Monday, January 30, 2012

One more might be the last you'll ever need!

Citrus citrus everywhere…our trees are exploding, the farmers markets are full, even our CSA box has a modicum of these juicy bits of sunshine. And I am surely doing my part to either eat or preserve as much as I can. And through it all I seem to have developed a bit of a marmalade obsession. I want to try new combinations of fruit. Get the color and consistency just right. Make a marmalade that, quite frankly, would be hard to live without. So in my truly research obsessive way, I have read more recipes for this lovely spread than there are types of fruit and have come to the conclusion that EVERYONE does it differently and EVERYONE has their own idea of what the perfect marmalade might be like…quite well jelled/rather runny, chunky rind/thin slivers, soft peel/crunchy peel, very tart/very sweet…well you get the picture. So I set out to create my perfect marmalade. A recipe that could be sort of a master. A recipe that one could change out the fruit indiscriminately, add herbs, peppers or liquor and still come up with…perfect marmalade. This has been a true test kitchen project. The first thing I determined was that, with few exceptions, the volume of fruit and the volume of sugar are the same. For me the weight was 3 ¾ LBS. fruit and sugar. If I used these quantities, plus water, I could make enough marmalade to fill 12 of my 190ML jars. I also gleaned from various recipes that if you make a sort of cooked juice from part of the fruit,
and use that as part of your liquid you can get a very intense fruit flavor. Lastly, lots of slow cooking creates good fruit consistency and a lovely consistency of jelly. I then set about applying this ‘formula’ to all manner of citrus…and low and behold…it worked! So here you go, one of my personal favorites Honey Meyer LemonMarmalade…
Honey Meyer Lemon Marmalade
Aprox. 12 - 190 ML jars

3 ¾ LBS Meyer Lemons
¾ LB Honey
3 LB Sugar

Cut 2 ¼ LBS lemons in half crosswise, half lengthwise and then cut into thin slices to create little ½ rounds. Put the slices and their juice into a nonreactive pan, cover with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling remove from heat, cover with a lid and set aside.

Meanwhile, cut the remaining 1 ½ LBS of lemons into eighths. Put them in a nonreactive pan, cover with enough water so that the wedges float. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours. Gently press down on the citrus every half hour or so to help release juices. When finished cooking remove from heat and strain juice through a strainer, being sure to press out every last drop of juice, then strain a second time through a fine sieve, cool.

Now, over high heat, reheat the lemon slices to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until soft.

Place 3 spoons on a plate in the freezer for testing ‘set point’…To test set point: take a frozen spoon from the freezer, scoop a small amount of the boiling marmalade from the pan, place back in the freezer on the plate and wait about 3 minutes, then remove the spoon, push the marmalade with your finger, if it is a nice jellied consistency the marmalade is ready.

In a bowl, combine sugar, honey, cooked juice, fruit slices and their juice. Transfer to a large nonreactive pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook at a rolling boil for aprox. 50 minutes - to the set point. Turn off heat, skim off any foam, and let marmalade rest for 10 minutes. Fill your jars and process.

The honey flavor is subtle, but definitely there…and don’t limit this marmalade to toast or peanut butter…it is lovely with goat cheese and cracker paired with some nice crisp white wine. Enjoy!

A one size fits all marmalade recipe? on Punk Domestics

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ooo la la Quince Marmalade...Beautiful inside and out!

The quince, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful fruits out there.  Being slightly more irregular than the pear and dusted with a bit of tan fuzz they are an artist’s delight.  And then there’s the scent, sort of a honey apple that seems to float in the air.  The fact that they are rather hard to find in this country definitely adds to their allure.  There is something else magical about quince…uncooked; their off white meat resembles the consistency Styrofoam.  Not until the quince is cooked for several hours do they transform into soft edible fruit, with an even more beautiful aroma and a lovely rosy color.

Quince is very high in natural pectin, making it a natural for making preserves.  In fact the word marmalade is derived from the Portuguese word  marmelada or a preserve made from quince.  The word then morphed into something meaning any gelled fruit…go figure, and the English and their citrus took it from there.

Now in Greece, quince are plentiful and are used to make all manner of delicious delights from something akin to our apple sauce to quince paste,  a yummy confection resembling grown up gummy bears.  Having a Greek neighbour, with her own quince tree, I have had the opportunity to play around with quince and make a few of these treasures.  But this year I decided to go all out.  I found a gentleman at the farmer’s market who was selling quince and I purchased 6 LBS so that I could make actual quince marmalade.

Okay, so it’s seriously labor intensive.  Peeling and coring the quince is not for the faint of heart and then cutting them into little pieces about the size of shoestring potatoes does take a while.  Although the cooking time is long, it’s not like you have to monitor the pan at all times so that helps.  And the result is to die for…the flavor is sweet apple honey goodness and the color is like the finest glass of rose wine.  Well worth the effort in my opinion.  So if you can rustle up some quince, take the plunge and turn a beautiful fruit into an even more beautiful marmalade. 

I worked from the recipe in ‘The Bluechair Jam Cookbook’ by Rachel

Quince Marmalade

½ LB                                                  Peeled  and cored quince

1 LB & 2 ¼ additional LBS          Granulated sugar

5 LBS                                               Quinces cut into eights

3 ½ oz.                                              Fresh lemon juice (meyer lemon)

1                                                         Star Anise

1 ( ½ inch)                                       Vanilla Bean - split

1-2 oz                                              Brandy

Peel & core ½ LB of Quince.  Slice thin slices and then cut each slice into this strips - think shoe string potatoes….Combine quince slices with 1 LB of the sugar in a non reactive pan.  Add two inches of water - I  actually measured with my ‘kitchen ruler’ from the bottom of the pan to a depth of two inches.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, decrease the heat to a simmer and cover half way with a lid.  Cook without stirring for about 2 ½ hours.  The liquid will turn a lovely color of rose and the quince slivers will be translucent. Be sure to check the mixture at about 20 minute intervals to see if the mixture looks too syrupy - if it does add a little water.  When it has finished let the mixture ‘rest’ for the night.

While you are cooking the quince slivers, prepare the quince juice.  Place the quince eights into a nonreactive pot and fill with cold water to cover the quince by one inch.  Bring to a boil over high heat and then lower the heat and allow to simmer, covered for 2 to 2 ½ hours.  It will be a wonderful rose color when it is ready and the liquid will have thickened to the consistency of a light syrup.  While the quince cooks, occasionally press down with a wooden spoon on the fruit  to help soften them.  The fruit needs to remain submerged so add water if necessary.

Strain the juice from the fruit but pouring through a colander over a  heat proof bowl.  Cover the whole thing with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator overnight to drain.

Next morning, remove the quince pieces and their juice from the refrigerator and strain through a fine sieve to collect any remaining solids. 

Place a plate and spoon into the freezer to be ready to test the jam later.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the little quince pieces and any of their liquid, the quince juice, 2 ¼ LBS sugar, lemon juice, star anise and vanilla, and stir well.  Put the mixture into a nonreactive pan and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.  Continue to cook at a rapid boil until a small amount of the mixture removed with the spoon and placed into the freezer for a couple minutes is the consistency of jam - about 25 minutes cooking time.  Stir in the brandy and stir constantly.

Skim any foam from the marmalade, remove the vanilla bean and star anise.  Pour into ½ pint jars and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.  Remove from the pot and cool.

For all your hard work you will be rewarded with the most luscious marmalade, fit for toast, cheese, or spoon…          
The Lovely Quince on Punk Domestics

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Punk Domestics

Just wanted to point out the new 'badge' on Kitchenkapades...'Punk Domestics'  It is a great site with lots of wonderful foodie info. from tecniques to recipes.  Hopefully I will be posting on their site in the future and as always I will let you know.  But do check them out if you don't already know of it's a pretty great thing!