How to Make Small Batch Marmalade

Are you participating in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge? This small batch marmalade recipe is just the thing to get you started!

small batch marmalade yields just four half pints - Food in Jars

Okay folks. Let’s walk through how to make a batch of marmalade. I’m using a small batch as an example for this post, because marmalade is an energy-intensive preserve and so making a relatively petite batch makes it feel a little less overwhelming.

one pound Seville oranges for small batch marmalade - Food in Jars

Whether you’re making a small batch or a large one, marmalade making uses a ratio of 1:1:1. The easiest way to calculate that and ensure that the ingredients stay in consistent relationship to one another is measure by weight. In this batch, I used 1 pound of Seville oranges (about 2 1/2 oranges), 1 pound of sugar (2 cups), and 1 pound of the orange cooking water (also known as 2 cups).

simmered Seville oranges for small batch marmalade - Food in Jars

Place the fruit in a saucepan with a lid and add water. Use more than you’ll need to account for evaporation. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the oranges are completely tender and collapse in on themselves (this typically takes between 45-55 minutes).

Turn off the heat and let the oranges cool completely.

tender orange insides for small batch marmalade - Food in Jars

Once the oranges are cool enough to handle, remove them from the pot (remembering to save the cooking water). Position a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Cut an orange in half. Hold one half over the sieve and use a spoon to scoop out the interior of the orange into the sieve. Search the pulp in the sieve for any seeds.

Once you’re sure it is seed-free, put the pulp into the bowl with the juices. Repeat this with all the orange halves.

sliced Seville oranges for small batch marmalade - Food in Jars

Once all the pulp is in the bowl, it’s time to slice the rinds. Cut each rind half into 4 wedges and then cut those wedges into thin strips. You can cut them as thinly or thickly as you desire. Once all the rind wedges have been sliced, you can either add them to the bowl with the pulp or send them on to the pot in which you will cook the marmalade.

simmering small batch marmalade - Food in Jars

Combine the reserved cooking water with the orange rind slices, orange pulp, and sugar in a saucepan. You’ll notice that I changed saucepans halfway through the making of this batch. I did this because I realized that I was not going to have enough volume in the wider pot to give me a true reading on an instant read thermometer (there’s more detail on using a thermometer to achieve set in this post).

small batch marmalade in jars - Food in Jars

The reason marmalade sets up so well is that the sugar elevates in temperature as you boil the contents of the pot. As it elevates, the sugar begins to thicken and it creates a bond with the natural pectins in the fruit. The fact that oranges also contain a goodly amount of acid also helps with the set.

finished small batch marmalade close - Food in Jars

Once you’ve determined that your marmalade is finished, funnel it into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes (don’t know how to do the boiling water bath process? Read this post). When the time is up, remove the jars from the canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool.

When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortable handle them, check the seals (more details on checking seals here). Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.

I hope this post helps you feel a little more comfortable with the process of making marmalade. Oh, and one last thing. If you’re struggling to find Seville oranges, using a combination of juicing oranges and lemons creates a similar flavor profile.

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Mason to Go Launching on Kickstarter Tomorrow!

Oh friends! I have such fun news for you. Tomorrow, a Kickstarter is launching for a super fun mason jar accessory that you’re going to love. Called Mason to Go, it’s a double sided lid lets you easily couple a wide mouth and a regular mouth jar, without running any risk of leaks or spills.

The Mason to Go allow you to use your mason jars to easily pack up breakfast, lunch, or a snack and take it with you as you move through your day. Think about handy it would be next time you want to bring a salad with you!

I like using it to couple two half pint jars to pack up some nuts or dried fruit for those moments when I’m running errands and want to prevent lousy snacking.

When the campaign launches tomorrow, they will have 300 singles lids available for just $1.00 a piece (including shipping!). That deal is only available for the first 24 hours, or until all 300 lids have been claimed. There are also multipack options and sets including jars available on the Kickstarter page, depending on your wants and needs.

Other great uses for the Mason to Go lids include toting milk and cereal to work (but without anything getting soggy or leaking), bringing basic ingredients with you when you vacation (we often rent a house for a week in the summer and this would make it so easy to pack good olive oil and vinegar), as well as for potlucks and parties.

Make sure to check out the Mason to Go Kickstarter when it launches tomorrow. If you post about it on social media, make sure to use the hashtag #masonable. You can also find Mason to Go on Twitter! And get ready to meet your new favorite mason jar accessory!

Disclosure: This is sponsored post, brought to you in partnership with the good folks at Mason to Go. However, I mean every word I’ve said. I think this is a brilliant and useful piece of gear! 

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How to Make Marmalade for the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge

Tips, tricks, insights, and resources that should help show you how to make marmalade for the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge.

Welcome to everyone who has signed up to participate in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge! For this first month, we’re going to focus in on marmalade and how to make it.

First, let’s define our terms. The word marmalade can stretch to mean a whole number of jams, reductions, and sauces, but for our purposes, I’m going to use the word marmalade to mean a sweetened citrus preserve that consists of bits of peel, suspended in jelly. It uses the entire fruit (or, at least, darned near all of it). You can include other fruit in your marmalade, but citrus should make up at least half of the total volume of fruit in your finished batch.

As you choose the marmalade recipe you’re going to make for this challenge, pick something that you and your household will enjoy. I am not prescribing a single recipe or approach for this challenge and instead am charging you to pick something you like (or at least, you think you might enjoy).

Choosing Your Fruit

Any time you use the exterior of a lemon, orange or grapefruit, your best choice is unsprayed fruit. For those of you who live down south, this may mean begging or trading for a friend or neighbor’s backyard fruit. For those of us up north, more often, this means buying through a reputable orchardist who grows using organic practices. Some grocery stores have gotten wise and stock organic specialty citrus this time of year. Buy from them, if you can.

If you have the privilege of hand-picking the citrus you’re using to make marmalade, choose fruit that feels heavy for its size and that seems fairly unmarred (not always possible with homegrown fruit, but small bumps and scrapes can always be cut away during prep).

Another option is ordering by mail. I adore Karen Morss and her Lemon Ladies Orchard for Meyer lemons and often buy bitter Seville oranges through The Orange Shop.

Once you’ve got your fruit in hand, you have to determine the style of marmalade you want to make.

Style, Taste, and Texture

Whole Fruit – As you may have guessed, this method uses the whole citrus. Traditionally, it’s made with one part fruit, one part sugar, and one part water (by weight).

When tackling a whole fruit marmalade, the fruit has to be significantly softened before you add the sugar and begin the marmalade cooking process. This can be done by boiling the whole fruit (and chopping once cool), or by slicing the fruit into small pieces and then soaking for a period of time (this is a good example of that approach). In either case, you can choose whether you cut the rind into chunks, bits or slivers (this depends entirely on your texture preference).

Because this method includes the pith of the fruit, it is typically the most bitter of the all the marmalade varieties. If you like bitter flavors, this is a plus. If you shy away from things like coffee, black tea, minimally sweetened chocolate, and dark beer, this style is not for you.

Cut Rind – In this method, you slice away the outer zest for use in the marmalade, cut away the pith and then either segment or juice the inner flesh (much like what’s documented in this post). When making marmalades in this fashion, I like to cut the zest into very fine ribbons, so that they nearly melt into the jelly.

This is a good starter marmalade, because the absence of the pith means that it is less bitter than the whole fruit version. However, because citrus pith contains so much pectin, this variety can be a little more troublesome when it comes time to set, particularly if you’ve not saved and bundled up your pith in a pectin boosting bundle of seeds and membrane.

Ensuring Set

As is true with other jams and jellies, you’ll get the best and most consistent set from a small batch of marmalade (no more than three to four pounds of fruit to start with) made in a low, wide pan. In most cases, adding commercial pectin to marmalades (and citrus jams) is unnecessary. The amount of acid and pectin that is naturally in citrus should offer enough to get your preserve to gel.

When you make a whole fruit marmalade, often there’s not much extra that you need to do to extract the pectin from the fruit because the only bit you discard is the seeds (and after you’ve simmered them inside the fruit for an hour or two).

In batches of cut rind marmalade, I like to save all the seeds, pith and membrane, bundle it all up in a length of cheesecloth and leave it with the fruit through the soaking and cooking stages. If you can do so without burning your fingers, squeeze that pectin bundle well over the cooking pot before discarding it.

There are some exceptions. If you’re working with hybrid fruit like blood oranges or cara cara oranges, they are often seed-free and have very thin layers of pith. I will sometimes stash lemon seeds in my freezer and bundle them up for marmalades made with these low pectin varieties, in order to help with the set. I am also not above adding a tablespoon of powdered pectin to a batch of marmalade that seems to be struggling.

In most cases, recipes for marmalade will tell you to cook it to 220 degrees F in order to achieve set. This often works, but there are rare cases where a marmalade resists setting, even when cooked to 222F or higher (Kaela wrote about just such an experience). I find that it’s important to test for set at least two ways when making marmalade, to double check your work as it were. I always monitor the temperature and use the frozen plate test (detailed here).

Resources

There are a number of marmalade recipes in my books that would make able starting points (the Strawberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade in Preserving by the Pint is a particularly nice one). I also recommend the following books.

Marmalade: Sweet and Savory Spreads for a Sophisticated Taste by Elizabeth Field (I made a number of recipes from this book for the photo shoot and know it to be reliable and easy to work with.)

Marmalade: A Bittersweet Cookbook by Sarah Randell (This book is an import from England and truly, no one knows marmalade better than the Brits.)

The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders (Rachel is the proprietor of The Blue Chair Fruit Company and knows her way around a lemon. If you want to see how she does it, her Craftsy class is a good investment of time and resources.)

Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber by Christine Ferber (First published in English 15 years ago, this book is a fundamental volume in my library.)

Some of my favorite bloggers also have a deep backlist of marmalade recipes, ripe for the picking. I suggest checking out Local Kitchen, Hitchhiking to Heaven, Autumn Makes and Does, Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking, Doris and Jilly Cook, Punk Domestics, Mrs. Wheelbarrow, Cakewalk and Linda Ziedrich.

Check back tomorrow when I’ll have a recipe up showing you how to make a small batch of whole fruit Seville orange marmalade.

Oh, and one last thing. I’ll be doing a Facebook Live video on Thursday night (January 5, 2017) from 9-10 pm Eastern Time to answer all your marmalade questions!

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Cookbooks: The Perfect Blend by Tess Masters

The third book by Tess Masters, The Perfect Blend combines colorful produce, health-promoting boosters, and your countertop blender to create appealing, flavorful food.

I first met Tess Masters back in early 2013, when we were both guests on a Driscoll’s berries press trip. She was already The Blender Girl by then, but was just starting on her cookbook writing path. In the years since that first meeting, she’s written and published three cookbooks, the third of which came out just last week.

Called The Perfect Blend, this beautifully photographed book features 100 vegan and gluten-free recipes that all make good use of your countertop blender (don’t worry, it’s not just a book of soups and smoothies. There’s plenty here to crunch and chew).

I always like inviting a couple of vegetable-focused books into my library at the start of the new year. I never hew particularly close to any one eating modality, but I always appreciate being reminded that there is a rainbow of produce out there and that there are so many ways to make it interesting and delicious.

I’ve tucked nearly half a pad of sticky notes into this book by now, marking things like Kale Caesar (page 13), Cheezy Broccoli Soup (page 45), Sweet Potato & Macadamia Magic (page 97), and Thai Slaw (page 129). I do love a creamy soup made hearty and lasting with the addition of soaked and pureed nuts (I sometimes make this cauliflower soup and replace the cheese with cashew creme. So good!).

I also appreciate the chapter dedicated to promoting probiotics. Tess includes a salad dressed with a vinaigrette that includes fermented tofu, and offers her recipe for a finely shredded ferment that includes cabbage, leeks, carrots, apples, and parsley. I plan on picking up the necessary ingredients today and giving it a try.

My bottom line with this book is that it has inspired me to lever myself out of my regularly traveled cooking ruts and has me inviting more vegetables, seeds, and nuts into my kitchen. I’m looking forward to bringing a handful of the recipes to life. If you’re looking for a book to do something similar for you, I highly suggest you page through it next time you’re in a book store!

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Giveaway: Smooth Sided and Mini Jars from Ball Canning

Ponder your goals for the 2017 canning season and enter to win new storage and canning jars from Ball Canning!

Already today, we’ve talked a little bit about some of the canning and preserving we’re going to be doing together in the coming year (have you signed up for the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge yet?). Now, let’s talk in more detail about how we’re going to do it.

It takes thought and preparation to expand skill set and I find that there’s no better time to do a little planning for learning and growth than at the very start of fresh new year. Whether you’re a goal setter or a resolution maker, now is the time to start lining up our intentions.

Here are a few questions to start with as you dream up what you want to get out of your food preservation practice this year and how you want to shape the Mastery Challenge to work for you.

How does my family currently eat? Try starting with some small changes that will allow you to incorporate more homemade foods into your current habits and patterns.

What’s something I buy regularly from the store? If you find yourself picking up barbecue sauce or strawberry jam, consider setting a goal of making enough to get you through the year!

Is there something that scares me about food preservation? What can you do to release those fears?

What brings me joy in the kitchen? Not every goal has to be about pushing forward. Sometimes it’s enough to make time and space simply to do the things you already love.

How can I make my food preservation habit flow better? Sometimes all you need to do it put your gear in a more accessible part of your kitchen. Or perhaps you need to keep an eye out for a different canning pot. Knowing what you need is so much of the battle!

What do I want my kitchen life to look like this time next year? Sometimes the best way to set a goal is to look at where you want to end up and then plot a course that gets you there (or at least, that gets you closer).

Now, most food preservation goals will, at some point, arrive at the topic of jars. And it just happens that our friends at Ball Canning have recently added some new jars to their product line. In the spirit of helping a few Food in Jars readers further their food preservation goals, I’m giving away some of these new, lovely jars.

Three winners will each get a set of the new Ball Mini Storage Jars (these sweet little jars hold 4 ounces and sport 1-piece lids), a case of the new Ball Smooth-Sided Regular Mouth Pints, and a case of the Ball Smooth-Sided Regular Mouth Quarts.

Use the widget to enter!

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The Food in Jars Mastery Challenge

Join the Food in Jars community for a year-long food preservation mastery challenge. Each month brings a different skill on which to focus and explore!

Happy New Year, friends! And welcome to the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge!

Back in 2010, the blogger we all knew as Tigress hosted a year-long canning challenge known as the Can Jam. Each month, she’d announce a new category of ingredients and we’d all head out and make a preserve featuring that particular food. It was fun to be pushed to try new things and I so loved the sense of community that the Can Jam created.

There have been other challenges in more recent years (Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Charcutepalooza is one such memorable project) and after much pondering, I’ve decided to host one in 2017.

This challenge will be skill-based. Each month, we’ll all focus on a different pickling or preserving skill, with the intention that we end this calendar year with a greater level of expertise and comfort with a wide range of food preservation techniques than when we started.

At the beginning of each month, I’ll publish a blog post sharing tips on how to be successful with that skill and then will ask you to go forth and try it out. We’ll be talking in greater depth about each challenge in the Food in Jars Community on Facebook and I’ll be popping in regularly to answer questions.

If you have a blog or an Instagram account, I invite you to post the results of your project by the 25th of the month so that I can include it in a round-up (I’ll provide a monthly Google Forms link that you can use to submit your name and URL). However, you don’t have to have any kind of blog or social presence to participate. This challenge is about learning and sharing above all else.

Calendar of Preserving Skills
January – Marmalade
February – Salt Preserving
March – Jelly OR Shrubs
April – Quick Pickles
May – Cold Pack Preserving
June – Jam
July – Hot Pack Preserving
August – Low Temperature Pasteurization
September – Fruit Butter
October – Drying and Dehydration OR Pressure Canning
November – Fermentation
December – Fruit Pastes

If you’d like to join the challenge, please use the form below to sign up for the email list. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll try to be quick with my replies. Oh, and if you post to Instagram or tweet about the challenge, please use the hashtag #fijchallenge

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