Saturday, December 17, 2005

Preserves attempt #1: a bust

Here was how my night went:
Decided to set much-needed sewing aside (having spent all afternoon writing two CD reviews), and figured I'd try my first canning experience. I chose tangerine marmalade, since Satsuma mandarin oranges are so sweet and in season.

7:00 or there about: started zesting grapefruit and lemons, and cutting up fruit. This should be a breeze, right? Have to simmer for 45 minutes, then boil for 20, so I should be out of here in no time!

Fast forward to after 10:00: I'm slicing little slivers of tangerine peels. What a process, let me tell you. Not to mention how difficult it is to cut up 2 lbs of fruit and being careful to remove seeds and membranes and pith...and those all get tied up in a cheesecloth bag so the pectin can be released.

Midnight: the kettle is way past the time limit and it's still not reaching the correct temp. Perhaps the pot I'm using is too thick. Perhaps I should have turned the heat up more. Sugar is warming in the oven, as are the sterilized jars.

2:00am: Set my alarm for an hour to try to get a nap in while the mixture cools and gets a film on top. It never did seem to reach 220 degrees, but it HAS to be done after all this boiling, right? Right?

3:00am: Hmmm, no film. Screw it, I'm pouring it in the jars anyway.

3:40am: Cleaning little drops of sticky, syrupy stuff off the stove. Dishes washed and put away.

4:10am: Jars finally filled and reboiled to seal.

4:15am: In bed at the same time I got up for work the day before yesterday.

This morning I got up to find the jars full of liquid. The stuff never set up. All that work and time for naught. I guess I'll try to add commercial pectin and reboil and buy new lids (lids can't be reused), and see if I can salvage anything. The ironic part is....I don't know of anyone who likes marmalade other than my mom. I was just trying to learn, and I never realized this was going to be such a process.

Then my favorite coffee cup fell off the computer desk and broke into several pieces. At least I can mosaic those. Maybe I should go back to bed....


Blogger quiltpixie said...

I tried making jam once..... ended up with a lot of ice cream topping sauce!

Sounds like a long night; hope you like the flavour at least.

4:48 PM  
Blogger tweety said...

Awww, Barb, I'm sorry to hear that. I've never made jam and canned it, I guess I'm afraid to because I've never seen it done, only read about it. I would love to, though, because I like the look of jams in their jars aligned in the pantry. I know, I'm weird. Anywho, don't feel bad, my Spingerle I made the other day was a big old dud!

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a let-down to check and find that all your hard work didn't produce the results you wanted. My friend and I tried making cantaloupe preserves one time, and conveniently forgot that we were at a very high altitude in Colorado! Same thing...nothing set up. We just sat there and laughed, and then we spooned some of it out and tasted it...Yum!

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I highly suggest the commercial pectin. I've been The Jam Queen among my friends for years, and sometimes the easy way out isn't so rotten. For best results gather all your fruit from friends trees or what nots.
My fav's are the rabbleberry(raspberry w/ a handful of blackberries), 5-7 plum ridiculous jam w/ halves of giant plums, apricot or white peach w/ lavender-big hit.
somedays all you need is a big wooden spoon and a 'Chester'-copper-pot.
fruit,lemon juice, pat of butter (for the foam), pectin. Boil, add sugar and boil for 2 min. All the time the jars and lids are in a pot of water on the back burners. Pull 'soup' off of burners, de-foam, get jars and lids out, fill immediately screw on lids, do quick wipe down and turn upside down. Just for 5 min. Turn over and wait til they all pop. It's wonderful and can be done by one person, two's ok, but more accomplishing by yourself.
C'est la!

12:05 PM  

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