In my ongoing endeavor to mix things up in the kitchen, I signed up for another monthly challenge. The Tigress' Can Jam Food Blog Challenge! Each month, an ingredient will be posted and we have free reign to come up with interesting recipes to create and then can using a hot water bath canning method. In general, the Tigress is committed to local, fresh foods which I, of course, am as well. This seemed like a great opportunity to learn a new skill, make the most of local, fresh, in season foods (and not-so-local but in-season foods while we are in winter) and learn to be more self-sufficient.
Alas, I started off by scouring the interwebs for citrus canning recipes. There isn't a ton of variety out there and rather than get creative on the first month, I decided to play it safe. The bulk of recipes available seem to be preserved lemons of a sort and marmalades. The interesting part is the opportunity to play with the various kinds of citrus that are available this time of year - your basic run-of-the-mill citrus fruits and new-to-me varieties such as Cara Cara oranges, tangelos, pomelos and more.
I decided to go with a Meyer Lemon and Cara Cara Orange Marmalade that I found in the Washington Post (the same recipe is replicated on a few other sites as well I believe including a Pittsburgh paper whose link kept disappearing on me). Trader Joe's, my chief supplier these days, happened to have both Meyer lemons and Cara Cara oranges this week which was perfect.
The first step was to wash and cut up the fruit. First lesson learned: if you can avoid fruit with seeds, do. The oranges were seedless, but the lemons had lots of seeds and seedlets that kept popping up everywhere. Of course, fruit is supposed to have seeds and I'm generally against fruit that's engineered to be more convenient, so alas, there we are.
The pieces of fruit got chopped up in the food processor next, although the recipe calls for 1/4 inch pieces and I'm fairly sure my chopping job was more thorough. This was fine with me since I'm not really a traditional marmalade girl, but I'll see the effects once the jam is tasted. Next, the fruit bits are mixed with water and left at room temperature overnight.
Things got much more exciting the next morning. I heated the fruit mixture along with three cups of sugar until boiling and simmered away for about an hour. The recipe calls for 45 minutes, but I was a little bit timid with the heat at first and it took awhile for the fruit to thicken up.
While the fruit was cooking, the canning process got underway. I have to say that this project made me feel more successful than I have in awhile and it was very fun in a nerdy homesteader sort of way. I washed and dried three pint (16 ounce) glass mason jars and set them in very hot water using both my canning kettle (found here on Amazon) and a small dutch oven to sterilize them.
Once the marmalade (so called as it had now finally thickened to something resembling marmalade) was ready, I used my sweet canning funnel (the 5-piece canning set available on Amazon had everything I needed and was such a great help - I get no money for that recommendation. I'm just a happy customer.) to fill the jars. As the recipe claimed, it makes just enough (with a small bit extra) for 6 8 ounce jars or 3 16 ounce jars.
In order to make sure I was canning properly, I consulted both the directions to the canning kettle and my new bible, Putting Food By, which alerted me to the need to use dummy jars to fill out the rack in my kettle and protect the filled jars from underwater crashes. I also followed their process for the Boiling Water Bath and the timing from their Classic Orange Marmalade.
The processing of the jars is actually the easiest part of the whole process. Once the jars were filled and lids placed on tightly, I filled the rack (don't make my mistake and fill the rack outside the kettle - there was no disaster but apparently carrying jars in the rack is not a good idea) and submerged in near boiling water. As the water reached a boil, I set the timer for 5 minutes. And then, voila! My jars of marmalade were complete!
I haven't tried them yet as diving right in seemed to defeat the purpose of sealing them in jars that will keep for up to 3 years, and cooling them for 12-24 hours was suggested by the canning kettle instructions. I assure you, though, that I will have a post coming when I take my first taste!
Meyer Lemon-Cara Cara Orange Marmalade
Stored in a cool, dark place, unopened jars of this marmalade can last up to 3 years. Once the sealed jars have been opened, they can be refrigerated (with lids on) for up to 6 months.
Makes six 8-ounce jars or three 16-ounce jars
- 9 medium Meyer lemons, washed, cut into 16ths and seeded
- 3 medium (seedless) Cara Cara oranges, washed and cut into quarters (may substitute Valencia or thin-skinned oranges; see headnote)
- 1 cup water
- 3 cups sugar
- Wash jars, lids and bands in hot soapy water. Rinse well and set aside.
- Place lemon and orange pieces in the food processor. Pulse until they have been reduced to 1/4-inch pieces or preferred size.
- Transfer to a non-reactive bowl. Add 1 cup water and mix well. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight or up to 12 hours.
- Transfer the fruit mixture to a large pot; bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-high and add the sugar, stirring to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes, until thickened to a jam-like consistency. (Original author notes: the mixture will start off quite wet, then begin to thicken after 25 minutes or so.)
- While marmalade is cooking, place jars in hot water in a large pot or canning kettle and lids and bands in another pot of hot water. Keep them over medium heat, just before boiling, to sterilize. Note: both recipes I checked called for separate pots. I'm not sure if this is required or a vestige of not having enough room in pots. Seems like a good idea to me to just go with it.
- Pour marmalade evenly among the jars, leaving about 1/4 inch of head space at the top, using your canning funnel if you have one. Seal tightly.
- For canning, follow the instructions on your kettle/recipe. My canning kettle should have about four inches of hot, not boiling, water in the bottom. Place the jars in the rack using dummy jars of hot water to fill all empty spaces. Cover jars with more hot water. Boil for 5 minutes to process the jar. Time starts when the water is boiling.
- Remove jars and let sit on a towel to cool for 12-24 hours. As noted, these will last for up to 3 years if kept in a cool, dark place and will last for up to 6 months in the refrigerator after opening.
Adapted from Bonnie Shershow, of Bonnie's Jams in Cambridge, Mass. via The Washington Post, link above.