Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gifts from the Garden

It always ends up as a mad rush to Christmas. No matter how I plan or how early I begin, there is always something that I am scrambling to accomplish before the big day.

I was thrilled to be able to share jars of homemade goodies from the garden as gifts this year. I dressed up jars, made some simple labels, and presented them in gift baskets along with some small bags of tortilla chips and homemade English muffins.

In the week before Christmas, a plethora of fruit gifts graced our household. We had an abundance of Florida oranges so I thought I would can some homemade marmalade to include in some gift baskets.

I had never made marmalade before and used Janet Chadwick's recipe from The Beginner's Guide to Preserving Food at Home:
Orange Marmalade
Makes about 7 half-pint jars 
6 large oranges
2 medium lemons
6 cups water
About 6 cups sugar 
1. Wash the fruit. Remove the peel from the oranges and thinly slice. Chop the orange pulp. You should have 4 cups of thinly sliced peel and 4 cups of orange pulp. Thinly slice the lemons. You should have 1 cup of slices. 
2. Combine the fruit, peel, and water in a tall, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat to a simmer and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 12 to 18 hours. 
3. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over medium heat until the peel is tender, about 1 hour. 
4. Preheat the canner, sterilize the jars, and prepare the lids. 
5. Measure fruit and liquid. For each 1 cup of fruit mixture, add 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil, then cook rapidly until marmalade reaches 220°F or sheets off the spoon, about 25 minutes. 
6. Pour hot marmalade into the jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth. Adjust the lids as the manufacturer recommends. 
7. Place the filled jars on a rack in the preheated canner. Process for 10 minutes once the water has returned to a boil. 
8. When the processing time is up, carefully remove the jars from the canner using a jar lifter. 
9. Cool sealed jars. Check seals. Remove screw bands. Label. Store.
I had some difficulty getting the mixture to reach 220°F and even used two different thermometers because I worried that one was faulty. However, the mixture did thicken up and dropped off a chilled spoon in a sheet. In fact the final marmalade ended up a bit too thick. I will know next time to trust the spoon test.

I opened a jar to give the marmalade a taste before packing it up as gifts. The flavor was very good, both sweet and bitter as marmalade should be. I was pretty satisfied from my first try and deemed the jars gift worthy.

I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas filled with family, friends, and food.

Join others at “Thursdays Kitchen Cupboard” at The Gardener of Eden and share a what you've been baking, cooking, canning, drying, or how you have used some of your preserved garden bounty.


  1. Those jars of are just so pretty! I thought I was all done with my holiday shopping etc and then my daughter surprised us by announcing she was coming home for the holiday's afterall (originally was not going to be able and I shipped all her gifts back east!). It was a scramble as a result but well worth it.

  2. I love your homemade garden gifts...my wife and I have been trying to do more of this as well. Might have to try that wonderful marmalade recipe, sounds good. We have never made it before but have found a need for marmalade when making parsnip tarts.

  3. They're really lovely. Lucky recipients!

  4. Very nice gifts and they look so professionally done. I bet the grape jelly was good. Did you grow your own grapes?

  5. Laura: What a wonderful surprise to have your daughter home for the holidays. Enjoy your time with her.

    Mr. H: This is the first year I have had enough canned goods to share. I hope the recipients enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them and dressing them up.

    Stefaneener: Thank you :)

    Kris: The grape jelly is made from Concord grapes that grow on our property. It tastes like Welches.

  6. Your gifts are beautiful. We've never learned how to create labels. It's something we need to do.

  7. Your jars of goodness look great! I gave a lot away for Christmas presents. But, mine weren't all dressed up like that! I do make stick on labels for the tops of some of the jars though.

    We haven't made any marmalade for years. Yours sounds great!

  8. Beautiful jars and yummy looking food. When I was visiting the mid-coast we had 4 inches of snow, hope you had a white Christmas too

  9. Jody: I usually write name and date on the lid of the jars, but I wanted to dress them up a bit for gift giving.

    Robin: I also placed a label on the cover under the fabric so the fabric can be discarded after opening the jar.

    Cohoctonriverrockminifarm: Although it is gone now, we DID have snow for Christmas. About 3 inches fell on Friday. Just enough to cover everything and make it look like a winter wonderland outside. We even had some light flurries fall on Christmas Day. Not enough to accumulate, but it sure was pretty to see.