Yesterday I inaugurated my new canning equipment — a huge 12 quart stockpot, a canning funnel, a magnetic lid lifter, and a bright red rubber coated jar lifter. Joy! Granted, I actually received most of this for Christmas last year, but since I didn’t envision myself doing much canning in Germany, I packed everything away in storage and forgot about it for a year.
But, now I am back in San Francisco and getting settled into ‘life as normal’, whatever that means. One of the things that signifies ‘life as normal’ is being settled enough that I feel like embarking on culinary adventures. Homemade tofu, jelly, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, and sausage are the sorts of things I am talking about here — things you can easily buy at the grocery store, but sometimes are just fun to make from scratch because 1) seeing the process is interesting, and 2) the results are often more unique and flavorful than their store bought counterparts. When things are up in the air or unsettled, the farthest thing from my mind is making something like tofu from scratch, but I can tell when I have finally settled in somewhere because I typically develop the urge to make sausage, pickle something, or cook up some marmalade.
Such is the case now… finally! sigh of relief that our move is over…
This recipe is adapted from Christine Ferber’s beautiful and imaginative book, Mes Confitures. Divided by season, this volume focused entirely on unusual preserves and jellies is the jam maker’s dream. There are SO many things I want to try out of here. Judging from the fantastic results of my first foray into her book, I expect great things from her other recipes. A few of the standouts that I plan to make are: Pineapple with Vanilla and Rosemary, Banana with Bittersweet Chocolate, Clementine with Lemon and Cinnamon, Kumquat with Apple and Grapefruit, and Praline Milk Jam to name a very few (and these are just from the ‘Winter’ section!).
This both is and is not a great book for beginners — to me it feels a little like reading through a grandmother’s notes — scant detail, few instructions regarding proper sterilization methods, no tips on how to tell when the jam is set, etc.– but on the other hand it has so many wonderful and imaginative recipes that are sure to inspire the beginning preserver. Also, there is no packaged pectin to be found in any of her recipes! For low pectin fruits, Ms. Ferber calls for the addition of green apples or pectin-rich homemade Green Apple Jelly. I really like this aspect of the book, as I have always felt a little put off by those strange little packages of powdered pectin one buys at the grocery store. Call me crazy and old-fashioned, but they just don’t feel natural to me. Her approach is truly ‘from scratch’, and instead of being daunting, I think it actually demystifies the whole process of making preserves (i.e. no magic powders…)
Anyhow, these preserves of orange, pomelo, lemon, and ginger are a wonderful mixture of sweet, bitter, sour, and spicy. So far my favorite thing to do with it is stir it into plain yogurt. It’s also tasty on toast or stirred into oatmeal. Ms. Ferber recommends mixing these preserves into fromage blanc, which I am sure would be delicious as well. As with so many things, the final result depends heavily on the quality of the ingredients you use. Citrus is in prime season right now, so try to buy the ingredients at your local farmer’s market. You will get fruit that is flavorful, perfectly ripe, and truly in season.
Do you make preserves? do you have any favorite recipes? I’d love to hear them.
Orange, Pomelo, Lemon and Ginger Preserves
Adapted from Christine Ferber’s Mes Confitures
makes a scant 6 cups
1 3/4 lb oranges (800 g), or 1 lb 2 oz (500g) net (cara-cara oranges are delicious here)
2 lb pomelos, or 1 lb 2 oz (500g) net (or substitute grapefruits to follow Ms. Ferber’s original recipe)
3 3/4 c. (800 g) sugar
11 oz (300g) candied ginger, finely chopped
Peel the oranges and pomelo, removing all the white with the rind. Slice the fruit into rounds a little less than 1/2 inch thick. Remove the seeds and cut the slices into quarters. Rinse and brush the lemons under cold water and cut them in very thin slices, removing the seeds as you go. In a preserving pan (5 qt is a good size), combine the citrus fruits, sugar, and ginger. Bring to a simmer, then turn the preparation into a bowl. Cover with a round of parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Pour the mixture into a preserving pan and bring to a boil, stirring gently. Skim and continue cooking on high heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring continuously. Check the set. Put the jam into jars immediately and seal.