“I mean if it were me, I’d add one tablespoon of bitters to EACH half pint… mmm!” If you haven’t gotten word of the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge yet then you may be wondering why I’m going marmalade crazy. Specifically booze marmalade crazy. I apologize in advance to all the food swap’ers at this month’s Bull City Food Swap. Guess what you’re getting? 🙂 Typically, I never make marmalade. But after this batch, I’m beginning to question why. It’s like eating candy out of a Ball Jar. After last week’s lemon vermouth marmalade experiment, I decided to play it safe with something a bit more attainable. Since moving to Durham, I have came to love the flavor of bitter cocktails. Perhaps it’s the creativity, or the wide range of craft bitters created right here in the Triangle, or maybe it’s just the bartenders…
Anywho, for this month’s marmalade challenge I present to you blood orange marmalade finished with Angostura bitters. Depending on your preferences, I’d suggest adding 3-5 tablespoons of bitters. Adding the bitters right before the set point ensures that the flavor of the bitters doesn’t burn off. With the expected bitter flavors exhibited by the orange rinds this marmalade delivers a perfect bitter sweet punch. Enjoy!
“I suggest a sweet vermouth”, “I’d go with a dry white vermouth… Dolin Dry?”, “I agree, what about something like Cocchi Americano Bianco?”. Apparently it’s extremely easy to get booze based marmalade advice around Durham. Who would have thought? 😉 Tis the marmalade season and ’tis the booze based preserves season… Last week Marisa from Food in Jars announced a year long Mastery Challenge. As I just missed out on the Tigress Can Jam held back in 2010, I immediately jumped on the band wagon. Up first, marmalade… both a challenge for me as I’ve only made it once, and second because I knew I wanted to make it vermouth based. You may have noticed that the title of this recipe includes the word experiment. The struggle with booze based jams/jellies/marmalades is the loss of booze flavor during cooking, plus the inundant sugar necessary for a set. As my goal was to retain the vermouth flavor, I decided to play around with two different vermouths and two different marmalade processing methods. Plus, with nearly a foot of snow fall in Durham this week, I had plenty of time on my hands.
My initial hypothesis was that the 2 cups of sugar would overwhelm the flavor of a sweeter white vermouth (Cocchi Americano Bianco) and that the dry white vermouth (Dolin Dry) would offer a more pungent flavor backed by the lemon and sugar. To initially test this hypothesis I made two sugar, lemon juice, and vermouth drinks. Surprisingly, I was wrong, the Cocchi presented a stronger lingering flavor. For the first vermouth/method I followed Marisa’s small batch marmalade method found here. This resulted in a thicker consistency with less booze flavor. I figured that cooking the lemons for 55 minutes before processing them into marmalade caused too much vermouth flavor loss.
I’m not exactly sure why, probably the strawberries…, but it seems only appropriate that I drink a glass of home-brew strawberry mango kombucha while I write this strawberry mustard blog post. Sensing a theme here? STRAWBERRIES!!! I am up to my ears in strawberries. A little over a week ago the wild strawberries on my property started to ripen. My initial thoughts were “this is amazing, I am going to have fresh strawberries everyday.” A week later… “god damnit, I have to get home so I can pick them before the nasty roly polys beat me to it!” Honestly, I feel like I’m at war with the little strawberry buggers. Don’t get me wrong, and I’m definitely not complaining, I’m having tons of fun with it. Everyday is like Easter for fruits: I get to hunt for the ripest, juiciest, reddest berries amongst the bugs and weeds. Oh man, now I can’t wait till cherry tomato season.
Thinking of ways to mix it up and get creative, I decided for this initial bloom (boom?) that I’d play with some savory ideas. Initially planning on doing a strawberry relish (not sure if that’ll actually work), I came up with this whole grain strawberry mustard instead. A super easy mustard recipe and depending on your desired taste you can modify by adding more or less strawberries. Enjoy this sweet and tangy mustard with cheese, crackers, and perhaps another savory jam or jelly. The strawberries featured in this recipe were picked locally at Lyon Farms.
The tales of the traveling Tonic bottle… In checking out their photos online one could say that this little bottle gets around. Being that funny limbo time between fresh summer and early fall harvest, I’m always forced to get creative with my canning ideas. Thanks to my new friends over at Alley Twenty Six and Behind the Stick Provisions, LLC, this week I decided to put up a small batch of jelly using the Durham produced craft Tonic Syrup. Local, weird, and easily the prettiest colored jelly I’ve ever made. With hints of lemongrass and spice, I plan on serving this Tonic jelly with goat cheese and crackers.
What’s up with the burnt orange color? The color is caused by the bark of Peruvian cinchona trees that they use. Never heard of it? Neither had I. As the name suggests, the main use for this syrup is cocktails. Gin + Tonic syrup + soda water = close to the best gin and tonic I’ve ever tasted. Interested in trying or making this somewhat regionally specific jelly yourself? You can find Alley Twenty Six’s Tonic in many drinking establishments and bottle shops around the Triangle. For those of you who don’t live in the area, Tonic is currently being sold in store and online at Southern Season. Word on the street is that their website is going hit the interwebs any day now. In the meantime, for news, ideas, and a list of retailers, check out their Facebook page.
I call this my “happy 4th of July jam”. I get that today isn’t the 4th of July, but I made this Jam on the 4th, so that counts for something, right? If you recall from last summer, I’m pretty pumped about pick your own (PYO). My experience thus far in picking my own fruits and veggies is limited to apples, blueberries, raspberries, kale, herbs, and cauliflower. Picking your own veggies is so much cheaper and so much more fun. With the narrow picking window for strawberries, I had to get on it, as I’ve never picked strawberries nor made a strawberry jam before. Also, blueberry picking season just started!!
So what is it about picking my own? For me, it has to do with many things: saving money, keeping it local, helping out the smaller farms, etc. The one thing that I love the most though is the meditative aspect of it. Bare feet and a short skort I was looking for only the best berries at Applecrest Farm Orchards last week. The greatest feeling ever… Too small, too tart, too yellow… not for my jam.
© 2017 Erin A. Urquhart All Rights Reserved.