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Registration for Canning Classes Now Open!

I  heard today that registration is open for the canning classes. Talk to your friends, gather your relatives and let any other canning kindred spirits in your life know that now is the time to learn to make jam, pickles and more! Let me know if you have questions about the classes, otherwise I look forward to seeing some of you there!

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Honey Lemon Marmalade

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Having immersed myself in the world of marmalade over the last month, it’s definitely something I’m adding to my preserving repertoire. However, I am really grateful to be moving on canning/pickling projects that require less knife-work, as I don’t think my right hand could handle any further citrus chopping. This batch of Honey Lemon Marmalade required 14 lemons, which took nearly an hour to break down (and I seriously recommend that you make sure you don’t have any paper cuts prior to embarking upon this recipe). However, the work was worth it because this is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.

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Back in January, I was obsessed with drinking infusions of honey, lemon juice and ginger. It was great way to fend off the winter chills and felt fairly virtuous to boot. While this marmalade doesn’t have any ginger in it, it evokes those infusions, and makes me want to stir spoonfuls into hot tea (I haven’t done it yet, but I may not be able to resist the urge).

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This is the first time I’ve used honey as a sweetener in a canning project, and I think it worked pretty well. It wasn’t the sole sweetener, I also used some evaporated cane sugar (not because I was trying to be healthier, I was simply of out regular sugar). I wanted the flavor of the buckwheat honey (darker and slightly richer than regular wildflower honey), but because it’s such a deep taste, I was afraid that it would overwhelm the delicacy of the lemon.

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The other thing I did differently with this batch of marmalade is that I used a full dose of pectin. In past batches, I used a single 3 ounce pack of pectin. This time around I used a full 6 ounces, which really firmed things up. I also lengthened the cooking time, in the hopes of drawing out more of the natural pectin.

As always, I have a half pint of this marmalade that could potentially have your name on it. Leave a comment if you want in on the giveaway, I’ll pick a winner by Saturday at 5 pm. Thanks to all who entered, the contest in closed.

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Canning Classes!

Sterilizing Jars

When I was in high school, I decided that what I wanted to do for my living was to become a public speaker. The thing I wasn’t sure of was what exactly it was that I wanted to speak about. I did realize that in order for people to want to hear me talk about something, I’d need to become something of an expert in a subject area. Realizing that I wasn’t much of an expert at the green age of 17, I put the public speaking plan on the back burner, figuring that over time, my topic area would eventually rise to the surface.

Thirteen years late, it appears that I’ve found my subject. My 17 year old self never, ever would have guessed that my future subject area would be canning, jam-making and pickling, but now that it’s here, I can’t imagine a more comfy and innate thing.

That’s a long introduction to let you all know that I’m going to be teaching some canning classes this summer at Foster’s Homeware (same place that we do Fork You Live, if you follow the podcast). I’ll be teaching a series of four workshops, one per month in June (Strawberry-Rhubard Jam), July (Canned Peaches), August (Polish-Style Pickles) and September (Canned Tomatoes). The classes are limited to 12 people per session and each participant will get to take a jar of what we make home with them. I’m going to be running out to New Jersey early each morning prior to the class, to pick or purchase the most delicious and fresh produce I can get my hands on, so our product is guaranteed to be quite delicious.

If you don’t live in Philly, make sure to pass the word along to your friends who do. More details about the classes after the jump.

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Tip: Labeling Storage Jars

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When I was as senior in high school, I took advanced biology. I can’t say that I’ve retained much from that class, particularly since once I got to college, I eschewed the sciences in order to focus almost entirely on literature, sociology and politics. However, there is one thing that sticks with me from that class, and it’s a tip that’s entirely useful when you use glass jars to store dry goods.

The tip is this: Sharpie ink will write on glass smoothly and easily, but then erases completely with a single alcohol swab. We used that trick in that science class to label test tubes and beakers, and I’ve continued to use permanent markers to clearly mark my jars full of food. I find that it’s particularly useful to mark jars with the date as well as with the contents, so that you know just how long it’s been around the pantry. I’ll even mark on the jar things like “use this first” or “millet, cook or toast” to remind myself of usage. I also like this method better than putting sticky labels on the jars, because it keeps them free of residue.

How do you guys store and label your dry goods?

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Blood Orange Marmalade Winner!

bo-marmalade-winner It appears I’m about 24 hours late in posting the Blood Orange Marmalade winner. In my defense, I did Fork You Live (the monthly live version of my online cooking show) yesterday afternoon and it left me totally exhausted (normally I do it with Scott, but he was out of town this weekend, so I was on my own, talking in front of an audience for a full hour. It’s tiring).

Anyway, enough with the stalling. The winner of the pint of Blood Orange Marmalade is Maggie of Pithy and Cleaver (featuring grilled cheese sandwiches all month long)! A fellow Portlander, Maggie and I recently figured out that we knew some of the same people when we were growing up. You’ve gotta love the internet!

Next up this week, I’m hoping to finally make that batch of Honey Lemon Marmalade that I’ve been talking about, wrapping up this marmalade phase. I’m finally seeing domestic asparagus in my local markets (as opposed to from Mexico) so I do believe pickled asparagus will hit my personal canning schedule sometime this week.

How about the rest of you? Anyone doing anything fun with food in jars this week?

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Blood Orange Marmalade

Dear friends. I’ve learned a lot about the process of making marmalade since the days when I posted this recipe. I don’t recommend that you follow the instructions I wrote below. I’m leaving the post up because I hate leaving holes in the site, but I ask if you’re looking for marmalade guidance, you visit this post instead. It can be made with blood oranges in place of the variety of citrus, should you be wondering. 

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This marmalade wasn’t part of the plan I had neatly laid out in my head. I figured that after the Vanilla-Rhubarb Jam, I would make a batch of Honey-Lemon Marmalade and then head to the savory, pickling side of things for a while. But then I found myself at Reading Terminal Market last Saturday with my friend Shay and Iovine’s was selling blood oranges 5/$1. At that price, it seemed like I would be a fool not to buy a few. Or fifteen.

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Have you ever bought fifteen pieces of the same fruit all at once, when they’re being sold by the count (as opposed to by the pound or the half-bushel)? It was certainly a first for me. I think previously, I’d never gone over ten. It was something of a physical challenge too, because Iovine’s has narrow aisles and is always crowded (more so on Saturdays), making it tricky to balance your basket, keep your bag from knocking people over and still managing to keep track of how many oranges you’ve tucked into the bag. I must have recounted three or four times before I was sure that I had the proper number.

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I spent a couple of days with the blood oranges on my kitchen counter, arranged in a old yelloware bowl. Each time I walked into the kitchen, I’d pick one up and give it a sniff, recalling the first time I encountered blood oranges. It was about six years ago, the only time I took a boy home to Portland for the holidays (Scott, the one I’m marrying, still hasn’t been to Portland or met my parents. I guess that’s what the wedding will be for). Matt, an old family friend, was bartending at Paley’s Place, a delicious restaurant in NW Portland, so one night, the boy and I headed out to have a drink while he was working and catch up for a bit.

That night, Matt too busy to talk much, mostly because he’d put several drinks on the menu that featured freshly squeezed blood orange juice. He made us some fancy, boozy coffees, with flaming cinnamon and we watched as he juiced the oranges and mixed drinks.

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Tuesday night, as beautiful at the blood oranges were, it was time to make marmalade. I approached it much the way I did the first batch, taking care to sharpen the knife I was using before beginning the process of chopping the oranges. It’s a tedious task, but even more if you’re sawing away with a dull blade. 12 oranges later, I had ten cups of chopped fruit, my left hand was dyed a vivid purple and my kitchen was dappled with red drops of juice.

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I cooked the oranges with 4 cups of sugar, one cup of liquid (I used half blood orange juice and half water, but plain orange juice or all water would be fine as well) and some lemon juice. I thought about adding something else to punch up the flavor, but after a taste, I determined that it was perfectly delicious as it. I used one packet of liquid pectin to firm things up a bit. However, the juice is fairly thin, so if you prefer a more jelled consistency, I’d recommend two packets.

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I think that this may be one of the best things I’ve made. The batch I made was a bit over four pints and so I had a small stash for myself in the fridge. I ate it on toast last night for dessert and the way the sweet and tart flavors work together is a joyful thing for the mouth.

I’ll be giving away a full pint of this marmalade to one lucky commenter. Since I didn’t get this post up until late on Thursday night, you have until Saturday at 5 pm to leave a comment for a chance to be the winner.

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