Snowed in? Make marmalade!
Here in the Mid-Columbia we are suffering through the worst winter in decades. It started snowing in early December and hasn’t stopped. Let me rephrase that – it didn’t stop until the other day when it started showering down freezing rain instead! Monday brought another half-inch of fluffy, white snow. On a day when the forecast called for 0% chance of precipitation. I guess weather forecasting isn’t an exact science.
Now this shouldn’t be an issue, except that I really dislike winter. Luckily I work from home and don’t have to venture out onto the slushy, icy roads. But then I feel trapped. The best way to ameliorate this feeling is to cook. So when I saw Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars fame launch a new Mastery Challenge, I jumped. I am especially thrilled that January’s challenge is Marmalade.
The Joys of Marmalade
You know those little, white containers of preserves some restaurants serve with breakfast? Some people grab the strawberry jam to spread on their toast. Others, mostly kids, go for the grape jelly. But even as a child I chose the orange marmalade. Since no one else in the family liked marmalade we never had any at home, so I thought those mini-containers were the bees knees.
Then I grew up and started making my own marmalade. Much better. Sadly I am still the only one in the family who loves marmalade, so I don’t make it very often. Occasionally I make a batch of Meyer Lemon Marmalade. Some years I make traditional orange or even a four-citrus marmalade. But this time it was a very different Kumquat Vanilla Marmalade.
What Are Kumquats?
Kumquats are cute little citrus fruits. They look like miniature oranges, ones you would perhaps find in a fairy garden. Like most citrus, they arrive in the grocery stores around the holidays. Kumquats are meant to be eaten whole, peel and all. Although they are sweeter than eating a whole orange, the peel still has a bitter-sour edge to it. Kumquats go well with other seasonal fruit like cranberries, papaya and oranges.
Making the Marmalade
Marmalade requires a bit more attention than jam-making, but you don’t have to be an expert cook to make your own batch. Plus, it’s the perfect project if you, like me, are getting itchy to start canning season. The finished jars are a transparent golden yellow jelly, dotted with the black vanilla, surrounding the miniature kumquat “wheels.” Can’t wait to lather it on a homemade muffin.
- 1 lb fresh kumquats, washed and sliced in rounds
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- Combine sliced kumquats and water in a large saucepan or Dutch oven.
- Let sit 8 hours or overnight.
- Add sugar and slowly bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Scrape the vanilla bean and add the paste to the marmalade.
- Cook rapidly until it reaches the gelling point, about 220 degrees.
- Spoon marmalade into clean, ½ pint jars. Top with two-piece caps.
- Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
Don’t forget to keep track of your projects in a Canning Journal. You do have a canning journal, right? Check out my Etsy site (if you don’t see what you like now send me a message, or keep watching for new additions). Or make your own canning journal. But do log your projects!
Brush up on water bath canning basics with this quick tutorial.