Thursday, February 9, 2012

When Good Jam Goes Bad

For me, there's nothing as wonderful as homemade marmalade at the end of winter.  It has all of the sweet tanginess of Spring, and the rich syrupy sweetness of winter.  All canned up in a tiny jar of happiness.  I had to make some.  

It looks so delicious.  The sweet tangy goodness of orange marmalade made with blood oranges for an extra tang.  This time, though, I wanted to take grandmother's recipe into this century.  I wanted something faster, easier, but just as tasty.  So I went online for some help - and I found it!  This was going to be a breeze.

The ingredients are the same, I even added candied ginger for a little extra zip.

Blood oranges, sugar, vanilla and candied ginger.  I can taste the goodness already.

Now comes the easy, modern part.  You just chop up the oranges - rind, pith and pulp - by tossing them into a food processor.

There's no separating out the pith, carefully chopping the rind and cleaning each and every segment for the pulp.  How cool is that?

Looks tasty!  All those bits of orange that will turn into little sweet tangy bits of goodness with pieces of candied ginger.  I can't wait!

Put all of the chopped up orange into a bowl and measure it out a cup at a time.

Just use 1-1/2 cups of sugar for every 1 cup of orange goodness.  Easy!  So far it's only taken about 5 minutes.

Now we make it into marmalade.

Put a plate in the freezer. (We'll get back to that later.) And pour the fruit and sugar mixture into a non-reactive deep pan on the stove.  Turn on the heat and start stirring.  Keep at it until the temperature reaches 222-F.

This will take awhile to come up to temperature.  Now is a good time to brag to your Dear Honey about how this is not a waste of perfectly good oranges and what cute gifts the extra jars will make and finally how clever you are for finding this faster, easier way to make marmalade.  Yup.  Make sure you brag a lot.

When the temperature reaches 222-F, take the plate out of the freezer and pour a small amount onto it.  Give it a minute to set.  (Keep stirring the pot, or take it off the burner for a minute at this point.) And then push your finger into the marmalade.  It should wrinkle a little bit.  This means that it will set when you can it up.

Using your perfectly sterilized jars, lids, rings and funnel, pour your delicious batch of homemade quick marmalade into the jars.

Yum - oh - yum!  Leave about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch of empty space at the top of the jars.  Since this will go into the refrigerator once it is cooled, you don't have to be exact.  We won't be boiling them to vacuum seal them.  Just pop on the sterilized lids and rings then tighten to finger-snug.

There you have it!  6 jars of homemade marmalade.  And so quick and easy.  Let them sit on the counter to cool overnight while you go and explain to your Dear Honey just how clever you are at making this with your new time-saving ways.

The next morning, get up, toast an English muffin and spread a nice thick coating of the marmalade on it.  Sit down with your coffee and prepare to be amazed.

Amazed indeed!  Once the first bite of this vile concoction hits your taste buds, you too will be running for the garbage can!  Oh my goodness!!! This was the most horrible food product that my kitchen has ever produced.

There is a product called "Bitter Yuck!" that we sprayed on furniture legs when our pup was teething.  It was so awful that after spraying, we would have to leave the room until the vapors subsided.  It just burned our eyes, noses and throats.

This version of marmalade was essentially homemade "Bitter Yuck!"

My Dear Honey would not eat it.  I could not eat it.  Even our sweet pup ran away when presented with a taste!


There was nothing to be done with it.  No saving or converting it into something resembling anything at all edible.

I tossed the whole batch.  Emptied and washed every jar and ring.  Threw out every lid.

In a few weeks I will take the 3 days to make some marmalade the way my grandmother did.  I will honor the ways of my family and trust them to know what is best for my marmalade needs.  But first I need to erase that putrid taste out of my mouth and out of my mind.

If you ever see a recipe for marmalade that recommends the method above, run, don't look back, run fast and far.  It is the worst thing I have ever tasted.

And that's saying a lot because I ended up with an earthworm in my mouth when I was gardening this past year.  This marmalade tastes worse then earthworms covered in compost.

Think about it.

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