I’m not sure what possessed me? I have always wanted to be that person with homemade jars of stuff on their shelves. Perhaps it was all that watching of Little House on the Prairie and my love of Anne of Green Gables (especially the story where Anne makes her best friend drunk with currant wine instead of raspberry cordial!). It seems that people just knew how to make everything and preserve it. I decided that I’ve seen and read plenty of inspirational movie scenes and books to create my own award winning jar of marmalade.
My experiment started with putting on State Fair, the 1945 version with Jeanne Crain. The mother, played by Fay Bainter, creates fair ribbon winning pickles! I figured the skill and talent would ooze from the screen to my fingertips. As the musical sung in the background, I opened my Better Homes Canning magazine and got all of my supplies ready. I was happily set for success as I sang “It’s a Grand Day for Canning”! (Sorry for those that don’t get the musical reference)
I must tell you that just getting my supplies was a challenge for this event. I don’t think we have a lot of people canning in Pasadena? Or maybe there are tons and they purchased all of the supplies? I ended up at four different stores before I found my basic supplies at OSH hardware. I purchased a basic kit from Ball which seemed like a good idea as the same items were used in the magazine. I also got a canning pot with a rack, oh and of course half pint jars. I went with half pint because I just couldn’t think of anyone eating a pint of marmalade?
I decided to follow the directions in the magazine cause these people were pretty convincing that they knew what they were doing or at least knew a lot more than me. I also talked the plans through with a couple of friends that were equally unqualified as me, so I was completely ready for this.
Here’s the marmalade recipe ingredients:
4 medium oranges (I used a Cara Cara navel orange from trees from my friend Lucas) They are a beautiful pink orange so they made a beautiful marmalade color.
1 medium lemon
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
5 cups sugar
1/2 of a 6 ounce package (1 foil pouch) liquid fruit pectin (I had a 1.75 oz of pectin in a foil pouch so I think next time I will buy and use more pectin. I had a foil pouch of fruit pectin though, so I’m counting this as a win!)
I began pretending that I was a pioneer woman and multi tasked my process. I washed my dozen half pint jars and placed them in my canner on the stove to boil and sterilize. As these were taking forever to boil, I began prepping my lemon and oranges.
Step 1. (From the magazine). Using a paring knife, score the peel of each orange and lemon into four lengthwise sections; remove peels with your fingers. Scrape off the white portions of peels with the knife; cut peels into very thin strips. In a saucepan combine peel strips, 1 1/2 cups water, and the baking soda. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally; do not drain.
I prepped and cut ingredients before I put anything into a saucepan. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to do step 2 so I thought I better have the oranges cut and ready before. I worked with the lemon first and realized that I should prep the fruit like my dad taught me for fruit salad. Scraping the white portion of peel wasn’t quite working, so I cut a thin layer off when I started the oranges. I mangled my lemon but was hoping that wouldn’t make a ton of difference.
I uncrossed my fingers and began step 2.
Step 2. (from the magazine). Cut away any white portions on oranges and lemon. Working over a bowl to catch the juice, section oranges and lemon; discard seeds. Stir orange and lemon sections and juice into peel mixture. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
Cutting with a sharp paring knife made the job pretty easy. I had super dull stupid knives before Christmas so thanks to my parents this project was not a cutting frustration.
Sectioning the oranges is a little time consuming but you just slide the knife before and after the segments of the fruit. As you can see, once I remembered how my dad showed me, I had the method down.
After I had all of my cutting prep work complete, I began cooking items per the directions.
Step 3. (From the magazine). Transfer fruit mixture to an 8 to 10 quart heavy pot; stir in sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in pectin. Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the foam? But like magic, foam appeared and I followed the directions and skimmed it off the top as quickly as I could with a metal spoon. (I felt a little like Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom when he makes Chinese food. If you don’t know this reference, watch this hilarious movie!)
Step 4. (From the magazine). Ladle hot marmalade into hot sterilized half pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids and screw bands.
So while all this marmalade cooking and foam collecting was going on, I had jars boiling and sterilizing on the stove. I removed them with my jar lifter and placed them on a kitchen towel on the table. Using the funnel, I ladled marmalade into the jars until it reached almost the top. The first rim of the jar is 1/4 inch according to my ruler and the magazine directions. You don’t want any air in the jar so you have to release bubbles if there are any.
I was unable to snap pictures of the ladling and lid tightening because I needed both of my hands. I could have used more hands but I think I’ll just be happy I don’t have more and can’t be the freak at the circus. Maybe I’ll invite a friend to help next time and they can be covered in sticky marmalade like myself and the kitchen. I had no idea how that marmalade ended up on shelves and body parts but my jars were very clean!
Step 5. (From the magazine). Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks. Let stand at room temperature for two weeks before serving. Makes 6 half pints.
I think I spent about 4 hours and made 5 half pints! It said it would take 55 mins prep time and 20 mins cook time, but because I was no expert…it took me forever. I also didn’t want to deviate from the directions not even to double the recipe to make more jars. I figured I’d learn from this first time and be able to increase my quantity later. It definitely seems you’d want to make more in the batch if you’re going through the trouble of home canning.
None of the steps were difficult but there were a few things that I was unsure of such as wiping the jars? I used a new clean paper towel each time. My next plan is to chat with people that have more knowledge and gain their handy hints for my next attempt. Each of my can lids popped, so they say that’s success in the home canning process. If the lid doesn’t bulge, I think I’m not in danger of killing anybody. To be safe, I’ll tell any marmalade recipient to eat it quickly just in case! Wish me luck with the next batch and if you’re an avid canner, leave your tips in the comments. Thanks and happy canning.