A new year of preserving begins
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 email@example.com.