Last night, I gave what we hope to be one of the many Jam-a-longs this coming year.
What’s a jam-a-long? Well, I’ve given dozens of canning workshop/classes and found out that, after getting into the nitty gritty of putting up, folks just want to hang out with others and have fun.
So, the Jam-a-Long* was a response to that communal desire for a social gathering. Now, each month, we’ll jam and jar up seasonal fruits
The first Jam-a-Long was in winter and, for So Cal, that means lots of citrus. Where else in the world can one harvest fresh fruit in the middle of winter? And that can only mean one thing to a seasoned canner: a sweetly tart spread better know as MARMALADE!
These events give me the opportunity to share my experiences (successes and failures) and tips I’ve learned along the way after so many years of doing it.
When I first was brave enough to tackle marmalades, some batches were better than others. I learned that to make good marmalade, one thing is key – patience. In the making of marmalade you’re using the natural fruit as pectin (pith, rind, seeds, skins, etc.).
A fellow city homesteader brought us a jar of her recent canning endeavors – tangerine marmalade. However, the mixture didn’t quite set so she cutely labeled it “We’ve All Been There – Tangerine Syrup.” Her sense of humor certainly brought a smile to my face and I used this to show the folks at the jam-a-long last night that even runny marmalades are salvageable – just cleverly name it something else!
So, that brings us to tips for making marmalade. Here are 5 … of course, there are more (see links below!)
1. Patience. You are dealing with natural pectins, so let nature do her job for you, even if that means having the mixture sit overnight.
2. Small Batches. Don’t use more than 4 lbs of fruit. If you do, multiply the pots not what’s in the pot. One time I thought I was saving time by doubling the fruit mixture but that means to the mixture had to boil longer to reach soft jell stage and the mixture turned dark. It was edible but not very presentable! So these days when I have lots of fruit I have two or three or even four pots going on the stove at the same time.
3. Heavy Bottom Pots. I can’t say how investing in heavy bottom pots have made my improved my canning ventures. It’s worth the investment… saved a many a mixture from burn to the bottom.
4. Do Not Disturb. When your mamalade is go to boil, disturb as little as possible. Meaning gently stir. You don’t want to break up the gorgeous peels. In in end you want to your marmalade to glow like sunshine, and not be “cloudy.”
5. Rest. After your marmalade reaches jell point (220) Take it off the stove and let it “rest” before jarring. This helps evenly settle the peels so you don’t have a separation of peels going to the top.
To see what workshops are coming up next, check out our online calendar
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*Disclaimer: Note that this jam-a-long is totally different from the jam-a-long music sessions at the Sunday Hoot although musicians and canners are allowed to attend either one!