bought marmalade? that is rather feeble.


I’m on a canning bender. No rational reason really applies: it’s not canning season, and I don’t have a lot of free time on my hands. Suspicion was aroused on day 2 of the bender when caramelized onion relish and lemon curd joined the pickled asparagus in the growing pile of jars on our counter top. I want to have lots of good food from home to bring when I move upstate. That sounds so reasonable in my head! I think it’s really an expression of not-so-secret anxiety, an unconscious choice to substitute boiling of water baths for boiling over of tempers.  When I say I’m canning because I’m worried about leaving the 24 hour delis, the grocery store within walking distance, Jakes for meat, I really mean I don’t want to leave my roommates. I don’t want to leave our apartment.

What if I miss out on collapsing in Prospect Park on hot days? What if I miss out on how long the daylight gets between the end of work and bedtime and how much fun can fit in there? What if I miss out on living with Liz again, or another really great sub-letter? What if I miss out on the list of summer concerts Nicole is currently compiling? The condition is called FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), and right now I’ve got it bad. Luckily, this is a regular occurrence for me, and soon after I leave, I’ll realize there is grass to nap in out there, roads to bike and hopefully a good bar or two. That the sun sets only 2 minutes earlier today in Tivoli than in Brooklyn, which means there will still be those long summer afternoons.  I hope there will be friendly people to meet up where I’m moving … and if not, I know I’ll come back to this city, not so long from now that my friends will be gone … and … there are some great videos on Youtube on learning to knit I’ve been meaning to watch.

Anyway, canning is the perfect cooking project for anyone who suffers from FOMO. You can catch produce at its peak, press pause and keep it for a bleaker season, or a bleaker moment in the contents of your cupboards. Right now, asparagus and ramps are the way to go, locally. Citrus has been on my brain too, because even organic citrus is so so cheap right now!

So today, marmalade.

And yesterday, deep purple onion relish with red wine and vinegar and a pale yellow lemon curd (made with yolks from such pretty blue eggs!).

And the day before, asparagus.

And tomorrow? Who knows what we’ll add to the pile. Ideas?

Recipes (and basic jar-processing instructions) after the jump …

1. How to Process Jars

This part of the canning recipe applies to anything you can in a hot water bath. This includes acidic things like pickles or tomatoes, and anything preserved in sugar, like jams.

You will need —

A big pasta pot (with deep strainer insert)

Small saucepan

Jars/lids (new lids)


Place empty glass jars in the pig pot and fill to cover with water. Make sure there are no air bubbles! Bring to boil, and allow to boil for 10 minutes. (You are going to want to time this 10 minutes to finish at the same time as the filling for the jars is complete, so you can fill and process them while they are as sterile as possible). Boil lids in small saucepan to sterilize them too. Lift out with tongs, dump excess water, and place on clean surface. Don’t turn off the water — keep it boiling! Fill jars with any of the recipes below, or with another recipe for hot water canning. Place inner lids atop the can and screw on the outer rings as tightly as possible. (Your cans will be hot! Use tongs!) Use the tongs and a glove to put the full jars back into the boiling water for the amount of time specified on the recipe. When the water begins boiling again, start timing. Remove processed cans and place on a dry surface. Wait to hear the satisfying pop so you know they have sealed! If, for some reason, one of your jars doesn’t seal, don’t worry. Just put it in the fridge and use that jar fastest.

Vinegar Pickled Spring Asparagus:

Annie and I made this together, and we doubled the recipe. (But we used about 9 lbs of amazing asparagus from the Union Square Market, the kind you can only get if you’re there around 7 am … thanks Annie!) For us it made 10 pint size jars.

This recipe will make 5 pint size jars, which uses a more reasonable amount of asparagus. If you want to double it like us — go for it!

4 lbs of fresh asparagus (sometimes I need more or less, depending on spear thickness)
5 garlic cloves, peeled
15 allspice berries
50 black peppercorn berries
20 coriander seeds
Red pepper flakes
2 ½ cups white wine vinegar
2 ½ cups water
2 ½ tsp canning salt
2 T sugar

To make the brine, add white wine vinegar, water, salt and sugar to a pot and bring to a boil. While the brine heats, mix spices together so you can add them easily to the jars. If you use tall jars for this, you won’t have to cut the asparagus. But we used shorter, fatter ones, so we trimmed our asparagus down and filled each jar with half heads and half stalks. Fill sterilized jars with asparagus spears and spice mix, and pour boiling brine over top. Quickly tighten the lids and return to boiling water bath for 10 minutes to process. (If you are making as much as we made … you’ll need to make this all happen in batches. It’s a process. Turn on the music, sit on the floor, and drink a beer.)Wait 4 weeks to eat!

There are the ingredients … all assembled!

Lemon curd:

I haven’t tried it yet but every day on my way out the door I think about just taking a spoon to it. You’ll realize why that’s a little gross when you read the recipe. But Emily makes this yogurt cake that reminds me of something my mom makes and is just the best thing in the world. I can’t stop thinking how good it will be on that. So I’m holding out. I’ll tell you how it is when we try it!

6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 meyer lemons, juiced (you should get a generous 1/2 cup. Make sure to strain it, to ensure you get all the seeds)
1 stick of butter, cut into chunks
zest from the juiced lemons

In a small, heavy bottom pot over medium heat, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Add the lemon juice and switch to stirring with a wooden spoon, so as not to aerate the curd. Stir continually for 10-15 minutes, adjusting the heat as you go to ensure that it does not boil. Your curd is done when it has thickened and coats the back of the spoon. Drop in the butter and stir until melted.

Position a fine mesh sieve over a glass or stainless steel bowl and pour the curd through it, to remove any bits of cooked egg. Whisk in the zest.

Pour the curd (a single batch will make one pint of curd) into your prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. If you want to process them for shelf stability, process them in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes (start the time when the water returns to a boil). It is best to process only in half-pint jars or smaller, as they allow better heat infiltration.

3 Citrus Marmalade

(from Food in Jars — a great website with beautiful pictures of the process … check it out!)

We have some pretty crazy pictures of this somewhere … especially of the pith tied in cheese cloth (ours was not a cute small bundle … it was huge!) and of our attempts at supreme-ing …

I’m laughing just thinking about it. That’s the best part.  I know when I eat this marmalade it will remind me of making it in our apartment in assembly line style, of Nicole hacking away at the lemons with a vengeance, and later boiling all the steps together with my roommates itching to go downstairs to Henry Public.

I’m going to post this now and update it with pictures later as they elude me.

Yield: 3 1/2 pints

2 pink grapefruit
3 lemons
4 navel oranges

6 cups of sugar
4 cups of zest poaching liquid

Wash and dry the fruit. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the fruit. Cut the zest strips into a fine confetti. Combine the zest in a pot with 6 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce temperature to medium high and simmer for half an hour.

While the zest cooks, cut the white pith away from the fruit and separate the fruit from the membranes (see instructions above for greater detail). Collect the interior fruit in a large measuring cup and set the membranes and any seeds aside.

When all the fruit has been broken down, bundle the reserved pith and seeds into a length of cheesecloth, tying the cloth well so that no seeds can escape.

Drain the zest, reserving the cooking liquid.

In a large stainless steel or enameled cast iron pot, combine zest, citrus fruit, 4 cups of zest cooking liquid, 6 cups of sugar and the cheesecloth bundle.

Bring to a boil and cook vigorously until the mixture reaches 220 degrees (this takes between 30-40 minutes).

When the marmalade reaches 220 degrees and sustains it for one minute, remove the pot from the heat. Stir for about a minute off the heat, to help the zest bits become evenly spread throughout the preserve.

Fill prepared jars (see above for jar preparation instructions), wipe rims, apply lids and screw rings. Lower into a prepared boiling water bath and process for five minutes at a gentle boil (do not start counting time until the pot has achieved a boil).

When time is up, remove jars from the pot and let them cool completely. When they are cool to the touch, check the seals by pushing down on the top of the lid. Lack of movement means a good seal.

While writing this I have gotten some great ideas, and I haven’t even given you the onion relish recipe yet. (I think that will come in another post)

… Sami is craving a hot-sauce, rhubarb is starting to appear at the farmers market and recipes are sprouting all over for rosemary rhubarb jam or rhubarb chutney.

Oh man. 25 jars is soon to be 50 I can tell.


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3 Responses to “bought marmalade? that is rather feeble.”

  1. Kate Fritz Says:

    Zoe! I love that one of the tags on this is anxiety. I’m following your curiosity and cookery like a bloodhound.

  2. what to do when your roommate starts canning compulsively « The Cooks and the Curious Says:

    […] The Cooks and the Curious Five girls, one Brooklyn kitchen « bought marmalade? that is rather feeble. […]

  3. byebyebox Says:


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