Tuesday, July 9, 2013

First Solo Canning Experience: Lemon Honey Marmalade

Today, I'm writing about the success of my FIRST canning endeavor. My mom and sister have set a tradition in my family of canning every harvest, mainly tomatoes or salsa. I decided to bite the bullet and try my hand at it. 

Armed with the book, Food in Jars, I started on the recipe for Lemon Honey Marmalade. Aldi had lemons for 20 cents a piece so I bought $4 worth and a whole jar of clover honey ($3.79). I also had to pick up some cheese cloth since the recipe uses the lemon seeds as the pectin source. 

I had to cut up the lemons by topping and tailing them, removing the seeds and cutting them into 1/4 inch wedges. This took about an hour and I was very thankful I didn't have any cuts on my fingers because all the lemon juice. 

After the lemons were sliced and put in a large pot, I bundled up the seeds in the cheese cloth and stuck it in the pot as well. I brought it to a boil and then lowered the temperature to just a simmer, keeping it on the stove for an hour. *Just a note, I love having a gas stove because it's so easy to adjust the heat*

After the hour, I turned off the burner and let the whole mixture sit out, covered, overnight. 

The next day, with a caldron sized pot of water on the stove next to the pot of lemons (I took out the lemon bundle and discarded it), I started to mix and prepare the lemons, juice, sugar, and honey into a sloppy mess. After I thought the mixture had cooked enough, I decided to put it into the jars and proceed with a water bath. 

I had prepared four pint jars in the hot water, but to my surprise, there was more marmalade left over. I didn't want to waste this mixture I had worked so hard for so I processed those four pints, and brought the lemon mixture back to a simmer so that it wouldn't set up. After the water bath for those four jars was finished, I processed four half-pint jars and filled those (so this recipe produced MUCH more than it said it would).  

When all the jars were processed, I realized they were sloopy and sloshy. So, according to the recipe, I waited an hour and checked back...still sloopy and sloshy. I guess I didn't need to worry about the mixture setting in the pot. I wanted to cry...two days of work and it wasn't setting into a nice chunky marmalade. 

Rather than throwing in the towel, I just waited overnight. Thankfully, the half-pint jars (the marmalade I put in those jars had cooked longer than the first set of jars) had set up. I was hopeful that the first set had cooked through enough to eventually set. 

After about a week, the marmalade didn't slide to one side of the jar if I tilted it so I realized I could do this! I could can like my mom and my sister and preserve yummy food I made!

My husband really enjoys this tart and soothing marmalade mixed with greek yogurt or on toast. I am really excited for when the weather turns cooler so that I can have a hot cup of tea with an english muffin slathered with this wonderful treat!