It is the third ugly day in a row in Seattle. Saturday, just before noon, it began to spit icy hail-snow which quickly turned to slush on the road (we had just left the house to run errands, of course) and was promptly covered with even more snow. We soldiered on, and I am glad we did, because Sunday was uglier; you could say it snowed all day (off and on), and you can’t often say that in Seattle. We took the dog out for a walk around 6:30 and found the neighborhood children sledding down the middle of our ice-coated street (not much for safety, I suppose, but it’s a quiet side street and it looked like FUN.) This morning the sidewalks were still icy, the streets still coated and the grass still covered with snow. It has been flurrying off and on today, with more in the forecast… This is the closest to a Major Weather Event we’ve come yet this winter.
I am all for the snow. Maybe it’s selfish, but I don’t have to leave the house other than to walk the dog, and neither does my husband, so I like the pretty, white-dusted trees and lawns. When I think about the details of ongoing snow, I worry about my friends in Seattle, as this tiny bit of weather causes havoc in our generally-unprepared-for-snow city. My east coast friends and family, particularly those of you in New England, have no clue how paralyzing a tiny amount of snow can be in our plow-, salt- and sand-free, hilly city. Driving home from the grocery store on Saturday, we passed cars pulled to the side of the road with hazards blinking away and at least three major accidents. At times like this, the best possible thing is to stay home and bake. Or make marmalade.
I have been on a wicked marmalade kick lately. After a traumatic experience this summer with key limes, I am a little apprehensive about marmalade-making, specifically about which kinds of citrus I can use reliably without recreating the horrid, bitter mess I made with key limes. I feel confident about my Meyer lemon marmalade and don’t mind making that fairly often, but I also crave the adventure of discovering new flavors– that is why my to-do list for canning keeps growing exponentially, and I will never catch up. But that’s okay. My solution so far this year has been to make different kinds of marmalade in tiny batches: one or two jars at a time, using a pound or less of fruit in each batch. That way, if something goes wrong, I haven’t wasted (too much) fruit, sugar or time. A good plan, yes?
In my search for new marmalade recipes, I came across one on a blog I greatly admire (What Julia Ate) for clementine marmalade. Well, that sounded good, and as a super-double bonus, I had all the ingredients on-hand, no shopping necessary. This recipe involves a multi-day process, but it is so easy! If you have never made jam, never canned anything, have no marmalade experience, I can’t stress enough that it doesn’t matter, you can make this. And it is worth making, really worth it. The steps each day are not difficult and you don’t need any special equipment; though I used a mandoline, the recipe is completely doable with a sharp knife. The recipe below made one pint-size jar; I did not even bother to water-bath can it, knowing that it will keep for a while in the fridge without spoiling. The finished clementine marmalade is a sunny orange color, sweet and truly reminiscent of the bright flavor of a fresh clementines. I have been eating it with goat cheese on my English muffin in the morning and will be making a full batch very soon as I don’t have a lot left. It’s the perfect happy accent to my breakfast on these gray, ugly January days. Stay safe, Seattle friends!
Tiny-batch Clementine Marmalade
- 1 pound of clementines, preferably organic* ( I used 7 clementines)
- 1 1/2 c. sugar
- 2 T. lemon juice
Day 1: Scrub the clementines really well, especially if they are not organic. It won’t hurt to take a brush to them and get any fruit wax or other junk off. Pat dry with a clean towel. Chill in the freezer for 30 mins. or so to make them easier to cut.
Remove 1/4″ or so of each end, which will be mostly pith and rind. Using a mandoline on a 1/16th” setting, slice all the fruit into a large bowl, carefully catching as much of the juice as possible. (If you’re using a sharp knife, cut each fruit in half from end to end and then slice each half as thinly as you can.) Remove any seeds you find. If you used a mandoline and have full slices of fruit, use a knife to coarsely chop the slices so you have smaller lengths of peel. This step makes the finished product easier to spoon and eat but, otherwise, is mostly for aesthetics.
Transfer the sliced clementines and their juice to a non-reactive pan; add lemon juice and sugar. Bring mixture to a simmering boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, transfer back to the bowl, cover with parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.
Day 2: Put the clementine mixture back into your non-reactive pan and bring to a rolling boil. Boil strongly for 5-10 mins., until the mixture thickens and starts to look glossy. (I was closer to 5 mins. in this step.) If your marmalade does not thicken, you can refrigerate for one more night and repeat the Day 2 steps on Day 3, but for a batch this size it shouldn’t be necessary. Put your finished marmalade into a container with a tight-fitting cover; allow to cool on the bench with a vented cover for an hour or so and then cover completely and store in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 pint.
*Because you are using the whole fruit, organic citrus is preferable because you are less likely to have bitter wax or pesticide residue in your final product. Yuck.