Three-Citrus Marmalade Recipe

4 1/2 pounds of fruit

One of the very first recipes I posted to this blog was one for Orange-Ginger Marmalade. I’m having a bit of a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that I’ve nearly cooked my way through an entire year of canning since then and that it’s time for marmalade, once again.

I’ve learned a great deal about preserves since then, and I think that this approach to marmalade is easier and more sensible that the one I originally took. This one used the outer layer of citrus zest, but discards the inner pith, making for easier chopping and a more tender product. I’m completely delighted with the way that this batch turned out, and last night, when I served it at a party along side a long of goat cheese, I felt so proud that it was something I had made in my own little kitchen.

de-zested citrus

To begin, weigh your fruit. Conventional fruit is fairly uniform in size these days, but there can still be a great deal of variety in weight, depending on storing conditions and length of time off the tree. I used 2 pink grapefruit, 3 lemons and four navel oranges and had approximately 4 and 1/2 pounds of fruit. Feel free to add or subtract a lemon or orange to achieve the right weight. Scrub your citrus well, so that you can feel good about including all that lovely, fragrant zest in your preserve.

serrated peeler

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from your citrus. I tried every peeler I own (at least five) and found that the serrated peeler you see above did the best job. Please take care when using one of these tools though, as those little teeth are incredibly sharp. At one point, I slipped and ended up with a series of punctures in the tip of my pinky finger. Not pleasant when working with acidic citrus.

chopping zest

Once your citrus has been stripped, chop the zest into fine ribbons. I found that the best way to do this was to stack four or five strips of zest and then mince them (mind your fingers!) into bits about 1/4 of an inch wide. I found that my 4 1/2 pounds of fruit yielded approximately 2 1/2 cups of zest bits.

zest in motion

Fill a medium-sized pot with 6 cups of cold water, add your zest ribbons and bring to a boil. Simmer the zest for half an hour, until it’s tender and uniform in color. While it boils…

chop, chop

Use a sharp paring knife to break your naked fruit down. Take a grapefruit and cut the north and south poles off (to give yourself stable bases). Then, working top to bottom, cut the white pith off the fruit (you want to expose the interior surface of the fruit). When all the white pith is removed, use the knife to separate the fruit from the membrane of the fruit (this technique is called supreming and there’s a helpful tutorial over on Coconut & Lime, if my written instructions aren’t doing it for you). Collect the naked segments in a large measuring cup and reserve the membranes and seeds.

bundle of seeds, pith and membranes

When all the fruit has been broken down, gather up the reserved seeds and membranes in a piece of cheesecloth. Bundle it up well and tie off the top, so that none of the seeds can escape. One does this because the seeds, membrane and pith contain a great deal of pectin. You will boil this bundle with the fruit while you make the marmalade, so that you extract the maximum amount of pectin from your fruit.

draining the zest bits

At this point, the zest should be done boiling. Drain the cooked zest, reserving the boiling water. This liquid has been infused with a great deal of citrus flavor and so some of it will be used in the marmalade.

boil, boil

Finally, it’s time to make marmalade! In a large, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot (a stainless steel or enameled dutch oven is your best bet there), combine the zest ribbons, the citrus segments (approximately 4+ cups), 4 cups of the zest cooking liquid, 6 cups of sugar and the cheesecloth bundle.

the magic temperature

Bring the pot to a boil. It’s a good idea to use a big pot for this, so that you have plenty of room for the marmalade to bubble. Pair that large pot with a instant read thermometer with a temperature alarm, and you don’t have to watch it the entire time. Set the thermometer to 220 degrees (that’s the point at which the marmalade will achieve set), place the thermometer probe in the pot (balancing it so that you keep the cord away from the burner) and feel okay turning your back to do some dishes (return to it every 4-5 minutes to stir). This will need to boil for 30-40 minutes, in order to reach and sustain 220 degrees.

While it cooks, you can also prepare your canning pot, jars (for this recipe, they need to be sterilized, as this one is only processed for five minutes. I find that the easiest way to do this is to put them in the canning pot when you’re first filling it and bring them up to a boil along with the water), lids (simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat to soften the sealing medium) and rings.

finished marmalade, waiting to be poured into jars

Once the marmalade has reached 220 degrees and has stayed there for at least a minute, check the potential set by putting a small dab of the hot marmalade into the middle of a cold plate. Let it sit for a moment and then nudge it with your finger. If the surface wrinkles and seems firm, it is ready. If it is still quite runny, boil it for several additional minutes.

Once the text yields a good result, turn the heat off and remove the pot from the burner. Gently stir the marmalade for about a minute off the heat. I’ve learned over the years that this helps the zest distribute itself evenly throughout your preserve (I hate it when the solids clump towards the top of the jar, and this helps prevent that from happening).

filling jars

Fill your jars (this recipe makes approximately 3 1/2 pints), leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. When they’re all filled, wipe the rims to remove any sticky residue, apply the lids and screw on the rims. Carefully lower the filled jars into the canning pot (don’t forget to put a rack in the pot). Process in a boiling water canner for five minutes (starting the time when the pot returns to a boil). When the five minutes are up, remove the jars from the pot and let them rest on a towel-lined counter top until the jars are completely cool.

three-citrus marmalade

Here’s my serving suggestion: Spread spoonfuls on freshly baked scones, drink black tea with milk and sugar, and pretend you’re in Gosford Park.

And, because I’m so proud of this lovely, fragrant, gently-bitter marmalade, I have a jar to give away. I’ve set that little four-ounce jar you see up there on the right aside for one of you lovely readers. Leave a comment by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, February 18th, 2010 to enter.

A recipe, in a more conventional format, can be found after the jump.

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Dark Days: Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

sweet potato wedges

Kids, the larder was really bare of fresh, local foods this week. Couple my trip out of town last weekend with the fact that I missed the ordering deadline for my bi-weekly Winter Harvest delivery and that Philly got more than two feet of snow yesterday (canceling my neighborhood farmers’ market), I haven’t really grocery-shopped in more than two weeks. The pickings are slim around here.

So, this afternoon, I quartered two pounds of sweet potato fingerlings I had in the fridge, tossed them with some olive oil and kosher salt and roasted them at 425 degrees until they were browned, tender and crispy around the edges. I ate them with some scrambled eggs (from happy, local chickens) and called it good.

It was a useful reminder that while shopping locally doesn’t have to be hard, it does take some pre-planning. Normally, I have good systems in place to make it easy to keep my fridge stocked and full of options. But when one part of that system fails, I immediately fall back to shopping at Trader Joe’s, Di Bruno Bros. (they pride themselves on all their high-end, imported stuff. Tasty, but decidedly not local) and Sue’s Produce.

The forecast is calling for more snow, so my market might not happen again next weekend and the next Winter Harvest delivery is still another week away. Thankfully, the Fair Food Farmstand is still operating, so I’m going to run over there during my lunch hour on Tuesday and restock. And soon, I’ll have my system running again, funneling lots of good, local food from the farms, right to my kitchen.

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Maple-Banana Bread

banana-maple bread

We got 28.5 inches of snow here in Philadelphia over the last 24 hours. I bought oranges, lemons and grapefruit yesterday before the storm hit, thinking that I might take advantage of the snow day and make a batch of mixed citrus marmalade.

Instead, I embraced the slowness of the snow and rambled through the day. I walked over to my cousins’ house and spent a couple of hours helping celebrate Derek’s third birthday. Back at home, I did some dishes and organized canning jars (I invest more time in this particular endeavor than I care to admit). For dinner, I quickly cooked some broccoli and reheated the rest of the chicken pot pie I made on Thursday night. And I transformed some seriously blackened bananas into Maple-Banana Bread.

I’d been watching these bananas get progressively blacker and less appealing for most of the week. Each time I made dinner, I’d move them from one counter top and then back again, always mentally promising them that I’d use them before they were beyond salvation. Today, with the snow and general coziness, baking just felt like the obvious choice.

I used to be devoted to the banana bread recipe in the late sixties edition of The Joy of Cooking (when left to its own devices, my mother’s copy opens right to that recipe). However, over the years I’ve tweaked it so thoroughly, that it’s hardly related to the original. This version lives on an index card in my kitchen, tucked between the radio and my kitchen scale. Made with whole wheat pastry flour, wheat germ and maple syrup, it manages to be tender and not too sweet (perfect with a dab of apple or pear butter!).

So gather your aging bananas and bake up a batch this weekend!

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The Blog Aid Cookbook Now Available

Much to the delight of everyone involved, the Blog Aid Cookbook is now available! So many thanks go out to Julie and her team of volunteers who helped transform an idea into beautiful reality. As it stands now, since the ordering site went live on Blurb just before midnight last night, nearly 400 copies have been sold. Thanks to the generosity the project partners (West Canadian Graphics and Blurb.com) and their matching funds (up to $10,000), those sales means that over $20,000 CDN have been raised for Red Cross and Doctors without Borders.

The book can be ordered in either paper ($25) or hard back ($50) here (or you can get to it by clicking the Blog Aid image in the right rail). Whichever cover you choose, you’ll get a 7 x 7 book, with 110 pages of recipes and full-color photos.

And, if you’re not yet tempted by this lovely book (and my three recipes), consider all the other contributors. Chef Michael Smith, Dana McCauley, Emily Richards, Catharine from Weelicious, Cheryl from Backseat Gourmet, Julie of Dinner with Julie, Jeannette of Everybody Likes Sandwiches, Nishta from Blue Jean Gourmet, Lauren of Celiac Teen, Charmian from Christie’s Corner, Shaina from Food for my Family, Shauna and Danny from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, Lauren from Healthy Delicious, Alice from Savory Sweet Life, Tara from Seven Spoons, Jess of Sweet Amandine, Helen from Tartelette, Gail from The Pink Peppercorn, Pierre of Kitchen Scraps, Tim from Lottie and Doof, Tea from Tea & Cookies, Jamie from My Baking Addiction, Lori from Recipe Girl, Melissa from The Traveler’s Lunchbox, Brooke of Tongue-n-Cheeky and Aimee of Under the High Chair.

So, what are you waiting for? Buy this book!

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Marmalade and Blog Aid

Sealed jars

Marmalade is lovely stuff (just ask the English) and it is best when it’s homemade. Thanks to the January Can Jam, the internet is full-to-bursting with different riffs on this classic citrus spread. However, I’m sure there are still some of you out there who are a little bit intimidated by the idea of taking on a homemade marmalade project. But, if you live in the Philadelphia area, those of you with marmalade anxiety are in luck. I’m teaching a how-to class on Saturday, February 13th from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at Foster’s Homewares. Click here to sign up!

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Last month’s earthquake in Haiti was a worldwide tragedy. I watched the unfolding devastation with tears on my cheeks and a feeling of helplessness, because beyond sending a bit of spare money and offering thoughts/prayers, what was there that could be done?

In recent days, I’ve been shown that there was actually quite a lot that could be done and I am grateful for the fact that while I was mired in despondency over the catastrophe, others were spurred to action. Food writer Julie Van Rosendaal is one such actor.

Instead of feeling sad and moving on, she decided to launch Blog Aid and create a cookbook that would raise funds for Haitian relief. She called on fellow food writers and bloggers for the recipes and photos and now, just two weeks after inception, the cookbook is nearly ready to go.

If you’re curious about how the proceeds from the book will benefit Haiti, here’s what Julie has to say about that:

The proceeds from book sales will go straight to Haitian relief via the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders, and get this: both West Canadian AND Blurb are matching the dollar amount of the proceeds raised, to TRIPLE those dollars going to Haiti. And of course until February 12th, the Canadian government will match that.

The book will be available for order sometime this week and it includes recipes from some of my favorite bloggers. I contributed three recipes to the effort, including one for Pear Ginger Jam (truly, one of the best jams I’ve made recently). It’s a recipe I’ve never posted here, so if you want to get a peek at it, you’ll have to get a copy of the book (I will post here as soon as it’s available for order).

I am so appreciative to have gotten to be part of this project, as it has reminded me that cooperation and love can thrive, even in the face of the most horrifying ruin.

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Dark Days: Roasted Potatoes, Local Greens and a Cast Iron Frittata

Dark Days dinner

Scott and I spent the weekend away, and by the time we rolled back into town tonight, I was hungry, tired and totally weary of eating food prepared by others (admittedly, part of my fatigue came from the fact that we didn’t plan particularly well and ate more fast food than I typically eat in a month).

On the drive home, I took mental stock of my fridge and pantry, and cooked the meal you see above three times over in my head before we had even crossed back into Philadelphia.

Roasted purple potatoes (they’ve been kicking around for nearly a month now, so they were a little wrinkled but cooked up just fine), a little salad (I was praying that these greens, which I bought a week ago, hadn’t turned to sludge in the crisper, and aside from a few wilt-y pieces, were just fine — a testament to their freshness upon purchase) and a frittata made from Meadow Run Hill Farms eggs, some of the ham from last week’s pizza, a hunk of hard goat cheese from Hail Family Farms and some buying club onions and chard.

We were sitting down to eat within an hour of getting home, without calling for take-out or resorting to a heat and serve option. And most of that wasn’t active time, I de-stickered and washed all those jars I bought over the weekend while the potatoes roasted and the top of the frittata set up in the oven. Proof positive that eating local can be quick and simple, even in these dark days.

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