I had always heard that you shouldn't put citrus in compost bins for a host of reasons all of which I now know to be wrong. You can compost all the citrus you want if it is in small pieces (some sour oranges do not break down if they are kept whole - I don't know the science).
So, armed with this new information, I knew that I was going to be finding a quick way to break all of these remains into small pieces for composting.
Let's hold that thought for a moment (because this is how my brain works)...
- When I was making jams last summer, I found myself trying not to use those packages of store bought pectin. I don't know why. Perhaps just to see if I could?
- Pectin wasn't available in boxes back in the oldie days.
- Apples and citrus are full of naturally occuring pectin.
- I have piles of blood orange remains that I need to break down for composting.
Do you see how this happens? One minute, you are perfectly sane while juicing a perfectly normal amount of oranges and the next you are considering making your own pectin. (Those italics denote sarcasm,)
Homemade Blood Orange Pectin
Note: I used the Googles to see who had already tried this about halfway through my own process. There have been a couple of people - each with their own very different process. I will not be applying the Cooks Illustrated treatment to pectin making. Instead, I will be adding to the variety of techniques that are out there and encouraging you to make it up as you go.
- I chopped up the zested, juiced orange remains and put these blood orange carcasses in the blender. I added as little water as I could get away with.
(Remember - I have 2 different colors because I pushed a bit too much on the fruit to get the liquid out. The top half will result in clearer jams.)
I tasted the pectin. It is bitter (not surprisingly - it is made of orange piths) but has some of that distinct raspberry flavor of blood oranges. I am very excited to play with this in the summer.
Things I want to remember:
- One package of store bought pectin is 3 liquid ounces. Until I make some jam with those early June strawberries, I won't know if this pectin can be substituted in equal amounts.
- If I want my jams to be clear, I will only use the pectin in the top half of my jars. If my resulting product can afford to be cloudy, I know that I can use the pectin from the bottom of the jar as well.
- If I make my own apple pectin, I can skip the composting and make fruit leathers with the remaining mush. Crazy.
One final warning: Making your own pectin results in an INSANE amount of dirty dishes. Seriously insane. But then again, so is making your own pectin.
As always, I want to thank my husband for putting up with the madness and for taking some of these pictures when my hands were ridiculously sticky and stained red.