HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 601: 01 February 2012

Taste of Cooks: Jam making
In this episode, Shona Pitt visits the home of Dora Evans nee (Jonassen), who is a resident of Puaikura. Dora specializes in making jams and marmalades, which she sells at the Punanga Nui Market. Dora has a wide variety of fruit growing in her garden and it is these fruits she uses to make her jams.
Dora’s Orange and lemon marmalade:
Choose fruit that are “on the turn”, that is, not too ripe. The riper it is, the longer it takes to cook and it doesn’t set so easily. Judge these fruits by their colour. If it has a mixture of yellow and green, then it is perfect for the recipe. Dora usually makes her marmalade with two lemons, two sweet oranges and, if you prefer a bitter taste, two grapefruit. If not, you can substitute the grapefruit with two more oranges.
Wash and peel your oranges, setting the peel aside for later use. Separate the pith (the white skin) from the flesh of the fruit and reserve inside a bowl. Although the actual pith is not included in the recipe (as it will make the marmalade too “slimy”), it is a useful ingredient because it adds the bitterness to the marmalade. Also, the pith helps the marmalade set, due to its acidic content. Dice the oranges into bite-sized pieces, remove the seeds and place seeds in same bowl as the pith. Chop the peel into pieces, large or small, whatever you prefer and place in bowl with chopped fruit mixture.
Dora uses the ratio 1:3. That is, for every cup of fruit she uses three cups of water and she splits the amount of water in half, so the orange-and-peel mixture get 11⁄2 cups of water, and the pith/seeds mixture gets the other 1 1⁄2. Leave overnight to soak for 24 hours preferably in the fridge or a cool spot.
After soaking pour the orange-and-peel mixture into a large pot. Using a colander or muslin cloth strain the juice of the pith into the pot and discard pith. It is the juice of the pith that will give the marmalade its gelatine texture. Place on stove and cook for one hour. Once that is done, you must use the ratio 1:1. That is, one cup of cooked fruit measured up to one cup of sugar. If you don’t like it too sweet, then you can change the one cup measurement into three-quarters of a cup. Please bear in mind that it is the sugar that acts as the marmalade’s preserving substance.
When adding the sugar, you must make sure that you turn up the heat and that the marmalade is at the stage of a “rolling” boil, that is, when the mixture over-laps due to the high heat. This procedure also applies to making jam.
Stir for a bit and never leave the pot’s side, as the mixture will eventually froth. Once it is boiling, test it to see if it has set by spooning some of the mixture into a chilled saucer. Set aside for about a minute or two. The marmalade should form a “skin” on the surface. This indicates the marmalade is ready.
Sometimes, the jam won’t set, and that’s when you can add a Jam Setting Mix with a Pectin base. This saves you from throwing out the batch that you just prepared.
Once the marmalade is cooked, Dora sterilizes her jars and lids by placing them into an oven, but there is an alternative. “You can boil the jars in a large pot of water for about 20 minutes,” Dora said. The lids of the jars have a special seal inside them, so that when the marmalade has cooled, it acts like a suction, sealing the jam and preventing it from spoiling. Otherwise you can wrap cellophane on top of the jar, seal it with a rubber band, then screw the lid on.
It is important that you pour the marmalade into the jars while it’s still hot. Do not pour it up to the hilt, just where the screw pattern begins, as you need that space for the air to fill.
You can find Dora at the Punanga Nui Market on Saturday mornings at Hut 48. Feel free to bring her some recycled jars so that she can put them into good use.

-Norma Ngatamariki

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.