Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Blood Orange and Lemon Verbena Jam

Well this jam turned out to be more like a syrup. What I should have done was make a small batch of it first, but I was so excited that I didn't. I'm still really excited about it! I made this jam with my friends, Michelle and Lacey, for the bridal shower. We spent the entire evening canning and stirring citrus jam. It was a good time to catch up and a great way to start off the week. The recipe is from Saving the Season. I suggest if you want to make this, you should follow his directions and do a little research if you haven't canned before. Also, this jam is a little bitter since blood oranges are naturally bitter but it would be great over some homemade ice cream or with a baguette and some sliced brie.


5 pounds blood oranges
1 pound organic lemons
7 cups raw cane sugar
1 cup honey
1/4 cup dried lemon verbena leaves (mine were from working at Garden Dreams!)

As a note, it is best to use all organic fruits and ingredients if you're going to be canning. I've read that the chemicals can react in strange ways and turn the jam different colors, like green. : ( You don't really want preservatives and pesticides in your delicous homemade jam anyways. Since we live in Pittsburgh (not citrus growing friendly at all!), I just got my fruit from Whole Foods.
The citrus is also coated with wax to preserve it, so make sure to pour boiling water over the citrus and then scrub them really well to get all the wax off.

1)  Use a sharp vegetable peeler to zest the de-waxed oranges and lemons in wide strips. You want very little white pith on the zest since it is bitter. Then put the zest in a preserving pan with 4 cups of water, bring to a boil and simmer covered for 30 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, remove the bitter white pith beneath the zest. Slice a round off both ends, deep enough to reveal the pulp beneath the pith. Then stand the fruit on one of its flat ends and slice along the fruit to cut away the white parts. Keep about 1/2 the pith!

3) Then chop the peeled citrus into 1/2 inch cubes. I was pretty inexact about this part. Remove the seeds as you see them. Keep the fruit juices that end up on the cutting board.

4) After 30 minutes simmering, lift the zest out of the preserving pan using a slotted spoon. (Leave the water in the pan!.) Let the zest cool and then use a food processor to chop the zest into tiny pieces. This was a life saver and all Lacey's idea!

5) Put the chopped zest, pulp & pulp juices in the preserving pan with the liquid from cooking the zest. Bring it all to a modest boil and cook while stirring for about 15 minutes until the pulp has broken up and peel is translucent.

6) Put the lemon verbena and white pith in a cheesecloth bag and add to the mixture.

7) Stir in the sugar and honey and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Return mixture to a boil and continue reducing. When you've achieved a jell set*, ladle into sterilized jars, seal and process in a hot-water bath for 10 minutes for half-pint jars.

*How to decide if you've reached jell set: Put a small plate in the freezer while cooking the jam. Then when ready to test, add 1/2 teaspoonful of the jam on the frozen plate. Wait for a 30 seconds and then make a trail with your finger. If the trail retains its shape, then the jam is done. If you like a firmer jam, then cook for longer. Just make sure not to over cook the jam since it will change the flavor.

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