Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ginger-Lime Pear Marmalade

Another pear recipe that's perfect for underripe pears. Their crunchy texture, once cooked, gives a nice chewy bite to this marmalade. The natural pectin in the pears and citrus rinds makes it gel beautifully without added pectin.

I've always liked the combination of pear and lime - there's something delicately floral about both of them, and they work perfectly together. And of course ginger is a shoo-in (don't you just love that word?)

The recipe comes from the awesome new Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, so it is safe for canning (it's easier than you think!) and makes 4 half-pint jars. If you don't want to go to the trouble, you can always just refrigerate the jars. But they start to fill up the fridge and you can only eat so much jam, so I say go for it! You will need a jar lifter, though. I've made do with rubber-grip tongs, but that wasn't exactly safe. I've seen canning kits all over the place this time of year, at Lowe's hardware, at Ace, at K-Mart... and the jars are sold at grocery stores, but they don't always have the tools.

3 limes
8 cups thinly sliced, cored, firm pears
4 cups granulated sugar
3 Tbs chopped crystallized ginger
1 1/4 cups water

Remove peel from limes using a vegetable peeler, then slice into very thin strips. Juice the limes, and add to a stainless steel saucepan with the pears, sugar and ginger. Stir well to combine. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

If you wish to can the marmalade, set a large pot of water on to boil (for a small batch like this, a 6-quart stockpot will do). Wash the jars thoroughly and set them in the pot to warm. Set a skillet of water on low heat to warm the lids (you don't need to warm the rings).

In a small stainless steel saucepan, combine the water and lime peel. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook about 15 minutes, or until the peel is very tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Drain liquid into pear mixture.

Bring pear mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, and boil hard for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add peel and boil until mixture gels, about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and test gel.

This is the part I've always had trouble with - I can never tell if it "sheets" off the spoon and I'm never quite organized enough to chill saucers in the freezer for the other test. This book has a great explanation for testing by temperature! 
"Cook the soft spread until it reaches a temperature of... 8ºF (4ºC) above the boiling point of water.... At or below 1,000 feet (305m) above sea level, water boils at 212ºF (100ºC). At higher altitudes, subtract 2ºF (1ºC) for each added 1,000ft (305m) of elevation."
So... at 5,000ft elevation here in Albuquerque, we subtract 10ºF, and water boils at 192ºF. So my spread would be done when the temperature reaches 200ºF.

Once the proper temperature has been reached, skim off any foam. Remove your jars from the pot using your jar lifter, and pour the water out of them. Ladle the marmalade into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles by sliding a knife gently down the sides of the jar. Wipe the rim with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel. Use tongs to lift the lids out of the skillet. Center lid on jar, and screw band down over it to fingertip-tight.

Place jars in the boiling water bath, making sure that they are covered by at least an inch of water. Boil for 10 minutes if you're at sea level, 20 minutes in Albuquerque, 25 minutes in Santa Fe, or 30 minutes in Taos. (You must add 5 minutes for 1000-3000 feet of elevation, 10 minutes for 3000-6000ft, 15 minutes for 6000-8000ft and 20 minutes for 8000-10,000ft.) Turn off the heat, let the jars rest in the bath 5 minutes, then pull them out without tilting them - don't worry about water on the tops, it will just evaporate as they cool. Set them on a dishtowel on the counter and let them sit undisturbed for 24 hours. They will be shelf-stable for at least 6 months.

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