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Katie Meadow

Tools of the Marmalade Trade

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Seville oranges are now available, so it's time for us to get to work over the next couple of months. Our annual marmalade supply  is about 30 jars to allow for a few give-aways. We've done this for so many years that it really isn't a huge amount of fun, but a necessary chore. At the rate we consume the stuff just on toast alone it would be insane to buy it.

 

And of course, we are fussy about our marmalade. We like it bitter, clear and fine cut. Our method is to juice the oranges, scrape as much pith as possible from the rinds until the rind is so thin it practically filters light. That's mostly my husband's tedious job. My tedious job is to do the fine cutting. It works: we end up with marmalade we really like.

 

The scraping away of the pulp is the worst part. I sometimes cut away most of it with a sharp knife. My husband finds that a grapefruit spoon works for him, but takes forever. The grapefruit spoon idea is good in theory, but grapefruit spoons aren't really sharp enough to strip away thick pulp efficiently. So here's what I'm asking: can you suggest any tool or technique (improvised or available for purchase) that makes scraping the rind clean any less annoying and time consuming? At this point I would invest in a machine if one existed or hire some kitchen elves. Thanks!

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If you're willing to order a few special chemicals, it seems like a Pectinex blend can perform enzymatic peeling and remove all pith, leaving you only with the skin. For a batch that large, it might be worth investigating.

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PS: I am a guy.

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I know nothing about making marmalade but I would be inclined to focus on removing the zest without any of the pith - even if that meant leaving some of the zest behind.  Of course you would do that before you juice them.  Would that be too costly or is there some other reason not to do that?

 

Martha Stewart has a pretty good demo of tools/methods for removing zests.  It sounds like a channel knife would produce what you need in one step - not counting some cutting to length.

 


Edited by rustwood (log)
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Do you blanch them a few times first or scrape them raw?  I have to agree with rustwood, why not use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to cut the thin layer of zest before juicing the oranges?  When I make candies orange zest I cut the zest off in strips using my chef's knife, then i go back and trim down any thick pieces of pith.

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I use my method of removing the whole peel - making a single cut so I have a long strip of peel.  The process is documented in photos on my blog - here -  I've been using this method for about 40 years.

I use an "avacado" tool that is sharp enough to remove the pith without cutting into the peel itself.

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I roll the peel into a cylinder and cut it into fine slivers if I am doing a small batch.  For large batches I use a marmalade cutter.

 

And I "juice" the oranges by putting them through the blender and straining out the pulp.  I like clear marmalade.


Edited by andiesenji Adding a comment (log)
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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Back when I used to make Thai curry pastes commercially peeling limes was the worst job.

Until I discovered one of these Apple peelers .

 


Edited by johnmc Amazon link (log)
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23 hours ago, Shalmanese said:

If you're willing to order a few special chemicals, it seems like a Pectinex blend can perform enzymatic peeling and remove all pith, leaving you only with the skin. For a batch that large, it might be worth investigating.

 

Good call!  As you said, this looks like a fantastic solution for bulk processing and it is fairly inexpensive. You don't need much of it and the currently available incarnation of it is available for ~$9 from modernistpantry.com.  I might get some just to play around with it.

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On 17/01/2016 at 1:09 PM, JoNorvelleWalker said:

@johnmc I have one of those apple peelers!  Never thought to try it on citrus.  Does it really, really strip the zest and leave the pith?

 

Yes, it really does. I used to do 5 kg of limes per week for 8 years.

The depth of the strip is adjustable so you just adjust till it´s right. 

The blade holder is spring loaded but because the skins of lemons and limes are a bit harder than apples I found it best to gently add a little extra pressure with my finger.

You quickly get really good at it

You also need a small round file or sharpening stone to keep the blade sharp.

Let us know how you go.

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Thanks for all the suggestions. We are making our first batch of the year today and I think we will try peeling first, then juicing. I'll start with the peeler we already own and see how that goes. In a test I found the results a little thinner than we are used to, but maybe my husband can get a thicker peel with additional pressure. I can't say my peeler is terribly sharp or easy to control. It is an OXO but I'm not impressed.

 

The Johnny Apple peeler looks great and sounds great, especially the fact that the thickness of the peel can be adjusted, but I have one reservation: it looks like the width of the strip is very narrow, and that doesn't appear to be adjustable, unless it comes with interchangeable width blades. I need the peel to be at least 5/8 inch wide so I can cross-cut it into thin slivers.

 

The Avocado doohickey is pretty interesting as well, and could work for scraping the pith away as we have done in the past. I can't imagine needing it for an avocado, but it's cheap enough to experiment with.

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