Sunday, February 24, 2008

Blood Orange Marmalade

As I've mentioned previously, I love blood oranges. When Thrifty's in Mill Bay had Buck Brand organic ones for sale, I knew I had to do something interesting with them.

My trusty, recently purchased food preservation bible Stocking Up: The Third Edition of America's Classic Preserving Guide
has a wonderful marmalade recipe, but I didn't even think to look there first! I found a blood orange marmalade recipe on the web, and decided to kind of merge the two together. I know, you're supposed to follow jam and preserve recipes exactly, but what the heck! But I did follow the boiling-water bath processing instructions in Stocking Up. I am lucky enough to have two enormous enameled metal water bath pots, each with racks, one that's Mom's and one from Dave's uncle Steve. As a result, I was able to process two layers of jars simultaneously. Bonus!

Blood Orange Marmalade

This recipe here resulted in seven (7) 250mL/half pint jars of somewhat loose marmalade. I'm sure that I'd have better results exclusively following the Stocking Up recipe, but I really liked elements of both that I wished to incorporate.

10 blood oranges (two were larger ones, 8 were very small - the online recipe calls for 7)
1 lemon
12 cups of water
approximately 1 cup of chopped fresh rosemary per two cups water (we have LOTS leftover in the freezer from a couple of years ago)
3 cups mild-flavoured honey (yes, honey - Stocking Up uses honey in all its jam & jelly recipes)

Bring water to boil (I did this in 4 cup stages), and pour over appropriate measure of chopped fresh rosemary (e.g. for 4 cups water, use 2 cups rosemary). Let steep for at least 20 minutes. Repeat until you've got 12 cups of rosemary infusion.

Slice citrus very thinly, and place into non-reactive (e.g. stainless steel, enameled metal) pot large enough to hold the mixture and allow for boiling, together with the rosemary infusion. Bring to a full boil, then reduce heat and cook at a simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and let sit, covered, overnight (we placed the pot outside on the veranda to keep cool).

Bring fruit mixture to a boil. Stir in honey. Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly, until mixture resembles a thick syrup (keep at a full rolling boil or it will take longer to reach the gel stage). In Stocking Up, this is supposed to take about 30 minutes. I think that we boiled for closer to 45 minutes altogether, and it probably still could have stood to be reduced a little further.

Pour into sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4" headspace, and seal. Process for 10 minutes in boiling-water bath. Stocking Up recommends allowing the marmalade to "age" two weeks before tasting or it might be too bitter. We couldn't wait, and yes, it's bitter, but it's SO GOOD! If you're not familiar with the "modern" method of boiling-water bath processing, I highly recommend that you learn about it before proceeding. Many sites/books don't usually suggest it for jellies, but the Rodale Stocking Up recommends this processing method for all preserves, jellies included. It's a sure-fire way to sterilize everything and have it last.

Crunchy Banana Breakfast Muffins - This morning I discovered that using 1/2 cup of no-fat vanilla yoghurt instead of 1/2 cup milk really makes these fluffy and moist, so I recommend the substitution. Also, I just purchased some silicone cupcake cups (12 of those were cheaper than a silicone muffin tin yielding only 6), which seem to work really well for baking muffins. Yes, they're somewhat annoying and futzy to clean, but they are easier to clean well than a metal muffin tin, and so much easier to decant the muffins from!

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