How do you tell I love canning a little too much? Here is how. When I packed for my month-long sojourn in Fort Lauderdale, I included a few kitchen essentials since I anticipated some simple cooking to keep my living expense in check. By simple, I had every intention to keep things uncomplicated. Perhaps a couple batches of cookies or brownies for a treat but nothing ambitious. As I became more comfortable in my daily schedule, the temptation of the gorgeous local fruit grew ever stronger. Finally, I broke down and bought a few organic blood oranges.
At first I mistook them for clementine because of their diminutive size. But upon closer inspection, they were unmistakably blood oranges with their deep crimson glow. I ate one and was immediately seduced by the sweetness. I knew right then that I had to make marmalade. Can you think of a better souvenir for a canning enthusiast? A few months from now, when I open a jar of my own marmalade made from in season local blood oranges, I’m sure it’ll be the most vivid reminder of my time here in South Florida.
It all began with the citrus. Following Sarah B. Hood’s direction for making marmalade, I juiced and sliced 2 Meyer lemons and 6 blood oranges into thin slivers. Their vibrant colour kept me cheerful along with the unusually comfortable temperature. Heat and humidity are not my friends when it comes to stirring a pot of bubbling hot preserve over the stove! I knew I needed canning jars, just not too many. Rather than the standard mason jars, I splurged for the very pretty Leifheit confiture jars and Le Parfait terrine jar that I found at The Container Store. I cannot buy these jars easily in Canada so it’ll be doubly special as my souvenir.
What I miscalculated was how greedy I was with the citrus. I only wanted to make a small batch but it did not take long before I realized I would have enough marmalade to fill 5 half-pint jars. An emergency canning jar run was in order! Fortunately, the local supermarket carries Ball mason jars at a very reasonable price. I snatched up the last dozen. When I looked down, I immediately knew I was not in Canada anymore.
Without my trusty digital thermometer, jar lifter, and magnet wand, it was time to get back to the basics. I recalled the numerous batches of marmalades I made last winter and carefully observed how the sugar evolved from one stage to another. With a bit of luck and a good eye, my batch of marmalade passed the cold plate wrinkle test at first try. Five half-pint jars were sterilized, filled, and processed without a hitch. Canning and preserving really is not difficult as long as you know the basics by heart.
I am now the proud owner of some gorgeous Blood Orange Meyer Lemon Marmalade that tastes of South Florida sunshine. The terrine jar was not processed on purpose because it was destined for immediate enjoyment. It will be joined by worthwhile companions in the form of homemade cinnamon raisin bread and Belle Chevre cinnamon breakfast goat cheese spread. The marmalade was also stirred into Greek yogurt and used in a citrus vinaigrette. I’m certain it’ll be long gone before I return home!
Here is my dilemma. After my emergency canning jar run, I am now left with 10 brand new empty jars. Surely I can’t allow them to stay empty? Perhaps, just perhaps, I’ll take advantage of the Florida strawberry season and fill them with strawberry jam? Oh I think I’m on the cusp of a slippery jamming slope.