(Don’t forget to enter my little giveaway here.)
Carrot Marmalade is an old-fashioned recipe. I found it in my 1973 copy of Putting Food By.
I’d never heard of such a thing. After I made it, and I offered Kevin a piece of homemade bread with some butter and carrot marmalade on it, he wrinkled his nose and said something like, “I don’t like carrot marmalade.” As if he’d ever heard of it. But I couldn’t get mad, because that was something like my first reaction.
(And after he ate a bite, his big blue eyes widened and he made that little good grubbin’ moan in the back of his throat that means … yes … yes this is good.)
But I had the carrots already grated in my freezer. I’d saved them from wilted trashdom. And I had to do something with them, right?
Also, I really, really wanted to try actually canning something. I’ve made jams before, but I always freeze or refrigerate it.
So I headed to the thrift stores, looking for canning jars. I couldn’t find any, which made me very sad. I ended up paying $10 for a dozen new quilted jam jars from the grocery store. I have a concrete plan this summer to look for canning jars at yard sales.
I tweaked the recipe a little. The original, in the book, called for six and a half cups of sugar. Yowza. Who needs coffee in the morning with that little wake-me-up on their toast, right? So reducing the sugar content by a couple of cups was my one and only change.
- 4 cups grated carrots
- 2 oranges
- 2 lemons
- 4 1/2 cups sugar
- 5 12 ounce jam jars with lids and rings
- pot big enough to hold all five jars with water an inch over the rim, plus room for not boiling over
Start by getting by filling the pot with water, adding the jars, lids, and rings and putting it on a burner over medium high heat. You want to boil the jars so that they’re hot when you add the jam and to kill any bacteria.
While that’s getting on it’s way, take out your food processor. Cut up the oranges and lemons and whir them until they are fairly finely chopped. It’s going to look like a slush almost. I kept the lemon seeds in there, because they’ll add some bitter to the marmalade, which I like, and their pectin will help the jam to set up. If you don’t have a food processor, you can just use a blender. If you want to totally unplug, use a knife. Just peel the fruit and cut the rinds into tiny pieces, then cut the fruit, saving the juice. If you use a knife, I’d take out the seeds and put them in a tea ball or muslin bag to boil with the jam without adding big chunks of seed to the mix.
You want to grate enough carrots to make 4 cups as well. This is about 6 to 8 large carrots. I didn’t bother with peeling, but I did cut off the top end (where the greens would be.)
Get a heavy pot out and put the fruit slurry, the carrots, and the sugar into a pot. Start is heating over medium heat. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. You’re looking for 220 degrees, but you don’t need to get there in a hurry. You don’t want the bottom to burn, so keep stirring. I kept the heat at medium and it took about 15 minutes for the jam to get to the right temperature.
At first it might seem like the whole mess is just too thick. But it only takes a little while for the sugar to start to melt and for the fruits and carrots to release their juices.
Meanwhile, start getting your canning area ready. I set up a TV table right next to my stove, because I don’t have any counter space near by. Use some tongs and a towel to carefully take the jars, rings, and lids from the boiling water and set them on a clean towel on your work surface. I put them upside down first, to let them drain.
When the jam has reached 220 degrees, turn the heat off under it. Use a ladle and a funnel (I bought one for $2 at the same time I got the jars) and fill the jars to 1/2 an inch from the rim. This is a little tricky, because the jars are hot and the jam is really really hot. Use kitchen towels or pot holders to protect your hands, and go slow. There isn’t a rush.
(I prepared 6 jars, but only had jam enough for five.)
If you don’t have a canning rack, which I don’t, use tongs to get a kitchen towel down into the same big pot to keep the jars from banging together. When all the jars are filled, use the tongs to set them each down into the pot of hot water. Use a pitcher to add more water if necessary. You want the water to come at least an inch over the top of the jars.
Set the heat to high and wait (patiently if possible…) for the water to boil. You don’t start the boiling time until the water is at a rolling boil. It took ages it felt like, but probably less than ten minutes.
At my high elevation (6500 feet) I boiled the jars for 17 minutes, which is 7 more than the recommended 10. The reason for the difference in time is that the boiling point is lower the higher up you get, so it takes more time to bring the food in the middle of the jar to the right temperature. Since I was starting with boiling jam, it wasn’t as critical as if I was canning raw food. But still, I wanted to get it right. So 17 minutes it was. I used the information in the book for altitude adjustments.
I boiled all five jars, even the one I knew I was going to open right away. I wanted to make sure it had a good, solid seal.
The worst part of the whole process is letting those delicious jars of homemade jam sit and cool. And cool. And cool. It took at least four hours for them to get to room temperature. I could see right away that the lids had sealed, because they pulled inward, away from the rings (you can kind of see it in the next picture.) I’m a little scared, untrusting of my canning skills. But when I finally did open the first jar, it was obvious that it was sealed. I had to pry the top off with a butter knife. And I’m going to have to trust that my nose and my eyes will tell me if something has gone wrong when I open the other jars.
To while away the hours of waiting for things to cool, I made some bread. I used a recipe from Gluten-Free Baking Classics for the Bread Machine by Annalise Roberts. I have a review coming soon, because OMG…yum.
So finally. Finally. I had an amazing treat of homemade carrot marmalade, made from cold storage oranges and lemons and rescued carrots, on homemade bread with butter. I’ve heard of the slow food movement. Now I have really, truly experienced it.
And the best part? Carrot marmalade rocks. It’s an awful lot like orange marmalade, but the carrots add a depth of flavor that is really amazing. The lemons give it a fresh, bright tang, too. I’m glad I didn’t use more sugar because it was perfectly sweet with the sugar I did use.
Was it economical? The jam on it’s own, yes definitely. I ended up with 60 ounces of jam for the cost of 2 oranges (25 cents), two lemons (25 cents), and 4 cups of sugar (50 cents.) That’s a dollar, and the prices are estimated high. (The carrots, 7 large, cost about 50 cents to buy. But I’m not counting them in the cost, because I know without a doubt that I would have thrown them away when they wilted prior to this instance.)
I had to buy the jars though, which cost about 85 cents each. Times five, that’s $4.25. So $5.25 total for five jars of marmalade, or just over a dollar a jar. (A dollar fifty if you count the carrots.) And, of course, the jars are reusable, so each time I make jam the cost will go down.
I can’t grow oranges or lemons where I am up here in the mountains where it’s cold 9 months a year. (Well, maybe if I had a hot house of some kind? But I don’t.) But I can definitely grow carrots.
Not bad, considering that 12 ounces of marmalade at the grocery store is at least twice that much. And good marmalade that isn’t full of chemicals costs closer to $4 for a jar. This recipe has a lot of sugar in it, but jam usually does. I might play around with lowering the sugar content, or using something other than white sugar. The end result though, was a sweet, brightly tart, delicious treat. And a lesson in canning.