Monday, March 3, 2008

Cranberry-blood orange jelly

I love February. Not because of the weather - definitely not. But February is blood orange season. In Germany, all oranges must be imported (pre-climate change climate provided... this winter would totally have been warm enough for orange trees to prosper), and more often than not their quality doesn't live up to my standards. But come February and all this changes. Blood oranges are always juicy, aromatic, tangy, and fragrant. I devour them by the pound.


Then the other day I found a leftover bag of cranberries in my freezer, and an idea started to form in my head. I'm the biggest fan of bitter orange marmelade, something you can only homemake with proper bitter Seville oranges - not marketed here. But how about a blood orange-cranberry jelly? Yes, gotta try that.

The verdict? Itsh hard to shpeak wish my moush full of bagel wish jelly... O my goodnesh, thish ish gooooooooood :-)


I used the frozen cranberries and juiced what seemed like 6 pounds of blood oranges. I brought the cranberries together with the orange juice to a boil, let it gently simmer for a while, covered with a lid to avoid boiling it down. I then strained it, pressing the pomace to squeeze out as much liquid as possible, and then measured 1 liter (4 cups) of liquid. I let it cool (important), then mixed this with 25 g of pectin, brought it to a boil again, stirring very frequently, added 300g sugar (1 cup), brought it back to a rolling boil and let it boil for approx. 3 min, stirring constantly.

so totals of:
cranberry juice + blood orange juice + juice of 1/2 lime, together a total of 1 liter (4 cups)
300g sugar (1 cup)
15g pectin (1/2 ounce) (use according to instructions on package!)
I'm giving the totals in metric values since they are a bit more precise.

I filled the hot hot hot jelly into scalded glasses with a twist-off lid. It is important to work quickly here, the jelly must be filled while it is still piping hot. Caution: the glasses get VERY hot. Use a clean towel to handle them, do not touch the rims with the towl. Since the glasses are too hot to hold while filling them, I always place them on a deep plate and then hold the plate.

I closed the lid tightly, and placed the glasses upside down. The remaining air in the glasses contracts as the jelly cools and produces a vacuum, thus tightly sealing the glasses. If I did it again I'd probably use less sugar, though, since the oranges were pretty sweet already. However, since the sugar acts as preserving agent I didn't want to cut it back too much. Still, if you use this ratio, your jam will still only have an added sugar content of 23% and a fruit content of 77%. Compare this to shop-bought jelly.

The key is to work as sterile as possible. Do not lick the spoon you are stirring with, do not touch the inside of the glasses or lids after scalding, do not wipe the glass rims with a cloth you used before for washing dishes or the like. Take a new cloth! Try to keep things surgically clean and the preserve will keep forever in a cool pantry - provided you don't eat it first. I've been making jams and jellies all my live and I've never had a batch go bad.

Homemade jelly is much much softer than store-bought brands (use mor pectin for firmer results). It is also much much yummier. Also, it usually is much much fruitier as well, preserving this typical pizzaz and tanginess missing in most store-bought brands. Plus, on one Sunday afternoon you can make a year's supply of jelly and jam of the fruit that's in season. So start peeling already :-)

9 comments:

Happy Herbivore! said...

your photos are always so beautiful and professional looking. I've wanted to try to make my own jams for some time but have always chickened out! You have reinspired me... your jelly looks so delicious!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Perfect timing with this post! I *finally* saw the first blood oranges of the season today, and I snatched one right up. I love those things, even if their name is a little creepy.

Anke said...

@happy herbivore: do try to make your own jams, you will never want to have branded sugar-loaden, low-fruit jams again. my favorite is homemade strawberry jam, a taste you can never achieve with store-bought strawberry jam.

just look for a good jelling agent with clear instructinos on the package.


@chocolatevegan: their name really IS kinda creepy... :-)

Jennifer said...

As always your photography is gorgeous. And I'm a sucker for citrus. I've always wanted to make my own jams, salsa, can my own stuff, but I'm a bit intimidated of canning. It looks fantastic!

Toffeeapple said...

Like you, I adore blood oranges and almost live on them when their short season arrives. In UK they are now called Blush or Pink oranges! Who knows why?

Anke said...

hi toffeeapple, I guess it is because of their creepy name. this is also what they do with many kinds of fish in Germany: when their botanical name is too weird, they just give them better-sounding names. marketing tricks...

Vegan_Noodle said...

Oh what fun!! I've never attempted making a jam or jelly, but this makes me want to! And what a delicious sounding combination....

Cookiemouse said...

Great pictures. I just love blood oranges. I'm going to StumbleUpon this page as I think you have given some very good advice on how to make preserves

Anke said...

thanks, cookiemouse :-)