we’ve been having, is imminent. I haven’t been without a bag of Meyer lemons in my fridge since they became available earlier in the winter, and so was happy to find a recipe for marmalade combining the two in Marisa’s latest book, Preserving by the Pint.

sliced meyer lemons 2
sliced meyer lemons 3

You take your lemons and slice off the nubbly ends, cut them in sixths, then cut the pointy edge off the wedges, bringing the seeds along with them – these go into a tea ball or cheesecloth to simmer along with the fruit and provide pectin. My candy thermometer was lost to dishwater eons ago, but the marmalade still turned out perfectly-sweet and citrusy, not too acidic, with a slightly floral undertone.

sliced meyer lemons 4
meyer lemon marmalade 2

I’ll be honest – the straight-up Meyer lemon marmalade is pretty fab on its own. But the rhubarb brings its own tartness, and a beautiful shade of pink. Because mine was frozen it added a bit of water in the form of ice crystals, but all turned out well.

meyer lemon rhubarb Collage

I’ve chipped away at a chunk of the block of frozen rhubarb. At this rate, everyone I know will be getting a jar of marmalade. I think a batch of rhubarb chutney is next on the list.

meyer lemon rhubarb marmalade 4

Speaking of pretty in pink, I’m heading out to Jasper to an 80s pyjama party with MOLLY RINGWALD. My 15 year old self is DYING. Maybe I’ll bring her a jar of pink marmalade and we’ll wind up being besties. I’ll keep you posted!

meyer lemon rhubarb marmalade 5

Meyer Lemon + Rhubarb Marmalade

from Preserving by the Pint by Marisa McClellan.

1 lb Meyer lemons
3 cups sugar
1/2 lb rhubarb, finely chopped (about a cup)

Scrub the lemons, slice off both nubbly ends, and cut each into 6 wedges. Lay each wedge on its side and slice off the thick piece of membrane that runs down the middle of each lemon, along with any seeds. Place these bits into a square of cheesecloth, gather it into a bundle and tie with kitchen screen. (This will provide pectin to help your marmalade gel.) Put the lemon slices and the bundle into a bowl with 2 cups of water and pop into the fridge overnight.

When you’re ready to make marmalade, put the lemon mixture (including the bundle and water) into a pot along with the sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-25 minutes. If you have a candy thermometer, it should reach 220F – but I’ve been without one for awhile, and mine set beautifully. To be honest, I didn’t even time it that accurately.

Add the rhubarb and simmer for 5 minutes until it softens and turns your marmalade a pretty pink. Divide into clean, hot jars and process if you like for long-term storage; otherwise, the marmalade will last in the fridge for at least a couple months, and can be frozen.

Makes about 3 cups.

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March 13 2015 | preserves | 6 Comments »

Crabapple Jelly

apple plum jelly 2

There is a common misconception that crabapples aren’t good for much, merely because their size prohibits easy peeling and coring. And their name characterizes them unfairly.

(W used to call them “crap apples”.)

apples & plums

But in reality, having all the flavour and tartness of a full apple packed into such a condensed space is a good thing; and the fact that they are ripe and ready right at harvest time can’t be a coincidence. Loaded with flavour and pectin (especially the cores, so you don’t want to core them anyway), crabapples are delicious insurance that your jams and jellies will set, without buying and upending a packet of powdered stuff into your pot. Apple is delicious with berries, plums, or any other fruits you want to toss in – but there’s nothing wrong with straight-up crabapple, either.

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I happened to be gifted with a bucket of equally tart and tiny plums – crabplums – which were equally impossible to pit. And so they joined the party – a potful, covered with water, simmered until sludgy, then strained through a colander (or cheesecloth if you want a clearer jelly) and brought to a boil with sugar. You don’t need a particular quantity of crabapples – just whatever you manage to shake from your tree. And have a bag of sugar on hand.

apple plum jelly 3

People use jelly bags (or make them) to create a slow drip of pure, clear juice for their jellies – the rule is to not push or otherwise disrupt the solids, which will produce a cloudy (gasp!) jelly. I don’t particularly mind this, and tend to swish the apple mash around in the strainer to extract as much as possible. It’s lovely and pink. If you have a second pot, you can straight it directly into it.

What makes people most nervous about jam and jelly making is the setting. There are a few ways to go about this – you could boil it to 220F on a candy thermometer, or test it for the gelling stage by dripping some onto a plate in the freezer and pushing it with your finger to see if it wrinkles. My candy thermometer is packed away somewhere, and so I took the wait-and-see approach, and cooked it until it went from looking like bubbling juice to bubbling jam. The bubbles are thicker and slower, and the foam that rises to the surface turns dense and almost clumpy – don’t skim it off right away; it’s a good indicator that your jelly is done. When you pour it into jars, the surface will start to cool – pushing it with a spoon produces the same wrinkled effect you get by using your finger and a cold plate. You can see it starting to gel.

apple plum jelly 1

I don’t bother with the pressure canning process – jellies like this keep well in the fridge for months, and rather than push them to the back to be forgotten until next spring, when I decide it might be a good idea to clean out the fridge, I give away the surplus.

apple plum jelly 4

And if your jelly doesn’t set, just call it crabapple syrup – to drizzle over ice cream or cakes or into cocktails or tea – and it will still be delicious.

Crabapple Jelly

If you like, put a cinnamon stick or sprig of rosemary into your jars before pouring in the hot jelly.

lemon juice

Wash, stem and halve or quarter the apples into a large pot. (Don’t bother to peel or core them.) Add a few handfuls of black currants or cranberries or a few pitted and quartered plums, if you like. Add enough water to just cover them and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the apples are very soft.

Pour into a strainer or colander lined with cheesecloth (or use a jelly bag if you have one) set over a large bowl or pot, and let the juice drain out. Stir the pulp around a bit if you want to hurry it up – but any poking or prodding will result in a cloudy jelly. I don’t mind this, but you might. That’s cool.

Measure the resulting juice into a pot (this is easy if you drain it into a pot with measurements marked on the side) and add 3/4 cup sugar for every cup of juice. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil rapidly, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220°F on a candy thermometer, or until a small amount placed on a cold plate and put into the freezer wrinkles when you poke at it with your finger. This should take about 20 minutes.

While it’s still hot, pour the jelly into clean, hot jars, skim off any foam that rises to the top with a spoon, and seal with lids. Set aside to cool. (I find that if I use hot jelly and hot jars, straight from the dishwasher, they seal properly and I can store them for a long time, but this is not proper advice – so feel free to follow proper canning instructions.)

Makes as many jars as you like.

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October 08 2014 | preserves | 14 Comments »

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