When a friend told me that his husband, Thom, was a whiz at pickling and canning vegetables & jams, I was eager to finagle a date for a jam making session. Over the years, I’ve been interested in learning more about canning, but the process has intimidated me. Botulism worries aside, the idea of working with an enormous pot of scalding water and the thought of the hours in a hot kitchen it might entail curbed my otherwise inquisitive spirit. But the concept of doing it as a group, with someone who had some experience with it sounded like the perfect afternoon.
My friends picked a new-to-them recipe from Thom’s favorite canning book, Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff. (The book is not vegan, but this recipe is, of course. For a sneak peek, the recipe is available here on Google Books.) The Meyer Lemon and Rose Petal Marmalade is described as the “marmalade to serve with silver spoons at afternoon tea with the queen of a small but important country.”
With a bag of Meyer lemons and a baggy full of rose petals, we began by removing the tiny petals from their stems. Then we segmented the lemons, cutting the fruit away from the membrane and de-seeding, but leaving the peel on the fruit. Cutting each fruit apart from its skin wasn’t difficult, but it did take a bit of time to separate each juicy section. Working as a group, it wasn’t long before we’d finished all of the lemons and were left with leftover seeds and skin in addition to perfectly sectioned lemon pieces and peel.
Instead of using store-bought pectin, this recipe uses the natural pectin in the lemons to gel the jelly. Thom moved the leftover seeds and membranes to a piece of cheesecloth and tied it with twine. Then the bag was moved to a preserving pan with the lemon pieces, lemon juice, and water to simmer for a half an hour, until the lemon pieces were tender.
Once they were tender, Thom removed the pectin bag, let it cool, and then we all took turns squeezing every drop of sticky pectin into the pan. The cheesecloth was now gooey and gelatinous. Then the remnants were discarded and the dried rose petals and sugar were added to the preserving pan and brought to a boil.
Thom sterilized the jars in boiling water, we filled them with jelly, and then he attached the sterilized metal lids with a magnetic wand to put the hot lids onto each jar. The filled jars were then boiled for another five minutes.
We had such a fun time working on a project together and making a marmalade that definitely strays from the ordinary. My friends gave me a show-and-tell of their cupboard and showed off all of the fruits and vegetables they’ve pickled in the past. It definitely whetted my appetite to explore canning and pickling more in the new year, especially now that I’ve had a helpful introduction from my two kind friends.
With the jelly done, I was excited to try it once I got back home. I’d made a batch of cashew cream cheese from Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner, and I thought the tart lemon would balance nicely with the tangy cream cheese. Spread onto crackers, the jelly and cashew cream cheese taste like a combination between lemon meringue pie and lemon bars. Because the peel is still attached, the marmalade has a beautiful chunkiness about it with faint pink overtones from the rose petals. The strong taste of lemon would also pair nicely with vanilla soy or coconut yogurt.
As a thank you to my lovely friends who set aside an afternoon to indulge my canning endeavors, I sent them this calendar from The Little Canoe. It felt like it went along with some other artwork in their kitchen. Plus, it looks like a watercolor version of their own pantry. As an added bonus, if the Queen of a Small But Important Country should ever stop by, I can get my silver spoons at the ready, because I know just what I’ll be serving.
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