Friday, October 5, 2012

New England Carrot Marmalade

On Wednesday, before and after going to the last game of the National League East champion Washington Nationals, (How's that for a phrase?) (Where racing President Teddy Roosevelt won for the first time in 525 games, by the way) I made New England Carrot Marmalade. The word marmalade originates in Portuguese where it refers to quince jam. The Internet is either silent or convoluted on the issue of how orange marmalade transmigrated across the Atlantic into tomato, cucumber, carrot and yes, quince marmalade in New England. (Convoluted means I can't find an article on this.)
My theory about the vegetable marmalades is that the gardener/cook had a lot of some kind of veg., and marmalade was one thing to make from it. This makes sense because oranges were not terribly common in the average home around the turn of the century. So a clever cook might devise a recipe that used a couple of oranges and a lot of something else to make marmalade.
So it is with carrot marmalade. Carrot marmalade contains two oranges and two lemons and four pounds of carrots. It's easy. It also does not take an inordinate amount of time to thicken. I started making it, and realized at 11:00 that I had to make a lightening fast trip to Safeway for more sugar. I hopped into the car and raced there and back to be ready for my ride to the Nats' last game.
It says cook slowly until mixture is thickened. Now, there is always the problem about what thickened means. This mixture is thick anyway. The recipe does not contain any liquid other than that produced by the fruits and vegetables. Or at least it's not supposed to. The cook is instructed to bring it all to a simmer and then add sugar.
Well, after the game, (Nats won!)  I had my ground oranges and lemons and carrots in my pot, and simmer wasn't happening. It was making that hissing sound that onions make frying in a pan. So I added two cups of water, one at a time. The mixture soaked up the first cup almost completely. The second cup made things a little more liquidy. But  it was primarily ground carrots, oranges and lemons with a puddle around the base of it.
Then, I added the sugar, and something interesting happened. The marmalade to be transformed from a pile of shavings to a soup and appeared to increase in volume. If you wish to make this recipe, my advice is to add the sugar first, before you add any water, and see what happens. Accept that unless you have extremely juicy oranges and lemons, you will not be able to bring the mixture to a simmer first. My guess is that you will need less water.
It was not necessary to boil the marmalade for three or four hours. It thickened pretty quickly, within 45 minutes. It tastes pretty much like any old orange marmalade, since it contains oranges and the taste of carrots was overwhelmed by the sugar.

New England Carrot Marmalade

4 cups cooked (slightly underdone) carrots
2 lemons, seeded
2 oranges, seeded
6 1/2 cups sugar

1. Coarsely grind the carrots, lemons and oranges, reserving any liquid or juice that comes from them. Place carrots, lemons, oranges and any reserved liquid or juice in a large kettle and bring to a simmer.
2. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick.
3. Pour into hot sterilized jelly jars. Pour tow thin layers of melted paraffin over. Cool. Cover and store in a cool, dark, dry place.
Makes about six eight-ounce jelly jars.

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