The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders includes recipes like When Has a Preserve Finished Cooking?; English Marmalade; Italian Prune & Cardamom Conserve; and Brown Turkey Fig Jam with Sherry & Fennel.
Approximate Yield: eight 8-ounce jars
Shelf Life: 2 years
If you are a die-hard marmalade lover whose vision of marmalade resembles an ultra-thick-cut, treacly preserve redolent of wintry spice, this is the marmalade for you. Nothing quite matches its dark and very bitter flavor.
Place the orange eighths in a nonreactive kettle where they will fit snugly in a single layer. Add enough cold water for the fruit to bob freely. Cover tightly and let rest overnight at room temperature.
Place the orange slices in a second large nonreactive kettle and add water to cover the tops of the fruit by 2 inches. Cover the kettle tightly and let rest overnight at room temperature.
Bring both kettles to a boil, then decrease the heat to a lively simmer.
Cook the orange eighths, covered, for 3 hours, or until they are very soft and their liquid has become slightly syrupy.
Cook the orange slices, covered, for 2 to 3 hours, or until the rinds are very tender. As the fruit cooks, stir it gently every 30 minutes or so, adding a little more water if necessary. The water level should stay consistently high enough in both pans for the fruit to remain submerged as it cooks.
When the orange eighths have finished cooking, strain their juice by pouring the hot fruit and liquid into a medium strainer or colander suspended over a heatproof storage container or nonreactive saucepan. Cover the entire setup well with plastic wrap and let drip overnight at room temperature. When the orange slices have finished cooking, cover them tightly and let rest overnight at room temperature.
Place a saucer with five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the marmalade later.
Remove the plastic wrap from the orange eighths and their juice and discard the oranges. Strain the juice well through a very fine-mesh strainer to remove any lingering solids.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugars, cooked orange juice, star anise, and orange slices and their liquid, stirring well. Transfer the mixture to an 11 or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide nonreactive kettle.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Cook at a rapid boil until the setting point is reached; this will take a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes, but may take longer depending on your individual stove and pan. Initially, the mixture will bubble gently for several minutes; then, as more moisture cooks out of it and its sugar concentration increases, it will begin foaming somewhat. Do not stir it at all during the initial bubbling; then, once it starts to foam, stir it gently every few minutes with a heatproof rubber spatula. After several minutes of foaming, stir in the bourbon. As the marmalade gets close to being done, stir it slowly every minute or two to prevent burning, decreasing the heat a tiny bit if necessary. The marmalade is ready for testing when its color darkens slightly and its bubbles become very small.
To test the marmalade for doneness, remove it from the heat and carefully transfer a small representative half-spoonful to one of your frozen spoons. It should look shiny, with tiny bubbles throughout. Replace the spoon in the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment. Tilt the spoon vertically to see whether the marmalade runs; if it is reluctant to run, and if its top layer has thickened to a jelly consistency, it is done. If it runs, cook it for another few minutes. stirring, and test again as needed. Be careful not to overcook the marmalade, as it may continue to thicken slightly after it cools.
When the marmalade has finished cooking, turn off the heat but do not stir. Using a stainless-steel spoon, skim off any surface foam and discard. Remove the star anise. Pour the marmalade into sterilized jars and process according to the manufacturer's instructions or as directed on page 42 of the book.
Omit the star anise, instead adding 2 or 3 sticks cassia cinnamon to the mixture at the start of the final cooking. Proceed with the rest of the recipe as directed.
This is an even more richly flavored marmalade than the original; the effect of the coffee is to deepen the flavor, adding another layer of bitterness. For this version, omit the bourbon and star anise. Crush 2 tablespoons green cardamom pods lightly in a mortar to release their seeds. Divide the crushed cardamom and 1/2 cup best regular coffee beans equally between two large mesh stainless-steel tea infusers with firm latches and add them to the marmalade at the start of the final cooking. Press down on the infusers to be sure they are submerged, then proceed with the rest of the recipe as directed.
This page created November 2010
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