I have marmalade questions.
March 30, 2020 6:40 PM   Subscribe

I have some citrus fruit. I have recently discovered, as someone with a very mild peanut allergy, that the TLoT&J sandwich is good. (Thin Layer of Tahini and Jam.) I think I’d like to try making marmalade but most recipes are for a ton. Can it scale down? (And do I really need a candy thermometer?)

That’s mostly the whole question I guess except maybe “are mixed citrus marmalades good?” and “if you’ve done this will you suggest quantities of fruit, sugar, and water?”

posted by less of course to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Food in Jars is a canning blog that focuses on small batch canning. I've made her recipes before with lovely results. Here is one of her recipes for small batch marmalade. Here is her marmalade archive.

I would recommend using a thermometer. As long as it reads high enough and is long enough for you to stick it safely in molten sugar, it doesn't have to be a candy thermometer.
posted by carrioncomfort at 6:56 PM on March 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

We call this "backyard marmalade". And it's fab. We made jars and jars last winter. You want at least some amount of something super sour, like lemon, lime, grapefruit or kumquat. Just orange tastes unbalanced. You can get all fancy and remove the pith, but I don't mind slightly bitter marmalade.

Using equal fruit/sugar/water weights:

- Weigh fruit.
- Slice small, with a mandolin if if you have one. (I save the pits and tie them in muslin to boil with the rind for extra pectin, but it's probably not necessary)
- Soak rind and juice overnight in the same weight of water (or pressure cook for 10 min in slightly less water). Don't use an aluminium pot.
- Simmer until rind is soft.
- Add sugar, boil until temp hits 105C, removing foam and pips as they appear.
- Pour into sterilised jars. Put on lid and allow to cool.

(Note that this is not considered safe in the US, but there is NO WAY that botullism can grow in this, too acidic. If the jar doesn't seal properly, you may end up with mould, but you'll be able to see that. If paranoid, store in fridge.)

I've had the best luck with a candy thermometer, but you can use the Plate test. Also, if it doesn't set, you can always boil it again. Annoying, but not the end of the world.
posted by kjs4 at 6:56 PM on March 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Yes and yes. I always just make one or two jars. You can scale down any recipe. Mixed citrus is nice. I like grapefruit and lime or orange and lime, or orange and grapefruit. Haven't tried other combos but I don't see why they wouldn't be great.
posted by lollusc at 7:06 PM on March 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Marmalade is one of the trickier preserves, in my experience. I've made citrus syrup by mistake, and I've cooked it down too far and ended up with something almost chewy. The Food in Jars recipe linked above seems like a good approach, but I would add pectin (liquid, at the end) just to be sure it gels.
posted by libraryhead at 7:12 PM on March 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh argh I forgot one important question: if I’m not putting it in a closet for years can I just dip the jar in boiling water and put a lid on at the end and consider it fine, safety-wise, to sit in the fridge and be eaten soon?
posted by less of course at 7:22 PM on March 30, 2020

Yes and maybe. Food In Jars is excellent. You don't strictly need a candy thermometer but it will make your life easier as a first timer who doesn't have a feel for "done" yet.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:22 PM on March 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Absolutely, don't even bother dipping it. Just put it in the fridge and eat it in two weeks. You can also freeze it.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:23 PM on March 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

We sterilise jars like this. But it's probably overkill if you're going to eat it quickly, especially if you put it in the jars whilst it's still hot.
posted by kjs4 at 7:54 PM on March 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

if I’m not putting it in a closet for years can I just dip the jar in boiling water and put a lid on at the end and consider it fine, safety-wise, to sit in the fridge and be eaten soon?

Even easier - if you're putting it in the fridge and eating it soon, you don't even need to faff around with dipping the jar in boiling water. The dip in boiling water (actually, it's longer than a dip) is what creates the vacuum seal that makes it shelf-stable. And if you're going to be eating it right away, you don't need it to be shelf stable, so screw the hot water bath.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:42 PM on March 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

The only trick with scaling it down, ime, is that if the layer of incipient jam in the bottom of the pot is too thin, you will burn it. So scale down the pot too -- jam at least two inches thick, I would say.
posted by clew at 8:55 PM on March 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

Maybe I was lucky or have a Paddington affinity for marmalade, but the first and only time I made it I used the saucer test and it turned out perfectly. I am sure you can find videos and photos online of what the consistency should be.
posted by tavegyl at 9:02 PM on March 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

I've used variations on this recipe for years. If you add the pectin, you don't have to faff around with boiling it forever.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:32 PM on March 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These are all great. If anyone is still reading, when is the appropriate time to grate in some ginger if I'm going down that road?
posted by less of course at 9:05 AM on March 31, 2020

Some of the ginger flavor cooks off, so I would do it late. I can my jam so wouldn’t worry about the ginger carrying bacteria in; for fridge jam, would either scald the knob before grating it, or put it in at a hard boil for... maybe look up time to sterilization at jam-setting temperature? That’s very cautious, nb.
posted by clew at 11:35 AM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

I don't think you need to worry about sterilizing ginger in fridge jam, particularly. But...typically hot water bath time is 25 minutes at boiling, regardless of it you got it up to 225F for gelling or just used pectin. Maybe add it halfway through.

Check the directions for a fridge marmalade...it's essentially the same as cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, and nobody seeks to sterilize that.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:01 PM on April 3, 2020

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