Sunday, August 22, 2010

Strawberry Lemonade Marmalade

I found this recipe on another local blogger's site, The Errant Cook , and decided it would make a good first try at home canning. .  Since I consider her also to be a friend, I asked if she would mind if I blogged about making the recipe.  She generously agreed, and only asked that proper credit be given to Doris and Jilly Cook, where the recipe originated.  If you click on the hyperlink for "The Errant Cook", you will be taken to her post about making the same recipe.  If you click on the hyperlink for "Doris and Jilly Cook", you will be taken to the actual recipe.

I remember helping my mother and oldest sister do some canning way back when, but I had never tried it on my own.  The original recipe is actually titled, "Strawberry Lemon Marmalade", but the finished product reminded me a lot of strawberry lemonade, so I renamed it.  I had some Ball canning jars, lids, and rings in the garage so the only immediate cost was for the lemons, strawberries, and sugar.

Starting out with a bag of lemons, I selected 5 small to medium ones.  I cut off the ends of each lemon and made sure the pith (white part covering the lemon flesh) wasn't too thick.  Next, I used the mandolin slicer to thinly slice the lemon, rind and all.

I chopped the lemons and placed them in a 5-quart dutch oven.  They were covered with water (no real measurement, just about an inch above the lemons).  I boiled them for five minutes, then turned off the burner.  The recipe directs you to leave the lemons on the stove overnight.  I did, but the next day I realized I couldn't finish the marmalade, so I put the lemons in the refrigerator.  In the meantime, I sliced up a quart of strawberries and put sugar over them.  I left them in the refrigerator, too.

After the strawberries and sugar had made a sufficient amount of juice, I took them out and smashed them with a potato masher.  This made them nice and pulpy.

The lemons were poured back into the 5-quart dutch oven and added the strawberries.  The recipe called for 3 cups of sugar, but I added about 3/4 cup more after reading how some people thought the recipe was a bit too tart.  I cooked the fruit mixture over medium-low heat until it started to boil.  

The flame was reduced enough to keep the mixture at a low boil, which kept splatters to a minimum.  (I used a high-heat silicone-based plastic spoon to stir the mix on a regular basis.  I found the spoon at The Stock Pot in Tulsa.)  In the meantime, I put the canning lids in hot water in a shallow pan to heat thoroughly.  This is so the seals are properly prepared.  I didn't have a water bath, so I filled my pressure cooker 3/4-full of water and began to heat it to a boil.  I didn't have a jar rack, either, so I crumpled several pieces of aluminum foil and heated them with the water. 

Since there is no pectin in this recipe, it took a long time to get thick.  After about 30 minutes or more, the mixture started to cook down.  After about an hour, it was a rich ruby color flecked with bright yellow particles.  
I had to ask "The Errant Cook" how to know when the marmalade was ready, as I couldn't see it actually jelling (again, probably because there is no pectin in the mixture) and I was having trouble finding this information on the internet.  She graciously told me to chill a small plate in the freezer.  After the plate is chilled, you take a spoon of the mix and place it on the plate.  Turning the plate on its side, if the mixture runs, it's not ready to can.  If it stays in place, it has jelled. It turned out my marmalade was ready to can, so I got out the Back to Basics Canning Tools (a set I also purchased at The Stock Pot), which includes a jar lifter, a magnetic lid lifter, canning funnel, kitchen tongs, and a jar wrench.  I had prepared the jars and rings by running them through the dishwasher, so they were clean and dry.  I carefully filled seven jars and two small baby food jars.  The lids were removed from the hot water and placed on the jars.  The jar rings were placed on and tightened.  I used the jar lifters to transfer the hot, filled jars to the homemade water bath.  I had one casualty. 
After picking up the glass and metal and mopping up the mess as best I could, I transferred the other jars to the water bath.  I carefully set the jars into the aluminum foil crumples and made sure the jars were not touching.  I added more hot water to the pot, covering the jars by 2 - 3 inches.  The jars were boiled for 10 minutes.  I lifted the jars out and placed them on a kitchen towel to cool.  I listened as the jar lids made their distinctive pops and wheezes indicating that they were properly sealed.  I later checked to verify that the jars were properly sealed and they were, with the exception of the baby food jars.  As they were used jars, the lids didn't seal and actually popped off in the water bath.  The marmalade remained in the jars, so I poured off the water and replaced the lids.  I put these jars in the refrigerator, along with the small amount of extra marmalade that was left over.  (NOTE:  If the jars don't seal, you can safely refrigerate the jelly for several weeks.)  As the jars cooled, I cleaned the kitchen and properly mopped the floor.  

I finished up with 6- 1/2-pint jars (7, if you count the one that broke) and 2 small baby food jars of marmalade.  I loved the ease of the recipe and the flavor was incredible!  With each bite, you get the sweetness of the strawberries and just enough of the tartness from the lemons.  It's really a complex mix of flavors.  The finished jars also looked very pretty with the different colors showing through the glass.  

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