Monday, July 13, 2015

Orange and Jalapeno Marmalade

A while back, when I was having a run with making jams, using oranges, and rhubarb and such, I got the idea to try again with making a jam, this time Orange & Jalapeno Marmalade, and using the temperature to see when it was done. I had never seen anything before where a certain temperature was to be reached, marking the point where a jam actually sets. That temp is supposed to be 220 degrees F.
Cooking the Marmalade to 220 degrees F

Everything was going great, and the marmalade was actually reaching the "sheeting" stage, where it starts coming together to drip off the side of a spoon, culminating in two drips that sort of hang there for a bit before falling. The marmalade reached 220 degrees. I took it off the heat and ladled it into jars, put it in a water bath, and once processed all the jar lids popped - a very satisfying sound. 
All the fruit and peppers in the pot

Unfortunately, it didn't jell!

It is thickened, so it will be no problem to use. It was not made with the idea of spreading it on toast. It will do very well for things like pouring over a block of cream cheese as an appetizer, or pouring onto cooked pork chops or chicken either as a glaze or during the cooking process. I didn't think to wonder until the whole mess was over and done, that maybe, because our altitude here is 1,300 feet, that the temperature may have needed to be just a bit higher to reach that jelling point.

Oh well. I will use it regardless. 

After researching this a bit more, I find that the set point is about 1 degree less (than the 220 F at sea level) per each 500 extra feet altitude. Using this calculation, my marmalade should have been at set point at barely past 217 degrees. This so was not the case! I guess it is best to stick with the old tried and true, and watch for the sheeting!
Orange Jalapeno Marmalade all done and sealed

Anyway, I have made a pepper jam before, which also did not set, and that was made when I lived in Florida, AT sea level. Maybe it is more to do with peppers in the jam? There is certainly nothing wrong with the flavors in either of these. When I made my Rhubarb and Blood Orange Jam, I just got into the mood for marmalade type jams. Having used blood oranges in that jam, this time I used big, juicy navel oranges. The jam is so pretty with its clear color and little colorful confetti-like bits all suspended in it. Nothing at all wrong with the look or the taste. Here is the recipe:

Orange and Jalapeno Marmalade

makes about 5 cups

3 navel oranges with zest
1 cup chopped jalapeno peppers
1 cup chopped red or orange bell peppers
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
5 cups sugar
4 green cardamom pods
1 (4-inch) cassia cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Using a potato peeler, pare the orange zest in approximately 1-inch strips, scraping off any white, bitter pith. Slice the zest very thinly and set aside. Peel the fruit and cut into small cubes; there should be about 2 1/2 cups altogether.

For cooking jams, it is best to use a very wide pot. More surface area means faster evaporation, and a quicker cook time. Into a wide pot place the orange bits, the zest and all the peppers. Add the cider vinegar, bring to a boil and cook the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain out the pepper and orange mixture and measure the vinegar liquid; there should be about 1 cup of liquid, total. If there is still too much, boil it down a bit more to make 1 cup.
Peeling and Slicing Orange Rind

Add in the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add in the pepper and orange mixture with the spices and bring to a boil. If using a candy thermometer, and you live at sea level, cook the marmalade to about 220 degrees. Test the mixture for "sheeting" (as explained above) as well. If you live over 1,000 feet above sea level, the temperature may never reach 220 degrees, in which case you must rely on the old-fashioned sheeting test. For me, at 1,300 feet altitude, in a very wide stock pot, this took 30 minutes.

Once the mixture is at point, have jam jars scalding in a large pot of simmering water. Add in the rings. Ladle the marmalade into the sterile and drained jars, wiping the edge of the jars with a clean damp cloth. Top with a lid and screw on the rings. Set a rack into the pot of boiling water and if there is insufficient water to cover the jars by 1-inch, add more water and allow to come to a boil. Lower the jars into the boiling water and once the water returns to a full-rolling boil, time the processing as follows:

  • sea level to 1,000 feet: 10 minutes
  • 1,001 to 3,000 feet: 15 minutes
  • 3,001 to 6,000 feet: 20 minutes

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.