Wednesday, February 27, 2013

M'lady's Not Going To Like This Downton Disaster

I've been looking through The Abbey Cooks and decided since I did a downstairs recipe last time, I would try an upstairs recipe this week.  The only condition was that it needed to be something we would actually like to eat.  I found a recipe for orange jelly and crumpets.  Perfect and just what the ladies might have as a light breakfast.

So I got busy juicing just under 10 pounds of oranges which yielded 5 cups of extremely delicious orange juice.  Strained it though a strainer and then again through a cheesecloth, since I neither own nor know what a jelly bag is. Mixed  the juice in a large pot with the sugar and began cooking.  I clipped my trusty thermometer to the side of the pot and waited and waited for the temp to rise.  The mixture began boiling and the line on the thermometer had not budged a bit.  I realized it must not be working, on account of I am smart like that.  No problem I thought since I had watched my grandmother make jelly several times without the aid of a thermometer.  I decided I would wait for a few more minutes stirring constantly then added the liquid pectin.  The directions were specific about time and temperature, but I was operating by feel remembering Grandmother's advice that it would be ready when it flaked off the wooden spoon.  I cooked and stirred until it appeared to flake off then poured it into jars, did the water bath thing and waited for the jelly to cool.

It was time to taste what took me about 2 hours to make.  I popped the top off of one of the jars and stuck my spoon into jelly that had approximately the same consistency as a gummy bear.  Ah!  So this is what it would have been to be Mrs. Patmore when things go awry, execept I don't have Daisy to blame.  It was an epic fail.  Looking back I probably cooked the entire thing for about 15 minutes too long.   The taste was fine if you like rubbery jelly.  Since there is no way to correct overcooked jelly and there was no way on earth it would spread on bread I decided there was no point in making crumpets, especially since the only thing this stuff might do is bounce.

So I have six lovely to look at jars of inedible jelly sitting on my counter.  I guess I am just waiting a bit longer before I toss them, or maybe I will mold it in orbs and capture the market on edible super balls.

I am posting the recipe since it was a user fail and not a recipe issue.  By all means have a working thermometer and pay careful attention to the times  and equipment given!  Read all about canning first here

Orange Jelly

5 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
5 cups sugar
2 packs of liquid pectin

Squeeze and strain the juice and put in a large pot. ( This is going to boil  and froth a lot so have much space.)  Add the sugar and stir to blend together.  Cook over a medium heat until the THERMOMETER registers 220 degrees.  Add the pectin stirring constantly.  Bring the temp back to 200 continuing to stir and cook for 3 more minutes.  Remove from the heat and skim and discard the foam on the top.  Jar in  PREPARED pint or half pint canning jars and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Trust me when I say there are reasons for having all the equipment on hand prior to beginning this process.  If you do not own the proper jar tongs , rack and magnetic lid grabber, either purchase or borrow them before beginning this.  I had none and successfully poured boiling water down my arm as I tried to remove the jars using general kitchen tongs and a silicon oven pad.   Stupid move on my part. Ouch!

As much as I hate to share failures, I guess I really do have to.  I am going to try this again soon.  I have already purchased a new thermometer and am going tomorrow to buy a canning kit.  Only another test will tell if I am incapable of making decent jelly or if I need to continue to support the Smucker family.

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