I like preserving the fruits of my labor from my own garden or the farmer’s market. The canned jars look lovely on top of my cabinets. I’ll also can up a storm whenever apples are in the clearance bin at my grocery store. I have never, however, gone to the actual grocery store with a list of food to purchase to can something. Yet off to the store I jaunted, bearing my shopping list for making lemon ginger, blood orange, and prickly pear marmalades. Yep, that’s three marmalades. I should also confess that I’ve never eaten marmalade before this morning. Eating the peel of citrus always struck me as a foreign concept.
Why did I make three marmalades when I’d never even tasted it before?
Well, I love a good challenge that’s about learning new skills.
I saw the mastery challenge led by Food in Jars passed around Facebook, and I thought it sounded like an excellent way to expand my canning repertoire. Sure, I’ve made jam and fruit butters, and I’m a pro at my dehydrator (though still very leery of pressure canning). I think I’ve even done hot-packing preserving. I’m not sure. Either way, though, I still had at least seven whole months of challenges I hadn’t done, and a couple of the skills I’ve only done once (e.g., I made pickles out of zucchini one summer). Challenge accepted! Game on!
So, like I do when confronted with any challenge, I jumped in head first. Why start with one marmalade when I can make three marmalades over the long Martin Luther King Jr. weekend? I talked one of my friends who is interested in canning into helping out when she could. I sent her the list of traditional marmalades, and she was interested in helping make prickly pear marmalade (she also considered blood orange). Traditional marmalades do not use pectin and jell after a long boiling time and an abundance of sugar.
I’ve never even made a jam without using pectin, so I thought it might be better for me to try a marmalade that used pectin before jumping into two new skills (no pectin & marmalade). I read the list of quick marmalades to my husband, and to no one’s surprise, he liked the sound of a lemon ginger marmalade best. In fact, I was so unsurprised by his choice that for the briefest of moments I had considered not asking him. If I didn’t ask him, I could justify making the quick strawberry lemon marmalade that I had wanted to make. I’ll confess to having this ungenerous thought only because it fled as quickly as I had it. I like doing things that make him happy, even when it’s removing the membranes from six lemons and grating a cup of gingerroot.
So, lemon ginger marmalade was the first marmalade I made for the food in jars challenge. I’m even more pleased with the results because I didn’t follow the recipe in my book. I prefer using Pomona’s Universal Pectin and don’t buy anything else. I like low-sugar recipes that jell easily and consistently. Pomona’s does it for me. Unfortunately, this meant I had to figure out how to take a sugary recipe and use it for a pectin that’s designed to be used with low sugar. I found some great information on Pomona’s website about adopting another recipe for use with Pomona’s pectin, and I followed the advice there.
I think this marmalade will be great as a marinade, a vinaigrette for salads, or as a tart spread on my husband’s delicious homemade breads. It’ll sure look awfully lovely on top of our kitchen cabinets too; few things are instantly as cheering as a bright yellow lemon.
For anyone who is interested in the modifications I made to the lemon ginger marmalade recipe, I added a tiny bit of water to my fruit mixture to reach 5 cups, an easy figure to divide/multiply. I then added 2½ tsp of the calcium water to the fruit mixture and brought it to a boil. I combined 3 ¾ tsp pectin with 2 cups of sugar in a separate bowl. I added all the sugar at once to the boiling fruit mixture, boiled for about two minutes, and then proceeded to ladle the marmalade into jars and follow the recipe as written.