Orange You Glad I Made Marmalade!

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)

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

imageI 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!)

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Sparkling Strawberries

A friend of mine had a few friends over recently.  Several of us haven’t seen each other since before Early December so there was much need to celebrate and catch up!  Since there were New Years resolutions and health conscious goals, I tried to find something to bring that was celebratory without being super rich like chocolate cake.  I found a recipe for Champagne Strawberries and adapted it a little.

This is an easy recipe but it’s not quick.  Allow at least a day to prepare.  I started with a basket of strawberries, roughly two dozen.  I washed them, dried them and put them into jars.

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Here’s the hardest part…I opened a bottle of sparkling wine and poured it over each jar of strawberries to fully cover them.  Try not to drink any until you’ve covered all of your strawberries.  (I ended up using the whole bottle for my three jars.)

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I put them in the refrigerator and soaked them for about 24 hours.

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The next day, I took the strawberries out of the jar and patted them dry.  I made a simple glaze.  I didn’t love it but it was ok for this time.  I just did powdered sugar, couple of teaspoons of milk and some vanilla extract. The recipe called for frosting in a can which I’m not a fan of.  I made the glaze just to drizzle over the berries.  It didn’t look as pretty as the frosting pics but it tasted good.

I tried one of the strawberries immediately from the jar and determined that if you can serve these immediately they would be best cause they retain some of the fizziness so it’s a fun bite.  If you can’t, they still are tasty.

I drizzled the glaze over the berries and sprinkled with rainbow sprinkles.  Rainbow sprinkles cover a mulitude of imperfections such as the berries not being completely in season!  Since the berries were soaked in booze and covered in glaze, it didn’t matter that they weren’t the sweetest on their own.  Place each berry on a cupcake wrapper and ta-da!  Super easy and looks sort of fancy.

has sugar and sparkling wine so it’s not really in the healthy category, but I’ll say it’s a win cause it’s way healthier than something else I could have made.

Find yourself a reason to celebrate and make these boozy berries sometime soon.

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A Clean Start!

It’s the time of year where there is change in the air and New Year’s resolutions weave into conversations as we make plans to conquer another year!  For me, perhaps because of the December that I went through, I am thankful for family and friends.  I’ve been trying to find ways to thank all of the special people that have carried me and help me grow through this journey.  I also just enjoy making things and I’m enjoying being creative again for a change.

My neighbors have been so nice and left me gifts and cards.  I decided to make some Honey Almond Chamomile soap that I found on Pinterest To give to them.  I chose a goats milk based soap and discovered that this recipe is really just mixing and not really creating from scratch.  I suppose all home based soap and candle creating is just mixing cause I don’t have any goats or bees.  I’ll still take credit for the soap but say thanks a lot to the goats and people at Stephenson Farms that made my soap base!

For my adaptation of this recipe, I didn’t want to make as much as the original recipe called for.

2 lbs goats milk soap base

2 tbsps ground up oatmeal

2 tbsps honey

2 1/2 chamomile tea bags

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

First I microwaved my 2 lbs of soap base.  I microwaved for a couple of minutes at a time and broke up the soap a little at a time.  I also used a bowl that I was getting rid of due to a chip because I didn’t like the idea of soap with my food bowls.

While I was microwaving and melting the base, I measured my oatmeal and chamomile tea into my mortar and pestle.  I mixed and ground up both items.

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After the base melted, you need to work fairly quickly so you can incorporate ingredients without the base separating and drying with a skin on the top.  It can be melted down again but I found the soap comes out creamier and better the less you reheat and handle it.

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Mix in the ground oatmeal and chamomile.  I put a little at a time so I could see the ratio of grains through the base.  You might decide to not put in as much as I did?


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After incorporating the dry ingredients, I added the honey, almond and vanilla extracts.

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I mixed everything thoroughly until it looked like I wanted it to.  I wanted a fairly even amount of grain to my base throughout.

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Next, I spooned the mixed soap into a silicone mold.  My mold had six 2″ rounds.  I was much messier in spooning my soap in the mold than you have to be!  It does clean up easily though if you are equally as messy or more.

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After they cooled, I decided to create crochet scrubber covers.  I didn’t follow a pattern for this so I’ll have to try to write out the steps involved later for any crocheters.  You can also message me here if you want me to figure that out for you sooner than later!

Happy soap “mixing” and Happy New Year!  Here’s to clean starts and a great 2016!


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