January 2019 Mastery Challenge Round-up

January 29, 2019

We have reached the end of the first month of the 2019 Mastery Challenge and it was such a fun one. There are nearly 1,000 people participating in the challenge this year and of those, 345 people reported in that they made a preserve for this first month.

Here’s how the month broke down in terms of the projects you all tried. Marmalade was a big winner, as was salt preserved citrus. I realize that I left a couple key categories out of the options. Most of the things contained in that Other category were citrus curds, shrubs and syrups.

One of the most interesting data points for me in this process is seeing how your attitudes towards the monthly topic change over time. The chart above shows how you all felt at the start of the month. The attitudes range from totally disinterested to fully engaged.

By the end of the month, those attitudes are far more positive than at the start. They’re not all perfect tens, but that’s okay. One of the things I’ve learned over and over again is that not every preserve is for every person. But we don’t always know if a preserve is for us or not until we’ve tried making it. The Mastery Challenge is a good way to test our personal assumptions about what we think we like and learn more about ourselves.

Jenny Veleke’s Citrus Salt

I’ve spent a bunch of time looking at all of the various preserves you all reported you made and it’s a varied list. Some of the most popular project were preserved lemons (33 reported batches), lemon curd (20 batches), Meyer lemon marmalade (11 batches), and orange cardamom jam (9 batches).

Karen Renne’s honeyed tangerines

There were tons of other variations on marmalade, including versions that combined lemon and pink grapefruit, orange cardamom (a popular flavor combo), blueberry meyer lemon, kumquat, cherry Meyer lemon, strawberry lemon, chili, citron with bourbon, and gin lime.

Lacey Cook’s first-ever batch of marmalade

There were also a number of creative shrubs, including lemon blueberry, raspberry orange, and grapefruit, tangerine and rosemary (that one sounds particularly delicious to me!).

Megan Howard’s grapefruit, tangerine, and rosemary shrub!

Here’s some of what you all said about the challenge!

The availability of all kinds of great citrus is what makes January survivable for me. I am really enjoying the interaction with so many helpful and enthusiastic cooks!

Sydney Pieschel, Calgary

For whatever reason, I always thought marmalade had to be a giant production, so doing a small batch was a great introduction to canning citrus.

Megan Donahue, Chicago

I enjoyed it! This was an opportunity to connect with my husband’s Indian heritage, as I used his grandmother’s recipe for lemon pickle. It’s a condiment we keep in our fridge all the time, but I’ve been nervous to try making it myself. Once I realized it was just salt-preserved lemons (which I first tackled for the 2017 challenge) with spices added after a few days, I knew I could do it!

Elizabeth Gassler, Pittsburgh
Angela Hanley’s Meyer lemon ginger marmalade, Meyer lemon curd, and dehydrated Meyer lemons!

Here are some of the things people made this time around (this is not a complete list, just a smattering of links that I thought were interesting).

Orange Cardamom Jam (Cooking with Mary and Friends)
Chile Orange Marmalade (Canning and Preserving)
Meyer Lemon Curd (Heidi F Graham) I like that she served it over poundcake. Yum!
Lemon curd and so much more (Sara Reece)
Canned Clementine Quarters (Les Campagnonades)
Candied Orange Peel (A Plateful of Happiness)
Boozy Adventures (Feast in Thyme)
Citrus-Rhubarb Compotes (Green Card Gardener)
Strawberry, Currant, and Meyer Lemon Jam (My Garden, My Life)

And with that, I’m calling the January challenge complete! Look for the introduction to the February challenge later this week!

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One thought on "January 2019 Mastery Challenge Round-up"

  • Thanks so much for all your work. I look forward to the rest of the FiJ 2019 Mastery Challenge. Noodling on a ferment, even now.