There have been a number of exciting developments since I last wrote: Panda is home(!), Christmas, a birthday (holy crap is it weird to officially be a 30-something) and our second (annual?) New Year’s Eve smorgasbord dinner are now behind us. For both Christmas and my birthday, I got a number of exciting kitchen-related gifts, including the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, from which I took the method, if not the specific recipes that I’m writing about today.
Finally, marmalade success! When Panda and I were at Whole Foods shopping for stuff to feed to our New Year’s guests, she managed to stay focused on the produce we needed while we were in that section. I, meanwhile, couldn’t take my eyes off the blood oranges that had suddenly appeared and the Meyer lemons that were still sitting so coyly amongst a bunch of other citrus.
So, while she purchased a bunch of more immediately useful produce, we also walked out of the store with three pounds of the oranges and two pounds of Meyers. So, lessons learned:
- Test early, test often! I don’t know if I mentioned the pear-rubber debacle, but I know I’ve mentioned the last two miserable failures when trying to make marmalade with navels. I pulled out the candy thermometer on this one though, and while I never actually saw it get anywhere up near 220 degrees, I watched it like a hawk. What it really came down to though was, I think, that I started testing super early in the process – basically as soon as the bubbles had started to calm down and the color started to darken. The Meyer lemon has a firmer set – one I think I prefer for my biscuits, but I think the blood oranges with their slightly looser set will be nicer for spreading on toast and the like. Both, in any case, are delicious.
- Meyer lemons are powerful delicious. I know when I wrote about the lemon curd that I raved about the flavor of these lemons, but I have something else in mind at the moment. The emphasis should be on the powerful, specifically. I intended this to be a vanilla Meyer lemon marmalade, and I put a heaping two tablespoons of vanilla extract into my mixture (at the beginning of cooking – wonder if it’d’ve made a difference if I’d put it in just before the set?), but the lemons definitely overpowered the vanilla. No worries though – its still pretty G-D delicious.
- Names matter. OK, this isn’t really a lesson learned, but I spent a long time trying to think up a name for the blood orange marmalade. You see, this particular one has scotch in it (and I think I nailed the flavor of that one, by the way, if Blood of the Bruce, Wallace’s Confession, or possibly Lady Macbeth’s Left Hand. Get it? Blood? Scottisch? HAR! Lean towards Blood of the Bruce, in any case, as I like the alliteration.
In any case, an altogether fantastic marmalading experience – one I sorely needed after a serious preserving slump in December.