Friday, January 22, 2010

Winter Citrus Can Jam

I don't know if it's the recent prolonged cold spell, or simply the usual drab, dullness of winter, but I can't seem to get enough citrus in my life these days. I'm not alone here, either. Studio Choo's recent Citrus & Rosemary post, along with Grace's nod (both on Design Sponge) to the puckery fruits bear witness to just how enamored many of us seem to be lately with all things citrus. Even the New York Times' own Mark Bittman recently posted this recipe extolling the unparalleled flavor of the brightly colored orbs (with a hint of tarragon, no less-genius!).

And for good reason. Winter is peak time for a number of citrus fruits. From clementines to honeybells (I hate to pick favorites, but, if backed into a corner and forced to choose camps, I'd choose honeybells), grocery stores and produce stands are currently offering a veritable orchard of citrus delights. I'm just as large an advocate of eating seasonally as I am eating locally, and the season for citrus is right now. The nutritional profile and flavor of offerings from Temple oranges to Honey tangerines are top tier. And so, today's small measure is all about enjoying, and whenever possible, extending (via home canning) the deliciousness of winter citrus.

My husband and I both have family in Florida. Mine recently festooned us in person with a smattering of everything from meyer lemons to grapefruits and kumquats, while his just shipped us our annual allotment from a neighboring orchard. Suffice to say, we're awash in a world of citrus. To use up our glorious orbs, I made this Roasted Orange Tart. I've squeezed fresh juice for breakfast. I'm considering a citrus trifle from this lady. I also padded around in my p.j.'s earlier this week and created a Triple Citrus & Star Anise Marmalade.

As a participant in the ongoing year-long "Can Jam" challenge hosted by blogger Tigress in a Jam (as well as Tigress In a Pickle), I knew I needed to concoct something citrusy anyways. Each month, Tigress (or her participants) choose one seasonally available ingredient to render into a canned item. This month's selection was the general category of "citrus." Lucky me. I've got everything I need on hand, and then some. The sweet and sour blend is perfect for hot buttered toast, the anise giving it just the perfect hint of licorice-y sweetness and intrigue. You could also plop a dollop into thumbprint cookies or even spoon some over roasted chicken.

In the meantime, I've still got that mountain of citrus to contend with. Any suggestions you might have would be immensely appreciated!

Triple Citrus & Star Anise Marmalade

Yield: Approximately 7 pint jars.

The Goods:

-4 tangerines

-4 oranges

-4 lemons

-6 c. water

-6 star anise

-6 c. granulated sugar

The Deal:

-Place two small plates in the freezer (these will be used later to test for gelling).

-Quarter all of the fruits. Once quartered, separate the peel from the flesh. Chop the flesh up into small pieces, removing seeds as you see them. Place seeds in a muslin tea bag. The seeds contain a good deal of pectin and will aid in thickening the marmalade. Thinly slice the peel into long strips, then cut the strips into smaller, 1/2-inch pieces.

-Put seed bag, fruit flesh, sliced peel, and water in a heavy, large stainless steel soup or stock pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 5 minutes, cover, and remove from heat. Allow to cool at room temperature overnight or for at least 8 hours.

-Remove lid from pot, and place over medium heat. Add star anise. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer; cook for 15 minutes. Add sugar, stir, and continue cooking over low heat for 45 minutes or until mixture reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

-About 30 minutes into the cooking time, you'll want to begin prepping the canner, jars, and lids. Sterilize 7 pint-sized mason jars, lids, and screw. Fill a canner or large stockpot with water and set over medium-high heat. Bring just to boiling point. Place lids in a small saucepan, fill with water, bring to a boil, turn off heat, remove from stovetop, and set aside.

-Test for gelling. Remove one plate from the freezer and spoon about 1 tsp. of the marmalade onto it. Place back in the freezer and wait two minutes. Remove the plate from the freezer and push the edge of the marmalade with your fingertip. If it is gelled properly, the surface will wrinkle a bit. If it fails to wrinkle, or is obviously still runny, continue cooking the marmalade for 5 minutes longer and then repeat the test.

- Place hot jars on top of a kitchen cloth on the counter. Remove seed bag from marmalade, squeezing to remove any juices. With the help of a canning funnel, pack marmalade into jars, reserving ¼ -inch headspace. I added one star anise to each jar for aesthetic purposes, but feel free to just remove and compost them if you'd prefer. Use a non-metallic spatula to remove any trapped air bubbles and wipe rims clean with a damp cloth. Place on lids and screw bands, tightening only until fingertip-tight.

- Using a jar lifter, place jars in canner. Process 15 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remember to adjust for altitude. Check to se that the jars have sealed properly, label, and store in a cool, dark area.

*This article is cross-posted today on Design Sponge.


Amber said...

Om Nom Nom! We just had a friend leave us a box of clementines, and I've been tearing the little sweet globes apart like a madwoman!

It's getting so cold again. I'm excited to see my first mountain Spring, and the delicious little burst of citrus is helping me get through this winter. :)

Anonymous said...

Oooh, yummy! Nice job!

Anonymous said...

Looks awesome!

Anonymous said...

It all sounds soooooo good.

Anna said...

So many good ideas for using citrus. The tart looks so intriguing and I've recently been thinking about trying to make marmalade!

Anita said...

With a rainy day like today, I could use a little citrus pick-me-up! I wish I had family in Florida...I think I'd go visit them for the rest of the winter. I'm done with it already.

EcoGrrl said... dwarf meyer lemons are budding and I hope I can help them through the winter next to my south-facing window so I can create something like this myself :)

mesaverde said...

very interesting info. thanks for the tips also.

Catalina said...

Ooo yummy! I love the spices in your marmalade!