A new year of pre­serv­ing be­gins

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FOOD - Mar­garet Prouse

Mar­malade is of­ten made in the win­ter, dur­ing the short pe­riod when bit­ter, sour Seville or­anges are avail­able. How­ever, or­anges and other cit­rus fruits can also be com­bined with noncitrus fruit to make a dif­fer­ent style of mar­malade, one that is nei­ther as clear and bit­ter as the clas­sic mar­malades nor as opaque and sweet as jams. It bridges the gap be­tween mar­malade and jam.

That is what I made last week: rhubarb mar­malade. Our rhubarb patch has been do­ing well this year. We’ve had a few pies and some stewed rhubarb, I’ve put some away in the freezer, and here was an op­por­tu­nity to pre­serve some in another way.

I have a sen­ti­men­tal rea­son for mak­ing it, too. My late mother-in-law’s favourite thing to do with rhubarb was to make rhubarb-ginger jam. She loved the flavour com­bi­na­tion, and any­thing with rhubarb and ginger re­minds me of her.

A friend gave me the recipe, which she had adapted slightly from an orig­i­nal by adding le­mons, and I adapted her recipe a lit­tle by pro­cess­ing the filled 250 mL bot­tles for 10 min­utes in a boiling wa­ter bath to en­sure a re­ally good seal. This was a lit­tle awk­ward, as the recipe yielded nine 250-mL bot­tles and my boiling wa­ter can­ners can ac­com­mo­date only seven bot­tles each, so I had two can­ners bub­bling away on the stove­top. Al­ter­nately, one could process seven jars, bot­tle the ex­cess, store it in the re­frig­er­a­tor and use it first.

All the com­po­nents for mak­ing a set are present in the recipe: pectin from the cit­rus rind and mem­branes; acid, which ar­rives via rhubarb, or­anges and le­mons; and sugar.

Here is how Mary’s recipe goes, with my mod­i­fi­ca­tion. Note that my mar­malade did not reach the jam stage in 10 min­utes as sug­gested in the recipe. I con­tin­ued test­ing it at two-minute in­ter­vals for about 10 more min­utes, and even then, the re­sult was a soft spread­able mar­malade.

To test for set, I first chilled six lit­tle plates in the freezer. It was un­likely that I’d need that many, but I like to have enough chilled so as not to in­ter­rupt the process. At 10 min­utes, I spooned about 15 mL (1 tbsp) of the boiled mix­ture onto one of the plates, and re­turned it to the freezer for two min­utes. If the chilled mix­ture hadn’t reached jam con­sis­tency at the end of two min­utes, i.e. mov­ing slowly when the plate is tilted, I retested af­ter boiling the mix­ture for two more min­utes, re­peat­ing un­til it was set to my sat­is­fac­tion.

To pre­pare the bot­tles, wash them, place in the rack of a can­ner, add enough wa­ter to fill the bot­tles and cover them by at least 2.5 cm (1 inch). Place the can­ner over high heat and keep hot un­til time to fill them

Mary’s Rhubarb Ginger Mar­malade

1.5 L (6 cups) rhubarb (cut into 1.3 cm/½ inch pieces) 1.5 L (6 cups) white sugar 4 medium or­anges 2 le­mons 25 mL (2 tbsp) ground ginger Com­bine rhubarb and sugar. Let stand 4 hours or overnight. Re­move rind from or­anges and le­mons. Cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) thin strips. Cover with wa­ter and bring to boil, re­duce heat and sim­mer for 15 min­utes. Drain. Chop or­ange and le­mon pulp. Re­move and dis­card seeds. In a large saucepan com­bine all in­gre­di­ents, ex­cept for rind, and bring to rolling boil. Con­tinue to boil un­til jam stage is reached (10 min­utes ap­prox­i­mately). Add cooked rind. Stir for five min­utes, skim­ming foam from sur­face. La­dle mar­malade into a hot jar, stir with a rub­ber or wooden spat­ula to re­move air bub­bles, wipe the rim with a clean, damp cloth, and cover with a two-piece snap lid. Cover one jar be­fore fill­ing the next. Place filled bot­tles in the rack of the boiling wa­ter can­ner, lower rack into the hot wa­ter, cover the can­ner, and bring to a boil over high heat. Start tim­ing when the wa­ter reaches a full rolling boil. And af­ter 10 min­utes, turn off the heat, re­move the cover from the can­ner, and leave jars where they are for five min­utes. Then lift them out of the hot wa­ter and place on folded tow­els or news­pa­pers, or a wooden board, and let cool undis­turbed for 12 to 24 hours. Mar­garet Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writ­ing her at RR#2, North Wilt­shire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at mar­garet@is­land­gusto.com.

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