Yea! I completed my first Can Jam!
January's produce-of-the-month was citrus. Any citrus. I've never canned citrus before, and wasn't certain what to make. I've always loved the taste of marmalade, but added a little twist, adding dried chilis for some kick. I thought pouring it over some goat or cream cheese would make a great snack or appetizer, and I love the idea of being able to whip out some marmalade and crackers from the pantry, cheese from the fridge, and voila, aren't I the good hostess?
I used a recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, Orange Chili Marmalade.
Orange Chili Marmalade
2-1/4 lbs oranges, seeded and thinly sliced*
grated zest and juice of one lemon
6 cups water
6 dried New Mexico chili peppers
9 cups granulated sugar
Bring to a boil over high heat, oranges, lemon juice and zest, and water. Boil gently for 40 minutes, stir occasionally. Add chili peppers, partially cover and boil gently 30 minutes**, stir occasionally. Discard peppers.
Boil over med-high heat, stirring constantly. Gradually add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, keeping it at a boil. Boil hard, stir occasionally, until gel stage, about 15-20 minutes.
Ladle into hot jars, 1/4 inch headspace. Process 10 minutes after coming to a boil in the canner. Turn off heat, remove lid and wait 5 minutes before removing from canner. Made nine half-pints.
* I sliced the oranges by hand, and the peel was really too large, even with my best effort. Next time I'll either use a food processor or mandoline to slice the oranges, and then chop the rind into smaller pieces.
** I wouldn't go over about 40 minutes here, or the peppers will fall apart, and you'll wind up with peppers in your marmalade.
As far as being local, organic, etc., citrus doesn't grow around here at all, so at minimum, my Cara Cara oranges came from over 800 miles away in California, and the lemon from further than that. Both were organic, however. My sugar came from Paraguay, organic and fair trade. I had a heck of a time finding any of the peppers listed in the original recipe (dried habeneros, Colorado or New Mexico peppers). New Mexico peppers were the only ones I could find, organic or not (they're not).
As far as taste goes, I think it needs about a month to "meld". It tastes uber sugary right now, with not a lot of orange flavor in the jam, but the peel is very orangey. I would've wished for a bit more pepper flavor, too, but maybe that'll come through as the sugary taste wanes and the orange strengthens.