Welcome to a new year and new possibilities. We suffered through a traditional southern New Years Day meal of black eyed peas, rice, greens and cornbread. I'm sorry to say that I still don't like greens (sorry Mom). I've had a series of false starts and missteps in the kitchen so far this year. Despite some dubious attempts at new recipes I am undaunted because as Albert Einstein said, "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."
Along with our dinners of partially burned steaks, greasy pork and other disappointing dishes, we've been enjoying the most wonderful, juicy and sweet tangelos. This citrus fruit is a hybrid of tangerines and either grapefruits or pomelos. There are several different varieties, but all are known for their juiciness and mild sweet taste. Knowing that citrus season won't last much longer, and thinking about all that juice, and because these are organic tangelos, it only made sense to try my luck at some marmalade.
It's important to use organic fruit when you're making marmalade because you will be using the whole fruit, peel and all. Last January I took my first step into the world of preserving and canning with Meyer Lemon Marmalade and enjoyed the bright taste of lemon for months after. Citrus fruits become ripe in the wintertime, so this is when you can find great deals on beautiful fresh and organic lemons, limes, oranges and other varieties. With my experience making marmalade last year, and lots more canning practice, I just knew this project would be a success. The process is simple, all you need is citrus fruit, water, sugar and time.
The first step is to thoroughly wash all the fruit and slice it as thinly as possible. I find it's easiest to cut each piece in half and remove the seeds and pith first, then use a mandoline for fine slicing. Save the seeds, and try to keep all the juice. The next step is to soak the fruit in water over night. This helps to soften the rinds. Some recipes instruct you to tie up the seeds in some cheesecloth and let them soak too. The seeds contain pectin which will help the marmalade to 'jell'.
Most recipes call for a lemon too so I threw one in. The next day you're all ready to make that marmalade. First, the fruit and water boil until the peels are teeth tender. Then the sugar (lots of sugar) is added and it's all boiled until it reaches the mysterious 'jelling point'. This is a few degrees higher than the boiling point of water, and can be tested in many ways. Apparently, I have not completely mastered these methods of watching and testing because my first batch turned out to be something more of a very thick syrup than a jammy consistency. In my eagerness to avoid overcooking the marmalade like I did last year, I was too quick to pull the pot off the heat. I'm guessing that it only needed another minute or two for perfection. My second batch I think I got it right.
A good marmalade should have yummy peels suspended in a golden, wobbly jelly. If you cook it too long, it will become very thick and candy like. If you don't cook it quite long enough, it will be syrupy. I had to divide this recipe in half and cook it in two batches because I don't have a saucepan big enough to accommodate the large quantity. I guess the only way to find that balance between too thin and too thick is to practice. After the two batches that were too thick last year, and the first that was too thin this year, I think the final jars this year are just right. The good news is that every single batch is absolutely scrumptious.
recipe modified from the Ball Blue Book guide to preserving
7 1/2 cups very thinly sliced tangelos; I used one 3lb bag
1 lemon sliced thin
seeds tied in a cheesecloth
1 1/2 quarts water ( that's 6 cups)
sugar; about 10 cups
Wash and slice all the fruit and collect the seeds.
Combine all ingredients except sugar in a large pot and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Cover and let stand in a cool place for 12 -24 hours. This can be left for 2 to 3 days according to some sources.
Put the pot of fruit and water back on the stove and boil until the peel is tender.
Now, measure the fruit/water combination again. You'll nee another large bowl or pot to transfer everything into while you're measuring. Measure about 1 cup of sugar for each cup of fruit/water mixture. Now mix it all up and place everything back on the heat. Bring to a full boil and cook, stirring constantly until the jelling point is reached. Remove from heat and ladle into hot jars.
If you divide this recipe and make a small batch, you can simply ladle the marmalade into clean jars and store it in the refrigerator. If you're making the full recipe, you'll probably want to can it. To do this, you'll need to ladle it into hot, sanitized jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Close with new lids and screw on the rings, then place in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes at a full boil. Remove from the water and let stand undisturbed for 24 hours. You will hear the lids pop quietly as they seal. If any do not seal, store in the refrigerator.