blood orange sugar magik (no chili peppers in this one!)

Posted in Uncategorized on May 24, 2010 by massapeel
well…  it has been a while since I have had an opportunity to post to the blog.  between work, family, and actual production of the marmalade, the blog has taken back seat.

First of all, thanks to everyone who has stopped by the Mass A’Peel booth to taste, visit, purchase, provide feedback, etc… at the Charlottesville City Market and the Pen Park Farmer’s Market.  You are what this venture is all about!  And, frankly, you are what makes it so much fun!  I LOVE having someone approach the tasting table only to wrinkle his/her nose and proclaim “oh, I don’t like marmalade,” and then within minutes of a taste,  purchase a jar!  I love shattering preconceieved notions!

I also love creating new and fabulous concoctions.  As a tribute to a dear friend of mine who is also a self-proclaimed foodie with a passion for Campari, I decided to create a marmalade entitled “Blood Orange Sugar Magik” comprised of blood oranges and Campari.

To start.  The blood orange.  The blood orange is a variation of the sweet orange which has darker coloration in the rind and flesh because of anthocyanins – pigmentation commonly found in nature, but more often in flowers and non-citrus fruits, and loaded with antioxidants.  The degree of coloration is dependent on light, temperature and fruit variety. 

These beauties pictured above were used for our initial batch of Blood Orange Sugar Magik.  What I naively took to be merely “blood oranges” are more precisely blood oranges of the Sanguinello variety.  Who knew that there were multiple varieties of blood oranges?  Not I.  Well, now we all know that there are approximately a dozen varietals of blood oranges, however three are most common – The Sanguinello (pictured above) being among those three – and the Tarroco and the Moro being the other two.  The Sanguinello blood orange is a Spanish varietal which was discovered in the late ’20s and has a deep red flesh, and tinged peel.  It was less sweet than a traditional sweet orange, but by no means bitter.  And it produced an intense burgundy marmalade, which really is no surprise, given that its name derives from the Latin word for blood:  “sanguis.”

Flash forward several months…  when I make marmalade, sometimes I have to take what I can get when it comes to citrus.  So, when I found blood oranges, I bought them, thinking that they were going to be equivalent to the Sanguinellos that I had in the past, despite the name Tarroco blood orange on the label.  Well, I am sure that you can guess that despite being the second of the most popular blood orange varieties, the Tarroco is very different from the

Blood Orange Sugar Magik marmalade made with Sanguinello blood oranges

Sanguinello!  For starters, it is from Italy, and is in fact one fo the most popular oranges in Italy, thought to have derived from a mutation of the Sanguinello, while being the sweetest and most flavorful of the three most popular blood orange varieties.  It is also sweet, juicy, seedless and has the highest Vitamin C content of any other orange variety in the world, adding to its appeal.  And surprising to me was the fact that it is not nearly as red as the Sanguinello or Moro blood oranges. 

SO, Mass A’Peel’s Blood Orange Sugar Magik looks and tastes drastically different when made with different varieties of blood oranges!

Now – the Campari.  What exactly is Campari?  It is an Italian aperitif (an alcoholic beverage served to stimulate the appetite before a meal) which was created by Gaspare Campari in Novaro, Italy in 1860.  He called his concoction Rosa Campari, and it was an infusion of herbs, aromatic plants and fruits, mixed with alcohol and water.  There are rumored to be anywhere from 20-60 ingredients in Campari, whose recipe is a tightly held secret to this day.  (http://www.campari.com/)
 
Over the years, Campari truly spearheaded the trend to advertise alcohol.  It has been featured on hundreds of advertising posters, and has even been captured in a Capiello poster (Leonetto Capiello was a prolific creator of now-vintage advertising posters).   In any event, Campari is the ingredient that gives the bitterness to Mass A’Peel’s Blood Orange Sugar Magik.

vintage Capiello Campari advertising poster

 

Mass A’Peel Logo Unveiled

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2010 by massapeel

OK.  So this is a tad anti-climactic an “unveiling,” given that the logo is actively being used on our products, but I have not officially revealed the Mass A’Peel logo!?!

Thanks to the amazing creative minds and collaborative efforts of Darcey Ohlin and Amanda Hughes at Watermark Design, Mass A’Peel has the best logo & labels ever!  If you want to see more of their work, check out their website:  www.designbywatermark.com (they also designed my “real” job’s corporate website:  www.medicbilling.com)

So, without further ado…  Drumroll, please….this is the logo for all products containing lime:

lemon or Meyer lemon:

orange, kumquat, tangerine, clementine, blood orange:

pink grapefruit:

First Two Weeks At the Market

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2010 by massapeel

Well…  after an initial bout of nerves, my mom and I pulled it together and successfully designed, assembled and manned our very first ever farmers’ market booth!  What were we nervous about?  Well, for one, whether anyone would like our marmalades!  Taste is such a subjective thing, you know!  Sure, we like the marmalades, but what will the public think?  Will it sell?

Needless to say, such fears were wholly unwarranted.  The response to Mass A’Peel jams (ok – technically they are marmalades because they all have some form of citrus peel in them, but we like the nickname ‘jam with a twist’) has been phenomenal!  People are loving the marmalades – even self-proclaimed non-marmalade eaters!

Each week at the market, the Mass A’Peel booth will contain a variety of marmalades, fresh squeezed lemon and/or limeade, and some munchie that incorporates marmalade – a way to showcase the use of marmalades beyond the standard, albeit delicious, toast or scone!  We will post those recipes here for people to replicate.


So, what marmalades are we selling?  Currently we have the following (but as seasons progress, new flavors will be developed and sold..  look for strawberry in the coming weeks):

  • I Found My Thrill (blueberry & lemon)
  • The Girl From Ipeelema (raspberry, pear, lime & mint)
  • Lemon Tree, Very Pretty (Meyer lemon, ginger & mint)
  • Bittersweet Symphony (Seville oranges, apricot & kumquat)
  • Grapefruit Juicy Fruit (pink grapefruit, ginger & mint)
  • Hey Mr. Tangerine Man (tangerine, lime & pineapple)
  • Pinea’peel Express (pineapple, lemon, rosemary & vanilla bean)
  • Blood Orange Sugar Magik (blood orange & Campari)
  • I Say A Little Pear For You (pear, ginger & lime)

Our special treats have been amazingly delicious.  Our first week, we made a citrus cheesecake with a lemon shortbread crust and topped with our Hey Mr. Tangerine Man marmalade.  It was amazing, and the perfect dessert to end an Easter feast!

Last week we featured a shortbread crumble bar layered with plum tangerine marmalade.  Equally delicious – you cannot go wrong with shortbread and marmalade, 2 of the finest exports from Britain!

Both recipes can be found in the Recipe pages of this blog (accessible from the home page, at the right side of the screen).  If any customers come up with great uses for marmalade, we’d love to hear them!

In any event, thanks to all of our family members and friends who have been so amazingly supportive of this venture, and thanks to our new Mass A’Peel friends!  See you all Saturday at the market!

Back at the Market Again!!!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 8, 2010 by massapeel

Just heard the good news that we’ll be at the Charlottesville City Market this Saturday, April 10th!  We had such a blast last weekend (post to follow with details!), and are tremendously excited to do it again!   Despite the 5am wake up… 

 
 
 

gorgeous sunrise over the market

This week, we are going to be in a different location – across from the market masnager’s table & the musicians – so should be a jammin’-good-time  (I am so sorry – I could not resist).

Hope to see you there for some awesome marmalades, fresh squeezed lemon-limeade, and perhaps other jam-based goodies!  And remember, if you’ve bought and enjoyed our marmalades, then bring your jar back for a $.25 credit per jar on your next purchase!   Just doin’ our part to save resources!

Here A Yu, There A Zu, Everywhere a Yuzu (clearly the author lives with toddlers!)

Posted in Fancy Food Show, marmalades with tags , on March 2, 2010 by massapeel

Have you ever experienced this phenomenon:  you’ve never heard of something, and then once you learn of it, you see it everywhere?  For example (and I don’t think that I am unique in this regard), pre-law school, I floated through life relatively peacefully and oblivious to the torts and other legal issues lurking around every corner.  Fast forward to present-day:  I cannot even invite the neighborhood children to delight in the amazing homemade luge run that my husband and friends created down our 1-acre wooded hill of a back yard without joking that to their parents that they are going to have to sign a consent form and release absolving us from any liability in the event of an accident!  Seriously – that luge  is precisely what attorneys would label an “attractive nuisance” (remember that Cardozo opinion?)

OK, so perhaps my and my fellow attorneys’ legal minds which see lawsuits in all daily interactions is a tad extreme.  So, indulge me in a more pedestrian example:  Yuzu.  Although, I can’t in good conscience write yuzu and pedestrian in the same sentence with a straight face!

basket of yuzu fruit

Seriously, though… focusing on the topic du jour…  yuzu is commonly referred to as the Japanese grapefruit.  It slightly resembles a small wrinkly grapefruit in appearance.  According to descriptions that I’ve found on the internet, the yuzu is tart – similar to the grapefruit – but with mandarin orange overtones.  Clearly I have not had the privilege of eating this fruit.  But, I shan’t feel deprived…  apparently, the yuzu is rarely eaten as a straight fruit.  Rather, it’s zest and juice are used in Japanese cooking, similar to the way lemons are used here in the States.  It is a key ingredient of ponzu – the citrus-based soy sauce that I have cooked with on many occasions, but about which I never took the time to educate myself.  (c’mon Larissa — even Emeril has a yuzu ponzu recipe!!!  http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/aspen-2007-yuzu-ponzu).  It is even used as an essence in bath products.  Who knew?  I have had a bottle of Archipelago Botanicals Yuzu Body Wash (http://www.archipelago-usa.com/) sitting in my spare shower for 2 years – did I ever notice the name?  think to look up yuzu?  nope. 

Yakami Orchard's Yuzu Marmalade

So, what was it that got me to wake up and take note of the yuzu fruit?  Yuzu marmalade at the Fancy Food Show.  It was fabulous.  Seriously.  It was perhaps the one marmalade/jam product that I tasted at the show that I thought was as good as – if not, dare I say, better than – Mass A’Peel’s products.  Let’s just say that they are different.  There is absolutely no way that Mass A’Peel will ever be able to produce yuzu marmalade, so kudos to Yakami Orchards of Japan (and WA imports of Illinois for making this delicacy available to the western world).  I am not the only one enamored of this marmalade…  Just a small sampling of those singing the praises of the yuzu are the New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/25/dining/25yuzu.html?_r=2&ref=dining, and Food & Wine:  http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/global-pantry.

I did have an “aha” moment at the Fancy Food Show after tasting this yuzu marmalade…  Among the hundreds of booths hawking their culinary wares, there were a mere dozen or so that I felt were truly amazing and unique.  Unbeknownst to me, there was a display of all those items that had won the “gold medals” in the Summer Fancy Food Show.  Upon looking at those winners, I noticed that many of them were my favorites too!  Soooo….  the fact that I like Mass A’Peel  products is hopefully not merely a function of the fact that I made them, but a sign that they are in fact good.  Perhaps even gold-medal worthy!?!  One can certainly dream…

Oh the weather outside is frightful…

Posted in Fancy Food Show with tags on February 25, 2010 by massapeel

Soooo….  I have been neglectful of this blog.  I really did write some entries in the intervening weeks, I just never finished them, attached pictures, or posted.  And then there was the issue of my computer – more specifically Internet Explorer – mysteriously dying on me ($187 later:  either a virus or a Microsoft update that upset the balance and alignment of all systems…  if the latter, then I believe a lawsuit is in order!)  In any event, my sincere apologies for the delay, and here is the post that I wrote several weeks ago:

Well.  Given that here in Charlottesville, we are in the midst of Snowmegeddon, Snowpocalypse, Snowverkill, or whatever you want to call it, I have not been able to get to my jam-kitchen to do some cookin’.  Lots else has been accomplished – shoveling, the creation of a pretty incredible luge/skeleton run down the mountain and through the trees of our backyard, cleaning, more shoveling, carting kids to the doctor for ear infections, and, alas, more shoveling. 

So, what does one do when snowbound?  Other than shovel snow?  Drink some good wine!!!  And what if you don’t drink wine (or other alcoholic beverages, for that matter)???  Well, allow me to introduce you to a couple of interesting non-alcoholic options that I tasted during my recent trip to the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco.

  1. Metromint Waters.

    Metromint waters

  2. Vignette Sodas.

Vignette sodas

First, Metromint (http://www.metromint.com/).  In retrospect, this seems to be an obvious beverage, but one which I have never seen, let alone tasted:  mint flavored waters.  Now, the market is inundated (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun!) with flavored waters, but the majority of them are syrupy-sweet-fruit-flavored-water – if one can even call them water.  I am a traditionalist.  Give me plain water, or seltzer with essence of fruit – no sugar necessary.  So, I was intrigued by this minted water! 

refrigerator of minty goodness

According to the Metromint website, they use the pure essence of mint grown in Washington State’s Yakima Valley which, once extracted, is added to purified water, resulting in a truly refreshing beverage.  Not sweet at all, just purely refreshing and quenching…  I cannot imagine anything better on a hot summer’s day (although perhaps not the drink of choice in the Great Blizzard of 2010… unless using to make a minted hot cocoa).  

Metromint can be enjoyed in the following flavors: spearmint, peppermint, lemonmint, orangemint, chocolatemint and cherrymint.  True to my traditionalist form, I stuck to the basics – peppermint.  My mother, ever the chocolate fan, dared to try the chocolate mint.  Both were great.  Both were refreshing, clean and crisp.  Neither left a syrupy coating in our mouths, just minty delicious water.

On to Vignette (http://www.winecountrysoda.com).  This is a carbonated non-alcoholic beverage that is made from the juice of California varietal wine grapes and bottled like a soda.  Available flavors are chardonnay, pinot noir and rose, all of which are all-natural, caffeine free, contain 50% varietal juices, contain no added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, no added colors or preservatives.  Just 100% delicious.

When I was pregnant with my kids, I didn’t drink alcohol – not only because I didn’t want to affect my yet unborn kids

move over Fre - here's a better non-alcoholic "wine" drink

(although, truth be told, this was only a real concern in my first trimester – a belief supported by many OBs today, that a glass of wine here and there in moderation is fine) – but also because I frankly did not like the taste!  So, my mocktail of choice became fruit juices mixed in equal parts with seltzer…  basically a grown up soda…  think Fizzy Izzy…  Vignette Wine Country Sodas provide just the right mix of flavor to fizz, and is packaged in a classy, mature manner….  Grape Nehi for the adult palate.

it’s a lemon… it’s a tangerine… it’s a meyer lemon!!!

Posted in marmalades with tags , , , , , , on February 7, 2010 by massapeel

Buckle up folks, here goes my first attempt at a post about my actual purpose:  jam-making.  I do so love rambling on about food finds, but the objective of the blog was to document my efforts at making jam and taking it to market.  So, onward! 

juicy Meyer lemons

Wednesday evening saw me in the throes of a new kind of jam session  (technically marmalade, but that just doesn’t sound right – “marmalade session”)!  We’ve been at this now for several months, but seeing as this was to be my first jam-making-related post, I decided to try a new concoction from scratch:  lemon marmalade.  However, when I went to stock up on ingredients, I found not only lemons, but Meyer lemons….  hmmmm…..  I was not exactly sure what a Meyer lemon was, but something told me that it was a shi-shi version of the standard lemon, which fit the profile of Mass A’Peel perfectly.  Thus, I opted for the Meyer lemon! 

What IS a Meyer lemon, you ask?  It is generally thought to be an asian citrus fruit that is essentially a marriage of a lemon and a tangerine:  you have the tart lemon flavor accented by the fresh, sweet, aromatic zest reminiscent of a tangerine.  In appearance, the Meyer lemon looks much more like an orange than a lemon — but boy what a shock to the uninitiated palate!!!  while looking and smelling more orange/tangerine-like, the taste is definitively that of a lemon.  As my husband would say, it’ll make your pucker schmucker! 

the uncut version

The Meyer lemon was named after a USDA “agricultural explorer” (his mission was to collect samples of “new” plant species for the US government) named Frank Meyer, who brought what is now known as the Meyer lemon plant back to the United States from China in 1908.  While present in the US for over 100 years now, the Meyer lemon had a rocky start…  The Meyer lemon varietal that was initially introduced to the US was an asymptomatic carrier of a virus that kills or renders all types of citrus trees useless for fruit production.  In order to preserve the citrus industry as a whole, Meyer lemon trees were destroyed.  It was not until the 1970s that a new strain of the Meyer lemon tree was approved for use, thereby essentially re-introducing the Meyer lemon tree to the general population.  Not long thereafter, the Meyer lemon obtained more wide-spread recognition with the rise of “celebrity chefs” and their documented use of the fruit. 

ready to can

Back to the jam-session…  I cut, sliced and seeded, and yes, the Meyer lemons are amazingly fresh and fragrant!  I added some yummy side-notes — ginger, mint and lemongrass — and began to cook.  Now, for those of you who have never made jam, jelly, preserves, conserves, marmalade, etc…  there is a definite science to the process!!!  How hot to get the concoction?  How long to cook?  When to add sugar?  To pectin or not to pectin?  And if using, when?  I am a good cook, who is still learning all of this science (come on — this should come as no surprise!!!  I went to a liberal-arts college followed by law school…  not a lot of math or science going on there!).  And, to top it off, I forgot my thermometer.  I guesstimated on the times, was nervous that I was cooking the marmalade too hot, too long (this can cause the marmalade to become grainy and/or too thick – more like a paste), feared that I added too little water, etc…  but in the end, the result was amazing!  Perfect.  I am headed out to buy more Meyer lemons.  

Now, if I could only come up with a name for it…  (“Lemon Tree Very Pretty” or “Oh I Wish I Were A Meyer Lemon Marmalade“) — the names of my marmalades are all based on songs…  puns, plays on words, etc…  and one may not get the flavor just from the name, but will need to read the subtext, a la Ben & Jerry’s.  I mean, who would EVER know that Chubby Hubby is malt-flavored ice cream with peanut butter swirl and chocolate covered pretzels???  So, if anyone in the Blogosphere has a campy, creative Meyer lemon name, let’s hear it! 

finished product