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In praise of marmalade. September 13, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. Marmalade, a less-sweet cousin of jams, preserves and jellies, is in my opinion an underrated kitchen hero. Long gone are the days when you could only get orange marmalade, often stuffed with sugar (or, gasp, high-fructose corn syrup) and sadly lacking in actual orange and orange zest. Now real all-fruit orange marmalade, lemon marmalade, lime marmalade, grapefruit marmalade, blood orange marmalade, even ginger marmalade is available.

So okay, you’ve got your jar of marmalade and you’ve got it home from the store. Now what? Well, it’s great for breakfast on toast, English muffins, croissants, crumpets, or as a glaze on hot scones. (With butter, people, butter.) But that’s just the beginning. Because marmalade isn’t super-sweet but is super-flavorful with its citrus or ginger hit, it’s perfect on other things as well. Think of it as a glaze on cheesecake or chicken, or paired with feta cheese in a phyllo wrap or cream cheese in a wanton wrap or topping baked Brie. And think what some marmalade could do to add complexity to your Thanksgiving cranberry sauce!

Marmalade is also a very versatile substitute for other sauces and dressings. You can use it in place of duck sauce, orange sauce, General Tso’s sauce, and the like if you find yourself out of them and need dipping sauce for spring rolls or egg rolls or sauce for Chinese dishes. It’s delicious as a substitute if you run out of chutney and are serving Indian food. (Ditto for adding to dal, baked beans, lentil stew, and the like.) It’s also great mixed with oil, Dijon mustard, and vinegar in a salad dressing for fruit- or cheese-based salads. Not to mention as a glaze for piecrust, or a topping for cake or vanilla ice cream. (Our favorite is Ben & Jerry’s.)

For the adventurous, I’d suggest an omelet stuffed with cream cheese and/or shredded Swiss cheese and a (very) thin layer of orange marmalade. It’s the adult version of Dr. Seuss’s famous “green eggs” (made by scrambling eggs with Concord grape jelly, which turns them green); your choice whether to add the ham (or Canadian bacon). With adequate salt and some toasted, buttered English muffins, you might become addicted. Try it and see!

‘Til next time,

Silence

Best store-bought marmalade? May 13, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. We’re big fans of marmalade here at Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home our friend Ben and I share in the precise middle of nowhere, PA. If we’re indulging in toast or English muffins or croissants for breakfast, we typically eat them hot with butter and a choice of marmalade and another jelly, jam or preserves, such as sour cherry jam or Alma Weaver’s locally famous hot pepper jellies (blackberry/Czech Black or apricot/Lemon Drop, for example). Yum!

Unfortunately, OFB—who indulges in these breakfast treats almost daily—isn’t the best at telling me when the marmalade’s about to run out. This is pretty aggravating, since I often use marmalade for cooking, as well—a couple of tablespoons in a pot of lentils or a teaspoon mixed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a dressing over mixed greens, mandarin oranges, red onion, and almonds, for example. So, when I noticed there was hardly a teaspoon left in our current jar, and OFB and I were heading off on our weekly grocery round, I added marmalade to my list.

I’m not desperately picky when it comes to marmalade. I like marmalade made with bitter Seville oranges, including shreds of rind, as is traditional. But I also like marmalade made with grapefruit, and would love to try blood orange marmalade. I’d rather have quince jelly than quince marmalade (the first kind of marmalade, before it was made from citrus), and don’t care for lemon or lime marmalade, unless you’re adding them to a pie or frosting. I’m sorry that sugar has to be a major ingredient in marmalade, but given the bitter component of the peels, it makes sense. (Another reason I view marmalade as an indulgence.)

So OFB and I went to a little local grocery after running errands this past Saturday. Running down my list, I said, “Ben, we need marmalade!” We swung by the jelly/peanut butter/bread aisle (see what you think of that). There was orange marmalade. Yay! There was its ingredients list, with high-fructose corn syrup listed as the first ingredient. Yikes! But fortunately, there was an alternative: Smucker’s orange marmalade. I would be happy to pay the premium to get real marmalade with real sugar. But alas, its first ingredient was high fructose corn syrup, as well.

Returning home empty-handed, I rushed to the fridge and sure enough, the almost-empty jar (thanks, OFB) also listed high-fructose corn syrup as its main ingredient. Turning to my good friend Google, I searched for marmalade without sugar or with real sugar. I came up with a handful of recipes. I don’t know about you, but damned if I’m zesting anything; I want my marmalade premade in a jar. So I tried again, and this time, I got a hit from Smucker’s. Sheesh, I thought, I guess they make real marmalade after all! But clicking on the link, I saw that it was for sugar-free marmalade made with Splenda. I have nothing against Splenda, I just don’t want it in my marmalade. Back to the drawing board.

I finally struck gold when I searched for “what’s the best brand of marmalade.” Readers recommended Dundee, Polaner All Fruit, Rose’s, Trappist Monk marmalades, Sara Beth’s, Robertson’s Thick Cut, Stonewall Kitchen’s pink grapefruit marmalade, Wilkin & Sons Tiptree marmalades (especially the Tawny Thick-Cut and Crystal), Busha Browne’s, June Taylor’s, Robert Lambert’s, and Frank Cooper’s Oxford marmalades. Unfortunately, many of these are imported or artisanal brands that must be mail-ordered at premium prices. But some of them (Polaner, Robertson’s, Dundee) might be available in a decent-sized grocery store. Next time OFB and I go grocery shopping, I plan to keep my eyes peeled!

Do you have a favorite marmalade?

‘Til next time,

Silence