Monday, January 18, 2010

Preserved Lemons

I'm on a roll now! I went to the farmer's market yesterday and found a basket of big, gorgeous, lemons- three for a dollar- calling my name. I had no idea what to make of them, but I knew they were too good to pass up. On the way home I imagined lemon roasted chicken, pasta primavera with lemon, lemon dahl.. I knew I had to get these lemons into a jar before they ended up in a dish. So I chunked and tossed them with peppercorns, cinnamon bark, cloves, coriander seed, bay leaves and a good dose of salt, shoved them in a jar, topped off with good olive oil and sealed immediately. The jars a so darn pretty I might just use them as a decoration while they cure for the next two months.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saffron Spiced Marmelade

Winter is over, all two weeks of it! Yes, THIS is why I moved to Florida- and I wanted to celebrate by taking advantage of our signature crop: oranges. Okay, it also helped that citrus happens to be the theme of January's CanJam.

Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge

I wanted to do something fairly simple, this being only my second attempt at canning. I also wanted it to be versatile, for sweet or savory use. I flavored my marmelade with spices which can be found in almost all cuisines of the world. I added sugar to taste, just enough to take out any bitterness, not enough to make it very sweet. Here's how:

Begin with twenty lovely Florida oranges. I bought mine 10 for a dollar at Downtown Produce.Wash your produce with mild, soapy water, rinse well and pat dry. Use a five-hole zester to zest all of the oranges. Don't skimp, every bit is flavor!

Next, use a very sharp knife to remove most of the rind from the oranges, as seen in the first half of this video. Don't worry about getting every bit of white off the orange, a little bit will add a depth of flavor and bring the texture closer to an old-fashioned marmelade.

Cut the oranges in half through the equator, remove the seeds with the tip of the knife, and cut into rough chunks. You should end up with something like this:

In a medium pot, bring the oranges and two cups of water to a simmer. Cook for half an hour, stirring occasionally and picking out seeds that float to the top. I enlisted the help of my "master nose" to come up with the perfect blend of ground spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, cardomom, cloves, anise, coriander, ginger and saffron.

Add spices and 1 1/2 cups sugar and cook for another half hour. During this time, set your stove with everything you will need for canning your marmelade, and sterilize 8 half-pint jelly jars.

At the last minute, add 1 box fruit pectin to the marmelade, crank up the heat and bring to a hot and heavy boil for one minute (or to 220 degrees). It should look pretty close to this:

Ladle into jars, wipe rims, place on lids, and tighten rings. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Remove to a towel covered cutting board or sheet tray. Within seconds you should hear a beautiful popping sound. I like to count them, with growing excitement, to make sure all of the jars have properly sealed. Store the marmelade in a cool, dark place and forget about it. Seriously! It will be much better in a couple weeks when the pectin has set, or in the summer when you are suddenly taken over by a craving for perfectly ripe, deeply spiced, pure Florida sunshine.