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Thursday, June 24, 2010

~Fiery Summer Colors~ Plum spicy variations on classic summer fare

 So I'm back in my canning shoes with help from the proverbial shoehorns of cheap Kerr supplies and an abundance of ripening summer fruit at the farmers market.  This time of year the market really gets going and we begin to run into all kinds of interesting hybrid produce.  One such fruit I've never come across before is the somewhat obscure Aprium: a more labor-intensive cultivar, hybrid cousin to the Pluot and the Plumcot.
My last batch of unusual Marmalade was a hit with visiting family so I got all set to make more but I had no grapefruit, as the recipe would suggest.  I did however have the rough volume of a large grapefruit in organic, reddish, ripening apriclom... plapricot... Apriums!  OK, Got it!  Lets go!

~Spicy Aprium Orange Marmalade~

6 Large Oranges (the heavier the orange = juicier)
5 Apriums (Pluots or Red Plums work too)
1 Small Habanero Pepper
3 Tablespoons Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon Grand Mariner
3 Teaspoons Calcium Water
3 C Water
2-3 C Sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
4 Teaspoons Pomona's Universal Pectin

                              Canning Utensil Kit including:
                                 Jar Lifter Tongs
                                 Head Room Measuring Stick
                                 Lid Magnet Wand
                                 Canning Funnel
                                 XL Pot for boiling

Yield - 7 8oz Jars

When I got started on this recipe and I had all my mise en place in order I noticed some leftover habanero peppers (from a spicy guacamole... future post perhaps) sitting in a bowl on the side of the counter.  I've always loved sweet fruit dishes with some background spice so I though it would work as well with jams and jellies as it does with spicy candy fillings and juices!  So it does as it turns out, but be aware that a little goes a LONG way when it comes to Habaneros.

This recipe, like the last Marmalade post, is produced with a calcium-catalyzed, low-ester pectin (in this case Pomona's) but you should be fine following the recipe included with most pectin powders.   

Wash your Apriums or Plums thoroughly and remove the stones and stem segments, then rough chop. De-seed and cut the hot pepper into small pieces. Put peppers, apriums, lime juice and grand marnier in the blender and blend on high speed for 4 minutes.

Speaking of peppers here rather than there...  or more about what the "hot" really is...


Just some notes on spicy, spicy peppers and including them in recipes!  What exactly happens when we eat any number of spicy peppers from the mild bell pepper all the way up to the near gamma radiation level spice of the south asian Ghost Pepper (a Scoville rating of nearly 1 million) is the defining chemical Capsaicin acting to irritate the mucus membranes of our mouthes.  This chemical, a hydrophobic long chain hydrocarbon, will by definition repel water and most water containing compounds and mixtures.  Just as with a grease fire, the common gut reaction to throw water on it will end badly, the water simply dispersing the capsaicin in tiny particle form and causing the burning to spread acordingly.  Often the only cure is a glass of milk, the casein (a phosphoprotein) in milk solids  with a detergent effect.

Capsaicin Molecular Geometry

Capsaicin is not water soluble bit it is Alcohol soluble. In this case we've added a tiny bit of grand marnier to the plum puree in order to disperse and distribute the capsaicin from the peppers. The alcohol acts to help the chemical spiciness penetrate the jam base, creating a more even, mild heat throughout, in balance with the other flavors. Like-dissolves-like strikes again! Spicy Fiery Science!


Remove the zest from 3 oranges and set aside. Slice one orange thin then quarter the slices.  Supreme remaining oranges, chop the segments and place them along with water, calcium water, zest, orange slices and fruit puree in a large soup pot and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 22 minutes, stirring sparingly then remove from heat.  Whisk together sugar and pectin powder in a separate bowl then stir vigorously into cooked fruit. Bring to a boil once more then remove from heat.


Drain your Jars and tins and get them ready to fill.  Its best to work on a fresh clean towel to pick up any excess water and maintain a clean environment all the while.  A towel also keeps the hot glass jars from sliding around and potentially off the counter.
Fill your jars up to 1/4" head space, wipe the rims, and press the lids down snug. Screw on rings finger tight and place in boiling pot to boil 12 minutes. Remove from the pot, tighten the rings, and cool on a wire rack.  You may need to add some more time to the boiling time to build up the right amount of pressure.  Correct  +1 minute per 1000 feet above sea level


If any don't, use immediately or toss out as it can turn bad quickly. These will keep for months unopened and for up to 3 weeks in the fridge after opening.

Since jams, jellies and marmalades have so many variables, like how much water is added, sugar levels, pectin levels, how much fruit to zest or to acid, they can be experimented with and altered to no end!  Sometimes though, the experimentation comes in making use of the end product.  I'm thinking of spicing this recipe up and making a chocolate cake filling...  But don't let me put your ideas in a box!  Go try whatever you can think of, even if you think it might not work.  Just have fun in the mean time!



Stephfret said...

This looks great, and I am especially attracted to a) a fruit I have never heard of and b) impromptu use of habanero! I have made chilli jam before which is sweet and delectable and blows your head off at the same time—that goes especially well on a cracker with a little cream or goat’s chesse, perhaps your lovely Apricum version would too?

VegeCooking Club said...

I love spicy and sweet together. great combo!

Pastry Ninja said...

I know I love the cream cheese and pepper jam combo but I never really though of it with this... funny. I think with this (depending on preference of course) the goat cheese would be better because of the marmalade's plum flavor. Like a breaded goat cheese "fritter" with plum/fig port wine compote

Chef Dennis Littley said...

what a great post!! My canning skills are almost non existent...It's good to get tips from someone who know's what they are doing!

Frank said...

I'm thinking this would be really good as a glaze on top of grilled salmon. Yes?

Pastry Ninja said...

Great thought! Was just about to grill up a piece of said fish actually so I'll have to try!

Shel said...

I really like that you add the food science tidbits to your posts. They are interesting and still leave the recipe as the star. However, in this post, I'm not sure what you mean by calcium water. Could you elaborate?

Pastry Ninja said...

Thanks for the heads up about the calcium water! I the pectin levels from the Pomona's Universal Pectin box and changed them slightly. It's a type of pectin that sets without a lot of additional sugar in watery recipes using calcium as a catalyst.
If you're using the same pectin this recipe will follow accordingly but if you have a standard pectin you can omit the calcium water and simply use a standard ratio of sugar to pectin. In this case it I think you could get away with 2 or 3 C sugar to about 1/2 package (about 3/4 oz) standard powdered fruit pectin. Hope this helps clear things up! Thanks :)

Shel said...

It does! Thank you!