Welcome to Herbs and Spice! Two things have always fascinated me: herbs and spices, and cooking. I'm always looking for new ways to use the herbs from my garden(and other people's), and forever trying and testing new recipes. So sharing my loves of all things garden and kitchen seemed to be the natural thing to do. I hope my blog will inspire you in your own garden or kitchen, so enjoy!
Well, yesterday certainly was a productive day in terms of canning- I made cherry preserves, more plum jam, and lemon marmalade. everything was an unqualified success, except for one thing: the preserves. Of course, the cherries floated to the top, but a weird thing happened.Everything BELOW the cherries jelled, but the layer with the cherries in it didn't. Does anyone know why this might be?
I can't for the life of me figure out why that happened, especially since I thought I'd read somewhere that cherries are naturally high in pectin. I'm sure they'll taste really good, and all the jars sealed; but I'm going to store them in the refrigerator just to be sure. So half failure, half success. I need to figure out where I went wrong and make another batch. Another question for you canners out there: has anyone used the Tattler reusable canning lids? I was wondering how well they worked...I'm not inclined to pay money for them if they're not effective. If you're not familiar with them, you can check them out at the link above.
Here are the results of yesterday's venture:
They're so pretty in the window! And having taste tested with my hubby, I can vouch for the fact that they are all delicious and husband-approved for consumption.
so without further ado, here are the pics for my "marmalade" experiment:
Juicing the lemons, something I normally HATE doing. Just didn't feel that lemon juice from concentrate was what I wanted for this experiment though. I added zest from a couple lemons to the mix, too. Side note: that juicer in the picture there is the most durable thing. My MOM got that as a wedding present...35 years ago. And it's still running like a charm.Let me tell you, for doing a reasonable amount of this type of citrus juicing, this thing can't be beat. It took me less than 3 minutes to juice all two dozen of my lemons.
Simmering the lemon juice and peels. I have to say, by far the most tedious part of marmalade is slicing up all those little pieces of lemon rind. You have to peel out the leftover pulp and the inner membrane and as much of the bitter white part as possible and cut it into thin strips. My hands were really hurting by the time I was done! But anyway, here it is on the stove, simmering away after all the prep was done. I simmered it for about 30 minutes to let the rinds soften up some and release as much essential oil into the juice as possible. That way you get maximum flavor, and nice, tender rinds that won't feel like little bits of leather in the jelly. I had some homemade marmalade once where they didn't simmer it, and it was nasty!
Stirring in the pectin. I used 1 packet of regular Sure-jell, and after I heated the juice up to a boil, I added the pectin and stirred thoroughly until I was sure it was dissolved. You have to work quickly at this stage, because once you have added the pectin, you're on a time clock. Pectin can't cook too long, or it will loose it's effectiveness and won't jell properly. I was really doing a balancing act trying to get pictures and stir at the same time...without dropping the camera into the juice. I'm not sure Dale would have appreciated that!
I thought I would include this picture, too, because I like it. I was still stirring the pectin, and somehow I came out with this great swirly shot of the juice and rinds. Ok, so I thought it looked cool...I guess it's the photographer in me that gets caught by this sort of silliness. Amazing I got something neat like that from a cheap point-and-shoot. A Lemon Whirlpool! Anywho, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, instructions for making marmalade.
So after stirring in the pectin, I added the sugar. About 7 cups, allowing for the tartness of the lemons. Normally for this quantity of liquid(about 6 cups) I would use around 5 cups of sugar, but I figured since I was using lemons I would need to counter the sourness of the lemons with some extra. Here you can see the syrup is almost at a full boil. Boil it at a full rolling boil for ONE minute, then immediately remove the pan from the heat to stop cooking (remember about not overcooking the pectin?). What you DON'T see here is me dealing with the results of a boil over, LOL.
And here is the marmalade after being ladled into hot jars...yeah, I use a ladle. Funnels are for sissies. Make sure to wipe off the rims with a clean paper towel though before you put the lids on so you get a good seal. Then it was off to the water bath for ten minutes(I wish I could have a long hot bath...jelly is so lucky). All went well, and they all sealed immediately after being pulled out of the water. All done. Now I just have to figure out what went wrong with those darn cherries...you know, it's really been driving me nuts the whole time I've been writing this. I'm going to have to get more and figure it out. And a cherry pitter, but that's a whole n'other story...
so now what? All I have left is canning the rhubarb sauce. Then I'm going to be depleted of projects! At least until next payday. Maybe I need to paint some furniture or something...