Another year of no money, another year of packaging cheap homemade foods up pretty and calling them gifts. This Christmas it was jam and cookies.
I had made jam before, but never canned it, and was excited to try. This recipe for Florida Citrus Marmalade (see below) was inspired by a recipe for Cranberry Orange Marmalade on page 188 of a Cooking Light holiday edition from November/December 2007. I wanted to see if I could achieve sufficient tartness using grapefruit and key limes instead of cranberries, which aren't native to Florida. In the future I may increase my limeage, but it came out pretty well for a first attempt.
As for the cookies, I made these of the potato chip variety (thanks a million to Brie le Grand Fromage!) and added chocolate chips. I wanted to dip them in chocolate, but there would be days' worth of car travel before many of these packages reached their destinations. As my Florida readers can tell you, the weather fluctuates like mad at this time of year, so I wouldn't want to risk making a melt-prone gift.
Here's what my kitchen looked like while I was making the cookies. Thought you may get a kick out of it:
Florida Citrus Marmalade
8 lbs. navel oranges (about 14 oranges)
2/3 of a ruby red grapefruit
6 key limes
6 c. sugar, divided
3 c. water
Zest two oranges and two limes. Remove peels from these and all other fruits. Chop the fruit and remove all seeds.
Combine chopped fruit and zest in a large saucepan with water and 2 cups of the sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes.
Add remaining sugar. Simmer approximately an hour and a half.
Meanwhile, sanitize your canning equipment. Pre-wash all jars, lids, and bands with antibacterial dish soap and water. Fill a pot with enough water to completely submerge your jars. Bring to a boil over medium-high and place jars, lids, and bands gently in the boiling water for five minutes or more. For the last minute or so, lower the end of a pair of tongs into the boiling water. When time is up, use the sanitized tongs to remove each piece from the pot and place it on a clean towel.
Spoon jam into the jars while still hot. Wipe anything that spills over the edge with a clean damp towel. Put on the lids and secure with the bands.
Lower jars gently back into the boiling water. Boil for ten minutes, then remove carefully with the tongs and place back on the towel. (The towel is there as a buffer between the hot jar and the cold countertop, a trick I learned from Alton Brown via a recommendation from Peas Love Carrots. This helps prevent spontaneous shattering). A couple hours later, check the tops to be sure they have sealed. If the button doesn't bounce back when you push it, hooray! Your jam will keep in the same condition for about a year. This recipe makes about a dozen 8-oz jars.