I know this isn't exactly quilt-related, but I also wanted to share some of the other crafts I've been working on. One of my best friends is due in July and my other friend Megan (the one I made the quilt for in a previous post) and I are hosting her baby shower in June.
I'm super psyched for this shower and I want to make it very special for her. We're doing a brunch shower with a French theme which basically involves really good food and drinks. They will be crafts of course too. While Megan and I were starting the planning, she asked what favors we would give the guests. Favors were not something I really thought about before, but I finally came up with the idea of giving jam.
Jam is beautiful, useful, and kind of fits the theme of the shower. I've never made jam before and I've never canned anything before, but that never really stopped me with anything else. I also figured that we could use the jam to serve at the shower with croissants.
As many who know me will attest, I never really do anything half-way. I decided to use beautiful Weck canning jars, which are apparently a little harder to use, but since I've never canned anything I didn't know any better. They worked just fine and sealed up beautifully.
My plan was to make both orange marmalade and strawberry jam. The strawberry jam will wait until it's strawberry season here in Pittsburgh, but oranges are still in season so I made 2 batches last weekend.
First up was rosemary blood orange marmalade. I used this recipe from Canning Across America and it came out beautifully. I made only a half recipe. I know they recommend against modifying canning recipes but I couldn't think of a scientific reason why halving the recipe would make it any less safe. I used 2.5lb of blood oranges and 2 lemons. I peeled and chopped the peels and pith on Saturday evening and set it to soak overnight in the fridge. The next day, I chopped the fruit and combined it with only half the peels (it seemed like too much to use it all) and 1/2C water (I also put the lemon seeds in cheesecloth to simmer along with the juice, etc). I let that simmer away for 1.5 hours until it reduced nicely. Then I added 4C sugar and one small branch of rosemary and let it boil for about 25 minutes until it reached 220 degrees (I took the rosemary out after about 20 minutes). When it reached temperature, I poured the marmalade into the clean and heated weck jars, sealed them, and processed for 15 minutes in boiling water. It made 7 whole 5oz jars of jam + 1/2 jar that just went directly into the fridge. Delicious! Next time I might not leave the rosemary in for 20 minutes since it was pretty strong - not too strong though.
Next I made Earl Grey orange marmalade. I used the same recipe and directions substituting Cara Cara oranges. After I added the sugar I also added 2 Earl Grey tea bags and let them boil with the jam for about 15 minutes. This jam stayed beautifully bright and made about the same amount of jam in the end. This was delicious and I will be making it again in the future for sure!