Over the weekend I went to DC – not for the Inauguration of course, for the Women's March on Washington. But more on that in a later post. On my return, instead of sorting my march photos I cooked up another batch of marmalade for the January FIJ Mastery Challenge. While I liked my first effort, it seemed to me if the challenge is about mastery, then by definition a second attempt would be needed. This time I took a few more photos.
I used Marisa's Small Batch Blood Orange Marmalade recipe, which calls for soaking sliced fruit overnight to soften the peels and to encourage the pith to release its pectin. Because I wanted to use the marmalade in a recipe, Orange Marmalade Cake, that calls for coarse-cut peel, I made thick slices. Some blood oranges have deep purple flesh; mine had flecks of dark color, no more. After soaking overnight the overall color evened out and became pinky-orange.
After reading laments by other FIJ Challenge participants, it occurred to me that my thermometer may not be calibrated properly, something I've never tested. So I was very careful this time to note the volume in the pot at the start. The goal was to boil the fruit until volume is reduced by one-half. So I boiled...
... and boiled (stirring to prevent sticking) until the blood orange slices looked quite wilted. The flesh of the oranges melted away, enriching the syrup and leaving the now-tender peels.
My thermometer never went over 210° F (the standard is 220° F for two minutes), but it became clear the pectin was working pretty much when the volume in the pot was reduced by half. I tried the spoon test and the plate test, which didn't give unambiguous results, but somehow the hot marmalade just looked right, which may be one expression of expertise. There are no photos of this stage because there was much rapid flailing of implements in boiling hot sugar-fruit mixture. By the time the marmalade was in jars and ready for processing, it looked like the set was good – and so it was.
This time the yield was spot-on: three half-pints, or in my case six quarter-pints, plus a cook's share. The product was so tasty that one of the quarter-pints didn't make it to the class photo, and the flavor has only improved since then. It's hard to tell from the FO photos, but there are flecks of red amid the rose-gold marmalade, which is not what I would have expected, but is very appealing. And wouldn't you know it, having tried both it turns out I prefer julienned peel to coarse-cut. Although I haven't yet made the cake, so perhaps that may change (again).
Overall, I would say that while there remain many, many marmalade recipes to explore, marmalade success has been achieved, and I can move on to the February challenge without reservations.