Monday, February 7, 2011

Sticky Business

I have to take a minute to laugh at myself. Everyone tells you to just let the housework go after you have a baby. I realized this weekend that if you have the energy to make the mess I made, you need to find the energy to mop!

This weekend's project was a bit of a debacle... Marmalade.

At Christmas, I received all the works for canning from my totally awesome MIL (I'm not kissing up - she's awesome! She lived with us for 2 weeks after my C-section). Don't know what got into me, but I decided I needed to make marmalade out of all the delicious citrus available.

Off to the Ball Blue Book (which I always want to call the "blue ball" book, giggle). 

The canning went beautifully. It was simple and easy and clean. The jelly making, however, was a disaster thanks to my over-ambitious dive into canning. 
What I learned:
1.) If you're going to can for the first time, try something easy like applesauce or cold-packed peaches in fruit juice, not marmalade! Canning is pleasant, but there is some learning curve.

2.) Pectin is really hard to find, at least in February. DH finally found some in Richmond. Then he could only find the powdered variety. Which leads to my next lesson...

3.) Powdered and liquid pectin take vastly different quantities. Oops. I literally have to carve my first batch because I added too much pectin. It's about as spreadable as a Jello Jiggler.

For the second batch, I chose a recipe that didn't require pectin. I learned my fourth and most important lesson.
4.) Boiling sugar water to the "gelling point" is a lot like the Iraq War. First, I naively thought it would be quick. As it dragged on and on, I kept telling myself that I was making progress, and it would be finished any minute now. When I felt like I'd spent too much time on the endeavor, I gave up and removed it from the heat. The result: you'd better hold the bread exactly level otherwise the marmalade rolls right off. Don't know what that says about Iraq...

Holding a roll perfectly level :)

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