I haven't canned a whole lot so far (my first big experiment was my mom's zucchini relish) so I'm still a bit nervous when I try it. Not that it's especially hard, but there are a lot of variables to worry about.
The other day, I made the marmalade carrots...and didn't realize until after I started that I didn't have any marmalade. Since the chicken has quite an extended cooking time, I figured I could make some marmalade. Not too hard, right? Well, it wasn't. And IMO, it turned out pretty good. A bit too sweet, but I think that was because I was trying to halve Alton Brown's recipe and I was a little rushed.
Here's what I did:
3 medium oranges
1/2 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
3 cups water
1.75 pounds sugar
Slice the oranges into 1/8-inch slices. (A mandoline is recommended but I couldn't find mine, so I just took my time with a very sharp knife). Stack the orange slices and cut them into quarters. Put them into an 8-quart stainless steel pot, add lemon zest, juice and water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes.
Once fruit is soft, return heat to a boil, add the sugar and cook until it reaches the "jelly" stage on a candy thermometer--about 222 degrees F. This will take another 15 to 20 minutes, Then it's ready to use or can :-)
I got two pint jars out of my halving experiment. Enough, because I'm the only one who really eats marmalade around here. I've got those tiny canning jars on my list, so I can start canning more fruits and jams and hopefully a lot of spaghetti sauce when tomatoes are everywhere this summer (I still have high hopes of planting a garden...every year, I say I will and then don't, LOL).
Speaking of Alton, I wanted to mention his "I'm Just Here for the Food" book. I think I've mentioned it before, but it's really one of my go-to books for basics. He explains the science behind WHY brining works well, etc., and I like that aspect. It's kind of like his show, "Good Eats," but on paper ;-) I also picked up the latest Food Network recipe book (the one that's the collection from the magazine) and Ina Garten's "How Easy is That?" I LOVE all of Ina's cookbooks--foolproof, easy recipes that are great for entertaining.
For Easter, I'm planning on making a cherry chipolte barbecue sauce to serve with the ham. If I have time, I'll make extra to can, too. I'm also going to be baking cupcakes this week...and trying to resist the temptation to eat them all before Easter, LOL.