Accidentally Cooking

Documenting my mistakes in the garden, kitchen and pantry


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Orange Pomegranate Wine

A quick google search for the term “Orange Pomegranate Wine” returns no relevant results. This means one of two things:

  1. I’m terrible at using Google
  2. I’m the only person in the world stupid enough to try it.

Whatever, I never let my crushing incompetence stop me from trying new things before, why would this be any different?

At the grocery store both Pomegranates and Valencia juice oranges were on sale, so I picked up a few of the poms and a big bag of the oranges. I found a recipe online that called for 10 pomegrantes for a gallon of pomegranate wine. I found another recipe that called for about the same number of oranges for a gallon of orange wine. Combining recipes and cutting in half (because I only have a half gallon jug to use) gives me this recipe:

Orange Pomegranate Wine

  • 3 Pomegranates
  • 2 cups fresh squeezed oranges
  • Zest of half an orange (with all pith painstakingly removed)
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • White Sugar [1]
  • 1/2 tsp Yeast Nutrient
  • 1/2 tsp Pectic Enzyme
  • 1/2 Campden Tablet
  • Yeast [2]

Juice the oranges and add the juice to a stockpot. Cut open the pomegranates and remove the arils, discarding the white membranes. Add the arils to the orange juice in the stock pot, crushing as best as possible. Add the honey and zest, and bring the mixture to a boil. Let cool to room temperature.

Add the pectic enzyme, yeast nutrient and campden tablet, crushed. Stir, cover with a towel, and let sit overnight.

Uncover the bucket, fan off the fumes, and pitch the yeast. Allow to ferment until the bubbles stop. Transfer to secondary for long-term aging.

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After taking this picture, I juiced the oranges and pomegranate you see in this picture, brought the juice to a boil (to sterilize), cooled it again, and used it to top off the jug. Less air in there is better, and the extra juice should improve flavor.

Notes

  1. I added about 2.5 cups of white sugar to bring the SG up to 1.090. I thought about going higher to 1.100, but decided to just stay where I was at.
  2. I used a leftover packet of Cotes Des Blancs. It seemed a little sluggish in the starter, but looks like it picked up over time.
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Triple Sec and Orange Extract

This is the end of my citrus-themed block of blog posts. I know you all have been patiently waiting for me to get to the good stuff: the booze. In my last couple recipes I’ve been saving Orange zest and putting it into a jar with vodka. When the jar was filled, I let it sit, patiently. Today I present two recipes for turning this mixture into Triple Sec for drinking and Orange Extract for baking (and emergency drinking).

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Orange Extract

  • Orange Zest (peels with the white pith removed) [1]
  • Vodka (stronger is better [2])

Put the orange zest in a jar. Fill with vodka. Put the lid on it. Go watch TV.

In a few weeks[3] (I hope you didn’t spend that entire time in front of the tube!) you should have delightful orange extract. Strain out the peels. Put the mixture into a nice-looking jar and keep it somewhere out of reach of direct sunlight and unattended teenagers.

Triple Sec

  • Orange Zest (peels with the white pith removed)
  • Vodka (Stronger is better)
  • Simple Syrup [4]

Put the orange zest in a jar. Fill with vodka. Put the lid on it. Go watch TV.

After a few weeks [3], you’ve got orange extract (deja vu, anybody?). Make a simple syrup with equal parts sugar and water, heating on the stove until all the sugar is dissolved. Allow the syrup to cool. Mix equal parts of orange extract and syrup together. Mix well to get home-made Triple Sec. Drink it all. Wake up 1000 miles away in the bathroom of a Greyhound bus without any socks on [5].

Results

Here’s a picture showing my bottle of Triple Sec, a jar of extract, and the drained jar of pathetic-looking orange peels.

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The triple sec is very tasty, especially once it’s been allowed to refrigerate and cool down to a drinkable temperature.  Once cooled, it’s very tasty indeed. The orange extract has a great orange aroma and nice muted orange flavor. Dana and I are both looking forward to some Margaritas and some orange-flavored baked goods.

Notes

  1. I used mostly zest from the Moro Blood Oranges, which have a slightly different taste from what something like a Navel or a Valencia orange might have.
  2. The wonderful state of PA keeps our options pretty limited. We used regular 80-proof vodka. One day I’ll go down to a liquor store in DE to buy the good stuff, and then I’ll be a felon. Or a misdemeanon (depending on the quantity that I transport over state lines).
  3. Several people I’ve seen online recommend waiting at least 6 weeks, but I did not wait that long. Surprise surprise.
  4. Simple Syrup is, depending on which recipe you follow, equal parts water and sugar, boiled until all the sugar is dissolved. I’ve also seen variations substituting orange juice for the water, and adding more sugar than liquid (4:3, etc) or both. All my juice ended up in the jam recipes, so I just used water.
  5. But your shoes are still on, for some reason. What the heck have you been doing for the last three days, and where did your socks go?


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Orange and Chocolate Jam

I really wanted to try something new, so I picked two recipes out of my book and presented them to my wife for a decision: Coconut Vanilla Jam or Orange and Chocolate Jelly. Somewhat unsurprisingly, she opted for the one with chocolate in it. WHO’D ‘A THUNK IT?

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I had a pile of oranges which hadn’t yet been eaten or cooked into some other concoction. I took the rest of my Navel oranges and a few Cara Caras and made the jelly my wife requested.

Orange and Chocolate Jelly

  • 1 3/4 lbs Granny Smith Apples
  • Water
  • Oranges [1]
  • 6 oz Extra Bittersweet Chocolate [2]
  • Sugar, divided[3]
  • Pectin Powder [4]
  • Lemon Juice [5]

Day 1: Rinse, stem and quarter the apples. Do not seed them. Put the quarters into a pot with a heavy 3 cups of water [6]. Boil for 30 minutes. Strain the juice out and refrigerate.

Day 2: Juice the oranges. Get a heavy 2 cups of juice[7]. Mix the orange juice, an equal amount of the apple juice from the day before, zest from two oranges, juice from 1 lemon and the sugar. Finely chop the chocolate and mix that in. Bring to a boil, stirring until the chocolate is melted. Let cool, preferably refrigerating overnight.

Day 3: Mix the pectin power with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar to avoid clumps. Add this sugar-pectin mixture to the juice mixture from the previous day. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring. Boil hard for 5 minutes, until set point is reached. Put into warm sterilized jars and process [8].

Results

The resulting jelly is very rich and the bitterness of the chocolate almost overpowers the flavor of the orange. Almost. It’s still a good mixture but in the future I may tone down the amount of chocolate used. The chocolate did not incorporate into the rest of the mixture as well as I was hoping. Some bits of it absolutely refused to mix in at all and floated on top as solids. I skimmed most of that off, which further reduced the amount of chocolate in the final product (and it was still very rich!).

Here’s a picture of the chocolate orange jelly and the blood orange jelly, on toast. If they had been smashed into my face any harder, I’d have needed to call my dentist.

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This recipe, with some tweaking, is definitely a winner.

Notes

  1. I used a mixture of 4 Navels and 2 Cara Caras.  The original recipe called for, after the squeezing was over, 1 pound, 2 ounces of juice. Converted to liquid measure, that’s about 2 1/4 cups. When I squeeze the juice, I keep a lot of the pulp.
  2. The original recipe calls for “Extra Bittersweet” chocolate, 68% cacao or better. I only found a 60% and a bar of 100%, so I mixed them. However, a large portion of the chocolate did not incorporate well  and I don’t know if the 100% chocolate melts differently from the other variety. Also, the original recipe calls for 9 oz, but the damn bars are…you guessed it, 4oz each. I probably only used about 6 oz total, and the resulting jelly was so rich that 4 oz might have been okay.
  3. Her recipe called for something like 4 cups of sugar or more. F that. I used about three cups of sugar the second day and another quarter cup of sugar on the last day to help mix the pectin in.
  4. As usual, her original recipe didn’t contain powdered pectin. Just the juice from the boiled Granny Smiths. I wanted a thicker result so I mixed in half a bag of pectin powder.
  5. With the chocolate, which I’ve never used in jam or jelly before, I wanted to be safe and include a little bit extra lemon juice. However, I forgot to add it, and now the jars are sealed. I’m stupid. The oranges might be acidic enough to keep the botulism at bay, but I’m not taking any chances. We’re just going to have to eat all this damned jelly extra quick (I can just imagine how much we’re going to suffer). If you’re following along at home and you don’t want to die because you’re as stupid as I am, add the juice of one or two lemons.
  6. 3 cups, 1 oz. Eyeball it.
  7. 2 cups, 1 oz.
  8. I processed for 15 minutes.


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Blood Orange Jelly

Last time I made this recipe, I used a combination of Naval oranges, Tangerines and Lemons to get the amount of juice that the recipe called for. I didn’t have any Blood Oranges at the time even though the recipe I was following is titled simply “Blood Orange“. Instead I used what I had, and the results were great. It was bright, light, sweet, and very citrusy.

Things are slightly different now. I do have the blood oranges I need, but I don’t have any of the Granny Smith apples that the original recipe requires. It’s time to go a little bit off-road and create some ruby red Blood Orange Jelly.

Blood Orange Jelly

  • 4 cups fresh squeezed Blood Orange Juice [1]
  • Zest of two of those oranges [2]
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 packet Sure-Jel low-sugar pectin

Squeeze out the juice. Follow the general directions on the pectin packet [3]. Put into jars and process[4]. That should be more than enough direction for anybody who isn’t a complete wuss in the kitchen [5].

Here’s the pot full of beautiful ruby-red juice:

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And here’s the pile of zested and juiced orange remains, on their way to the compost pile:

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Results

The resulting jelly is deep ruby read and tastes great. I was expecting it to be the same breezy flavor as my earlier jelly with the Navels and Tangerines. This is not what it is at all. The flavor is deep, complex, mature, and amazing. It’s got a flavor that seems like it could be a mixture of navel orange and grapefruit, if grapefruits didn’t suck so bad, and with a couple other flavors mixed in too. It’s a little bit more full of a flavor than my earlier orange jelly recipe was, with a little bit more of the blood orange astringency at the end. It’s definitely a little bit more tart and less sweet.

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Overall this recipe is very good, and already a favorite of mine (I say that about all my jams!). I suspect that this great complex blood orange flavor will mix very well in other recipes that I am starting to imagine.

Moro Blood Oranges are not considered to be the tastiest of the various Blood Orange varieties. However, they do seem to be the only ones my local stores carry. If I can find some other varieties, I may revisit this recipe. Considering how great this recipe turned out with the Moros, I can only imagine how much better it might be with a more highly-regarded variety.

Notes

  1. It took me just shy of 6lbs of oranges to get enough juice, and it took me about an hour to squeeze it all out. My $%&! oranges were sort of small and stingy with the juice. The oranges were acidic enough that, I hope, additional lemon juice was not needed. I didn’t add any.
  2. I zested two oranges with the microplane into the jelly concoction, but I used a vegetable peeler to save most of the rest of the zest from the remaining oranges and put them into a large quart jar filled with vodka. Look forward to a Triple Sec recipe in the next few posts.
  3. Mix the pectin with some of the sugar in a bowl, and stir together to prevent lumps. Add the juice, pectin and sugar to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil hard for 1 minute (boiling to the point that stiring it doesn’t make the bubbles go away). Put in jars and process.
  4. I processed for 15 minutes
  5. Every time I go into the kitchen I get so overwhelmed that I fall to the ground and cry. Everything is so bright and so hot. I don’t know what I’m doing. I mask my debilitating lack of skill and confidence by hastily writing an awkwardly unfunny blog. Also, I’m sorry about calling anybody a wuss. You’re probably not. You could probably beat me up in a fight. Please don’t fight me.


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A Plethora of Oranges

When I started this blog it was very easy to post twice-weekly updates about the garden. I had lots of posts written up and scheduled ahead of time, because I knew the winter season was going to be slow. Well guess what? Even having about 10 extra posts written ahead of time didn’t help keep me on schedule. First I start missing posts, then I publish three posts about trees with no stinking pictures. I know what you’re all thinking:

That’s right, it’s time to get my shit together.

To make up for my lack of consistent posts I needed to do something drastic: So I went out and bought a metric crap-ton of oranges and I’m going to make stuff with them for your reading pleasure (and, my eating pleasure).

A few nights ago on a whim (all my best and worst and in between projects start that way) I ran out to the grocery store and bought a bunch of oranges. I picked up some Moro Blood Oranges and some Lemons. The store also had, for the first time I can remember, large Cara Cara Oranges instead of the normal Navel ones. I bought 10 of them. I also had about half that many Navel Oranges laying around from last week, and am including them in my shenanigans. Prepare yourself for Orange mayhem, in absurdly non-threatening house-man style.


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Orange Jelly

After making my by first batch of Clementine Jam with Cinnamon and Vanilla, I was emboldened to try a few other new recipes from my new book. I decided to take a stab at the “Blood Orange” recipe, with regular Navel oranges because that’s what I had.

Orange Jelly

  • 1 3/4 lbs Granny Smith Apples
  • Heavy 2 cups of Orange Juice (2 cups, 1 oz.  Eyeball it)
  • zest from 1 1/2 oranges
  • Water
  • 4 2/3 cups Sugar
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • Powdered Pectin

Day 1: Rinse the apples. Quarter them. Put them in a pot with a heavy 3 cups water [1]. Bring the pot to a boil, and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Strain out the juice (she strains twice, with damp cheesecloth). Refrigerate over night.

Day 2: Juice the oranges, and measure out a heavy 2 cups of orange juice [2].  Mix the Orange juice, an equal amount of the apple juice from the first day, the sugar, and  the lemon juice in a pot [3]. I zested 3 orange halves at the last minute and tossed it into the pot as well [4]. I also added my remaining half bag of pectin, just to make sure it set properly. Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring, and boil hard for 10 minutes. Remove the seeds if you added them, and then put the jelly in jars and process them.

Here’s a picture of my recent creations, from left to right: my clementine jam, a jar with some orange zest infusing in booze, and my orange jelly.

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Results

The jelly turned out very nice. The set was just about perfect, although there were some small clumps of undissolved pectin in the finished product. The flavor was very bright and orange-ish, without any discernible bitterness. I’ve already tried it with butter on toast, and it was wonderful. I suspect it will go great with some cream cheese on a bagel, or as part of a glaze over chicken.

I didn’t do as good a job skimming the foam off the top as I should have, so some of that ended up in the jars, along with the clumps of pectin. Mulligan. Obviously it’s all edible, but it does detract from the clear, sparkling beauty of the jelly, if you care about that sort of thing. The little bits of zest are visible, and create a great effect.

Possible Modifications

This was a very simple recipe and sometimes simplicity is rewarded. However, there are some things that I think could be changed in future batches, if I were the experimental type:

  • Obviously, do this with blood oranges for the original intended results.
  • Some flavorings that (i think) may go great with this are: fresh crushed black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, “apple pie spice”, etc
  • Some fruits that may go well with this are: Other citrus (lemon, lime, tangerine, grapefruit), cranberries, pineapple, pomegranate, blueberry
  • Various flavored liquors and flavor extracts (vanilla, triple-sec, cranberry or pomegranate liquor, etc)

Notes

  1. She says 3 cups, 2oz. 3 1/4 cup should be fine and easier to measure. I think that the granny smith apple juice is supposed to be the primary source of pectin, since she doesn’t use any powder.
  2. Her original recipe called for 2 3/4 lbs of oranges to get 2 cups, 1 oz juice. I needed an extra orange, two tangerines, and two lemons to get to the necessary amount.
  3. She also takes the orange seeds, puts them in a cheesecloth bag, and includes that during the boil for flavor. I didn’t have cheesecloth bags, so as a substitute I put the seeds neatly into the compost pile.
  4. her recipe called for two whole oranges, thinly sliced and candied to be added. Instead, I added zest from some of the oranges, and used zest from the remaining fruits in a jar with some good vodka or rum. After soaking for two weeks, I’ll use this mixture as orange flavoring or as the starter for Triple Sec.