Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Marmalade and Red Celery

Dear Folks,

I discovered an outstanding recipe for making marmalade from our citrus.  I first made some several weeks ago.  I did not can it because I wanted to see how very small batches (1-2 fruit) turned out.  The verdict was "great".

So the other day I made three versions and canned them.  The hardest part of this recipe is deciding how big you want the pieces of fruit.

Historically I was not fond of marmalade - to me they were overly sweet jellies with a few pieces of fruit in them.  I am a jam/preserve kind of gal, not a jelly person.  If it is a fruit something I want either the whole fruit or 100% juice.

A recipe in the Edible Phoenix Spring 2015 issue by Molly Beverly, got me re-thinking because she used the WHOLE FRUIT, minus the seeds.  Okay now we were talking my idea of a 'jam'.

As good as Ms. Beverly's recipe sounded (check out her other recipes on the link for using an abundance of lemons), I wanted something with less sugar.

I found a blog (Living On A Dime) post which was more to my liking - I still tweaked the amount of sugar, but the surprisingly small amount of water was just perfect.

If the recipe seems too easy,  1 fruit, etc. the wonderful thing is you can double, triple etc. You can, easily in the time it takes to cut the fruit and cook for 15 minutes, make a small batch that morning, enough for breakfast or using later in the day!

Our Community Table as the Farmers Market had end of the season Meyer Lemons.  I picked our navels and Moro Blood Orange, making 3 different batches that day.  Each batch consisted of 5 fruit, so I ended up with 3-4 half-pints of each flavor.   I think they look like sunshine in a jar!

Catherine's Marmalade

1 citrus
1 tablespoon water
1/4 to 1/3 cup of sugar per fruit (I use organic cane sugar) - 1/2+ cup for lemons or grapefruit to taste

Wash the fruit well if there is any dust or debris (I find bits of leaves etc. sometimes that have dropped and embedded in our navels and blood oranges).

Cut the ends off, slice in half lengthwise and remove any seeds.

Very thinly slice the fruit, catch all juice.  You can quarter and quarter again lengthwise if you want smaller pieces.  This is the most labor intensive part.  Living on a Dime suggested a blender.  I tried a mandoline and finally gave up and just sliced with a knife.

In a sauce pan combine the water sugar and any juice.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Add fruit and simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour into mason jars and cap.

If you want to can, I chose to hot pack (immediately after cooking the marmalade) in a waterbath for 15 minutes for half-pints.  (Follow normal canning procedures to sterilize the jars and heat the lids.)

The other great thing about desert gardens is the ability to do small batch canning throughout the year - unlike 4 season climates where you are sort of locked into doing gallons and gallons at the end of summer before winter sets in.

If you do not can, refrigerate after it cools down.  Use up within 3-4 weeks.

Beside using as a spread on toast, glaze seafood, chicken or pork with marmalade.  I also make a "Jam Bread" - essentially a quick bread/cake with my preserves and marmalade will work also - going to make one next week and I will post picture and recipe.

Celery in The Desert Garden

I started growing RedVenture celery in the garden several years ago and it now re-seeds freely here and there.  The red means it has some lycopene in the stalks.  The flavor is a bit more strong and 'salty' than typical garden celery.  Besides the idea of having it growing conveniently in your garden, I only need to cut the number of stalks I need for a recipe.  I also sun dry or refrigerator dry leaves for later use.

Kitchen Recycle Celery

Some purchased vegetables can be "recycled" into the garden to regenerate more harvest.  Examples are onion or scallions - cut the bottom 1 inch with root and plant level after soaking for a couple of hours or overnight.  You will have green tops to cut in a few weeks.

One of my favorites it the bottoms or organic celery bunches.  When I do not have enough growing, I buy an organic celery bunch, cut the 1 and a half or 2 inch bottom off, soak overnight and then plant level.  The picture shows one planted January 4th and harvestable tops the end of March.

Waste not - want not :-)

Have a great day in the garden and kitchen.

 -- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Sunday, April 05, 2015

Calvary Arriving to Handle Aphids

Dear Folks,

Several days ago I posted about that the aphids have arrived and using safe soap spray.

I am very careful in using the spray to make sure the good bugs are not among the aphids - and I should have noted that in my post.

Sooooo, the reason to be careful using the spray is also about not spraying willy-nilly.

One of my mantras has been the good bugs (predators of pests) don't show up until you ring the dinner bell, i.e., there has to be some aphid activity to draw the bugs in white hats in.

So here are some good guys who I saw this morning.  The ladybug, of course, but lesser known is the assassin bug. The larvae, young and adult are all good aphid hunters.

It is also important to note that many of these good bugs can bite, they are, after all predators.  Let them do their job and they will reward you by multiplying.

On that same note, many of the larvae, juveniles and some adults need nectar so having something flowering in the garden at all times is good for you and the beneficial insects.

So to the beneficial insects - be a good-bug host, and they will go forth and multiply.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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