20 August 2012

Home canning: peach-cantaloupe marmalade

This is an old-timey recipe, one I found in a tattered old government publication from my grandmother's farmhouse some years ago.

"Preserving Fruits and Vegetables in the Home," publication
dated 1929 from the Dominion of Canada

Let's take a look inside at today's recipe:

"Seal and store." This is why grandma called her jars "sealers."

Dig that recipe, though: 12 peaches? An entire cantaloupe? And 3 oranges and a lemon? That is an absurd quantity of fruit mass you'll be dealing with for the marmalade, which should be a small-batch product -- usually we want our jams and jellies to max out at about 6 cups of fruit, or we're far more likely to get a syrup than a jelled, set product. Were fruits in 1929 really that much smaller than today's produce? So! Modern version and illustrative photos after the jump!

If you are not familiar with home canning, please see the National Center for Home Food Preservation. This recipe does not substitute for a complete set of instructions on safe home canning practices. Jar size: pints and half-pints. Peel, seed and chop 3 small oranges. Add the juice, pulp, and thinly chopped rind of one lemon. Add chopped cantaloupe to bring the volume of fruit to about 4 cups:

Three oranges, a lemon, and a quarter cantaloupe. Brand name of measuring vessel clumsily
hidden with image manipulation freeware because no endorsement money exchanged
Peel, de-stone, and chop 4 cups of peaches. Add 7 cups of sugar and cook to 200 degrees Fahrenheit:

Not there yet! You do have a candy thermometer on hand, right?
It's that or the plate test.

The marmalade will foam while it cooks. Start it in a very wide kettle and skim it frequently. Keep the skimmed syrup on hand for use on pancakes or as a flavoring for Italian sodas. After the marmalade reaches 220 degrees, take it off the heat and let it cool to between 175 and 200. Fill pint and half-pint jars, packing them with fruit and ladling in syrup to top them off. Process pints and half-pints for 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Two pints of peach-cantaloupe marmalade

There will be syrup left over. Store in the fridge for use within the next few months, or process in the canner with the rest of the jars:

Syrup on the left, marmalade on the right
Yield: about 4 pints (as pints or half-pints) of marmalade and another 1 or 2 half-pints of syrup.

Notes: (1) It may take a while for your fruit to come up to 220 degrees, and it may be very foamy. I've had "kitchen malfunctions" with this recipe. Keep an eye on your kettle; skim the foam; and reduce the heat as necessary. (2) You may never get to 220 degrees. And thus you may not get a jell with this recipe. Please don't fret! It makes a fantastic syrup for pancakes or ice cream; a substitute for maple syrup in a pouding chômeur; or an unusual but delicious sauce for sweet and sour pork.

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