Tag Archives: canning

marmalade on cutting board

mixed citrus marmalade + thoughts on goals

My sister and I have an eight-hour record for one phone conversation. I know. It is a little extreme. I don’t even know how that was possible, and it was so long ago that I don’t quite remember the topics discussed. A couple of nights ago, we held another lengthy phone conversation, which turned into a Skype conversation. No new records were set, but we covered a lot of territory.

Over the course of about two and a half hours, we caught up on our daily happenings, shared a few tough stories, and even held a meet-and-greet for our cats. I’m so glad that we can be so open and silly with each other. Heather and I even completed some chores while chatting. She finished folding her laundry, and I managed to make some preserved lemons and Meyer lemon curd.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

– Chinese Proverb

Lately, both of us have felt compelled to do more of what we want to do, cultivate more confidence, and stop procrastinating the procrastination cycle. Together, we made lists of positive habits we desire in our lives, along with the action plans to accomplish them. One of our goals is a shared one: running a half-marathon this spring.

There’s something rather permanent, when you put a goal in writing. It is no longer just an idea. It is one step closer to a reality. So, we signed up for our races and made a pact to cheer each other on and hold each other accountable. To make it public, and seal the deal even further, I drafted a post on Facebook, cringed, and finally pressed “post.” It was out there. It was no longer a thought in my mind that could be rationalized away by fear or lethargy.

marmalade with citrus peels on cutting board

You might be asking, “What does this even have to do with marmalade!?

Marmalade is something I’ve always enjoyed and have wanted to master. I have messed up my last two batches of marmalade, and I seriously wanted to conquer this preserve. I needed redemption. Getting marmalade to set can be a challenge. Those last two batches were incredibly tasty but lacked a thicker consistency. They didn’t go unused, however. I used the thin marmalade as a glaze, an ice cream topping, an addition to yogurt and granola, and even a base for a cocktail.

I broke my losing streak and finally nailed a batch. Classic marmalade recipes call for Seville oranges, an acidic and bitter variety. Their seeds and pith provide a lot of pectin, which facilitates the setting of the marmalade. I can’t ever seem to find them, so I have always swapped the Sevilles for varieties that are less bitter and pithy, but I never made up for the lack of pectin. It finally made sense to me, and this time, I made the proper amendments. The resulting marmalade was delicious!

close-up of marmalade toast with tea and marmalade plate of toast with marmalade and tea tea with orange slices stack of toast with jar of marmalade

According to Marisa McClellan of the website, Food in Jars, there are three styles of marmalade: whole fruit, cut rind, and citrus jam. The method that I describe below is a cut rind method. This method requires removing the citrus pith by supreming and segmenting the citrus. Since removing these components decreases the amount of thickening pectin, it is important to make up for that loss by either adding purchased pectin or simply reserving the pith and seeds and infusing them, while cooking the marmalade.


mixed citrus marmalade


  • 4 pounds of oranges, any combination of blood orange or navel {depending up the size of the oranges, 7 or 8}
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice {about 2 large lemons}
  • 3 cups cane sugar
  1. Bring a large canning pot to a boil and sterilize your canning jars. For more detailed steps on the canning process, read this post by Kaela at Local Kitchen Blog. Also, place a small plate into your freezer. You’ll use this to test for proper setting later on.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peels of the oranges {kind of like zesting – you’re wanting just the orange part} in long ribbons. Stack several of the ribbons of peel and cut them width-wise to your desired thickness. I cut mine into 1/8″ strips. Set aside.
  3. Using a sharp knife, remove the outer white skins of the oranges and segment the oranges. Do this over a bowl to catch any juice that may drizzle out, and reserve the membranes, along with any pith or seeds. I found this video extremely enlightening.
  4. Take the orange segments, along with the peels, and place them in a large, wide preserving pan. I use my trusty Le Creuset 7 1/4 quart Dutch oven {it’s “red flame”, in case your curious!}.
  5. Strain the collected juice in your bowl into a large measuring cup and add enough water to bring the liquid to 3 cups. Pour this into the pot.
  6. Cut the tops and bottoms off the 2 lemons and slice them in half, lengthwise. Slice each of those halves width-wise. Place the lemon pieces, peel-side down, on a cutting board and slice into 1/4″ strips, leaving the flesh attached. It is okay if they aren’t perfectly sized. Toss all of the lemon pieces, along with any juice, into the preserving pot.
  7. Now is the time to put all of those reserved membranes, pith, and seeds to good use. Here is where your pectin comes into play. Take all of these bits and wrap them in 2 layers of cheesecloth. I firmly secured the makeshift bag but didn’t pack the pith and seeds too tightly. You want to give the pith and seeds a chance to infuse the marmalade mixture. Place this bag into the preservation pot.
  8. Bring the juice and zest {along with the cheesecloth bag} to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, taking a spoon and squeezing the cheesecloth bag a few times along the way.
  9. Turn off the heat. Once the bag is cool to the touch, squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Discard the bag and compost the remaining pith, membranes, and seeds.
  10. Over high heat, bring the citrus juice to a boil again and add the sugar. Stir along the way and bring the temperature up to about 220 degrees Fahrenheit. My mixture never reached this temperature, but it DID pass the “freezer test.” Remember that plate you placed in the freezer? Place a small amount of the mixture on your chilled plate, return it to the freezer for 1 minute, and check if it wrinkles when you touch it with a spoon.
  11. Ladle the marmalade, once it gels properly, into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace at the top. Wipe the rims with a damp cloth and seal the jars gently, just until closed, not too tightly.
  12. Place the jars into the boiling water bath, bring to a boil, and process for 5 minutes.
  13. Remove the jars from the canner and set on a heat-proof, flat surface. Do not disturb for at least 12 hours. Make sure that the cans have sealed. If they haven’t, just place the unsealed ones in the refrigerator and use them now. Store the properly sealed jars and use within a year for optimal flavor.

marmalade with slices of citrus


a few tips for better marmalade


  • Always purchase organic oranges. Pesticide residue is only measured by the amounts in the flesh of the fruit; the pesticide levels are not measured on the skins. Play it safe by always buying organic fruit and thoroughly scrubbing the skins.
  • Read this post on getting marmalade to set and always save your seeds. Like I mentioned earlier, I have seriously battled getting my marmalade to set. Don’t let that deter you from trying a recipe. I can’t remember where I saw this tip, but always save your citrus seeds whenever you’re juicing in the kitchen. Simply collect them in a bag and store them in the freezer to use in your next marmalade-making session.
  • Process your jars for the correct amount of time. If you are at a higher altitude, like I am, the processing time might be a little longer. Use this calculator to make sure you process for the correct amount of time. I processed mine for 15 minutes, since I live at 5,280 feet above sea level.
  • Juice your citrus at room temperature. It is much easier to do, and obtain more juice this way.
  • Read up on your canning and marmalade basics, before you begin. Here are a few resources that I have referenced, myself:

 


some recipes to pin for later


marmalade with wooden spoon

I’m curious about your thoughts on jam- and marmalade-making. What are your current challenges? Do you have any tips to share? Do you have a favorite recipe or resource?

And back to what I was talking about earlier, it is never too late to start something you’ve always wanted to try or learn something new. I seriously wonder why it takes a breakup, a diagnosis of a disease, or the loss of a job to spring us into action. Why can’t we just jump out, go after what we want, and make that change? Is it any less noble to start something new simply because we want to?

So, go make that marmalade, run that race, start that business, climb that mountain {literally or figuratively}, learn how to sail, or tell that person you love them. And wish me luck on that upcoming half-marathon!

Cheers to a beautiful and inspired week!

Jayme

three books on preserving stacked in a row

spicy quick-pickled spring radishes

I think that this very moment is the best setting ever to write a blog post. For that matter, to do anything! It is pouring rain outside. Not the pitter-patter peaceful kind, but the full-on, fiddler on the roof, batten down the hatches, tap-dancing until dawn kind of rain! I say, bring it!

As many of you know, I spend a few of my evenings working as a sommelier at a restaurant. The place happens to have a most splendid patio. If you have ever worked within the service or hospitality industry, you know that “patio season” is more or less a nightmare. You are constantly scrolling through your weather app feeds and performing audacious rain dances to skirt the afternoon showers, in order to keep your guests satisfied. It is quite the ordeal. I am an anomaly within this field, however: I am secretly jumping for joy inside, when it rains. It means my garden is getting drenched, and it means that I don’t have to tote the hose around our yard and water by hand the next day. Hooray for summer storms that deliver!

We just picked {and pickled!} the last of our spring French Breakfast radishes. We planted them by seed and in succession in early April and have harvested four rounds of radishes. This last go-round was a little spicy and a tad pithy, which can happen when harvesting late in the season, but they were perfect for pickling. Pickling covers a multitude of sins, but it can also bring out the best in vegetables.

Have you pickled before? It seems daunting and suggests the need for fancy equipment. Not necessarily so. Enter quick pickling, or as I lovingly name it, quickling. I touched on this subject last year, when I had a surplus amount of cucumbers. Almost anything can be quickled, and radishes do quite well with this method.

My attention was grabbed about a month ago by Cookie + Kate’s recipe for pickling spring radishes. So simple and fast. I added a few finishing touches of my own, and I have been pickling my radishes ever since. This particular recipe yielded one half-pint of pickled radishes, or about 1 1/2 cups.


spicy quick-pickled spring radishes


  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced {about 12 radishes or 1 cup, sliced}
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup Champagne vinegar {or white or apple cider}
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • about 10 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • a few pieces of dill leaves
  • 1 small garlic clove
  1. Scrub your radishes and slice them thinly. If you are brave and skilled, you can use a mandolin. You can also use a very sharp knife to slice paper-thin pieces of this pink root vegetable.
  2. In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the water, vinegar, agave nectar, and sea salt to a boil, dissolving the sea salt.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Place the sliced radishes into a clean Mason jar and pour the pickling liquid over top.
  5. Add the red pepper flakes, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, dill leaves, and garlic clove to the jar.
  6. Cover with lid and let cool.
  7. Once the jar’s contents have cooled, place the jar in the refrigerator. I removed my garlic clove at this point. I learned my lesson another time, when I let the garlic clove hang out in the jar for about a week. The radishes took on too intense of a garlic note. Just a touch is enough!
  8. Enjoy!

I have been sprinkling these pink treats on my summer green salads, tossing them on black bean tacos, and using them in relishes. Quickling is one way to use up your excess produce and prolong its enjoyment throughout the season. Use quick-pickled radishes within a month, noting that they taste best within about two weeks of the pickling date. Did you grow radishes this season? Are you pickling anything weird from your garden? The weirdest things I have pickled to date are yellow summer squash slices. I actually loooooved them atop burritos, alongside tacos, and graced over summer tortilla soup. I am not growing them this summer, but a friend of mine is. That’s where gardening friends come into play – tradesies!

Have a great week ahead and enjoy the goodness at hand. It is beautiful, delicious, and fleeting. Savor it, while it is here, and preserver it for later. Goodbye, radish season; it was fun!

green tomato relish

Gardening is definitely not a picture-perfect hobby.  There are many days spent dealing with powdery mildew, battling against bugs, anguishing over produce stolen by squirrels, and contemplating how on earth I can’t just grow a consistent tomato crop.  This year, we have been blessed with a classic Indian summer in Colorado, where the shades of yellow and orange have lingered well into the month of November.  In fact, I am still growing French breakfast radishes and arugula outside right now!  I finally put most of the garden to rest about a week and a half ago, harvesting hot peppers, spinach, Swiss chard, copious amounts of herbs, and some delicate, green tomatoes.  Ahhh, green tomatoes.  What to do with them?  Last year, I tried frying them, yielding excellent results.  This year, I canned them and made green tomato relish.  It turned those tart, green tomatoes into a spreadable, herbaceous, sweet-and-savory condiment, which I will enjoy well into the cooler months.

My grandmother used to “put up” and preserve, but unfortunately, we never connected on this subject, when she was alive.  As a little girl, I didn’t have the questions for her that I have right now.  In her absence, I simply wing it or consult these books:  Food in Jars, Small-Batch Preserving, or Canning for a New Generation.  When she didn’t can her greenies, she purchased Ritter’s Green Tomato Relish, which is, sadly, no longer available.  I tried developing a very similar recipe, using the pre-frost green tomatoes from my garden, and the results were beyond satisfying.

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“quickling” – the gateway pickling method | paired with frog’s leap chardonnay

Quickling.  It has become a favorite activity {and all-around awesome word!} here at my house this summer.  You need not let your vegetable harvest go to waste, simply because you feel you do not have the time, space, or know-how to preserve or can your garden goodness.  Quick-pickling, or as I affectionately call the process, “quickling,” is easier and faster than driving down to the grocery to purchase a jar of mediocre, store-bought pickles.  And it is simply more tasty and rewarding!

I hear your hesitation, “I don’t know how to can, and I don’t have one of those fancy pressure cooking devices…”  Well, the process of making refrigerator pickles is simple and does not require a large stockpot or a pressure canner.  “But I only have a small amount of vegetables on hand,” you argue.  Quickling solves that dilemma because you can make a small batch of brine to suit your present demand.  I put off pickling for years because I thought the process was daunting.  If you are a beginning preserver, the quickling process will initiate you beautifully:  simply heat, mix, and pour.  And, if you are a seasoned pro, quickling, as you know, is an excellent time-saver, when you want to quickly preserve and readily enjoy.

I picked these Kirby cucumbers from the garden first thing this morning, when they were at their prime for taste and texture.  I have also heard to pickle or preserve your picked produce {by the way, this sentence was sponsored by the letter, “p”…} as close to the time you picked it, so that its optimal flavor is captured.  I sliced each one, depending upon its size, into either halves or quarters, making sure to cut off the blossom end of each cucumber.  Cutting off the blossom end ensures that an enzyme, which causes sogginess, is removed.

I also avoid commercially bought pickling spices and choose to make my own.  This particular recipe is quite simple:  the spicy, dilly, garlic notes shine through.  I snipped a few cayenne and Thai peppers, several bay leaves, and some fresh dill seeds and flowers.  Some black pepper corns and garlic cloves completed my blend.  Feel free to add other spices, such as coriander, mustard seed, ginger, or even juniper berries.

Spicy Garlic Dilly Quickles  –  adapted from Marisa McClellan, author of Food in Jars and the amazing blog of the same name

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Kirby cucumbers, sliced with ends removed
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher or “pickling” salt
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in halves (2 cloves per jar)
  • 3 spicy peppers, sliced in halves (one per jar or use 1/4 dried pepper flakes per jar)
  • several fresh dill seeds and flowers (or 1 teaspoon dried dill seed per jar)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper corns (1/2 teaspoon per jar)
  • 3 bay leaves (one per jar)
  • 3 medium-sized or pint Mason jars (really, you can use whatever size you have on hand, and I have found that regular-sized mouth jars keep the pickles in line better)

Steps:

  1. Wash and slice the cucumbers into quarters or halves, depending upon the size and your preference.  Cut off the blossom end of each cucumber.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt.  Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
  3. Add spices to each jar.  Squeeze the cucumbers in as tightly as possible, without damaging them.
  4. Pour the brine liquid into each jar and leave about 1/2 inch head-space at the top of the jar.
  5. Tap the jars carefully to release any trapped air bubbles.
  6. Cover with lids and let cool.  Once the jars are cool, place them in the refrigerator and let them sit for at least two days before you enjoy them.  These pickles will keep in the fridge for up to a month, but I am sure that you will enjoy them long before they spoil!

I am super excited to try this batch of refrigerator pickles in a couple of days.  Be sure to keep these pickles refrigerated at all times, for they are not shelf-stable like pressure-canned pickles.  You can also adapt this recipe for other vegetables that you may have on hand; however, if you decide to quickle tougher veggies, like carrots, beets, or asparagus, blanch them for one minute, so that they are able to absorb the pickling flavor more readily.  This afternoon’s garden chores also included harvesting sage leaves, basil, and parsley.  After writing this post, I will be washing, sorting, and clipping the leaves to place in the dehydrator for the dried herb blend.  And an herb-clipping session like this can only be enhanced by a refreshing glass of California Chardonnay!

The wine  –  Frog’s Leap Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2011

  • On the eyes – pale straw with golden reflections.
  • On the nose – bright citrus with notes of apricot, wet rock, and faint spiced vanilla.
  • On the palate – dry and crisp mouth-feel, with notes of stonefruit, lemon balm, and green apple.
  • On the table – pairs perfectly with an afternoon of gardening or halibut, oysters, or roasted chicken breast {that’s for tonight!}.
  • On the shelf – about $25.
  • On the ears – paired with Wild Nothing’s “Counting Days” from the Nocturne album.  This lazy and dreamy shoe-gaze track captured my sunny, toasty afternoon perfectly.  Through the wispy vocals and hazy keyboards, I can almost see myself driving past an open field with the windows down, hands outstretched the window on a sun-drenched afternoon {while someone else is holding the wheel, of course!}.

Happy sipping, gardening, and quickling!