Friday, March 4, 2011

Marmalades, Conserves and Experiments

In Monday's Jams & Jellies class, we focused on marmalades and conserves. By definition, a marmalade is a jam made of citrus fruit puree, sugar, zest, and peel. The zest and peel add color, intensify the citrus flavor, and add texture. It's obviously necessary to cook the peel to the correct consistency or the product won't have great mouth feel. Citrus fruits are high in pectin so most of the products do not require additional pectin. My group made Lemon Ginger Marmalade, another group made Lemon Rosemary Marmalade and the final group made Ruby Red Grapefruit Marmalade.

To make the Lemon Ginger, we cut lemons by removing the inner membranes but keeping the pulp and peel. The pieces were cut into tiny triangles. We put the seeds, membranes, and extra ends in a bag made from cheesecloth in order to extract the necessary pectin. We cooked the cut pieces of lemon with water and sugar and the cheesecloth bag. We finely diced candied ginger. When the lemon mixture was ready to jar, we placed a few pieces of the candied ginger in the jar, then filled it with the lemon mixture. The Lemon Rosemary Group was similar - they placed a sprig of rosemary in the jar and then ladled the lemon jam over it. I liked the taste of the Lemon Rosemary - the herb turned this sweet product into a more savory taste. The Lemon Ginger was good too, but I prefer the Rosemary. The Ruby Reg Grapefruit was also good - sweet but not too sweet.

We also attempted to make Ambrosia Conserves. By definition, a conserve is a jam with the addition of nuts, dried fruits, or spices. The Ambrosia Conserves included dried sour cherries, fresh pineapple, oranges, sugar, coconut and pecans. I say we attempted to make this because we failed to make an edible product. Basically, our product cooked at too high of a temperature, and therefore, the sugar began to caramelize, which is problematic. So we overcooked it, basically, and therefore couldn't use it. The goal was to use it to make an Ambrosia Cake, so I guess that will have to be an experiment I try on my own at some point. It's too bad, because the combination of flavors in this item is definitely enticing to my taste buds.

As we usually do, we revisit products from previous weeks. Last week we made blueberry jelly without the addition of pectin. We noticed that this product didn't actually gel which isn't too surprising. We talked about what to do with the product. Throw it away? Find another use? Because time and money were invested in this, it's a good learning opportunity to see how you can turn this into something use-able. It could be used as a dessert sauce for plating. We also decided it would make a delicious sauce for waffles, pancakes, or french toast. So, Chef was kind enough to rustle up some challah from the breads class, and she made us french toast. I never say no to that, and it was delish. Breakfast at any hour of the day - still one of my favorite things.

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