Archive for marmalade

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…

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

It all started with a kumquat…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 28, 2010 by massapeel

inspiration

I need to take a break from the Fancy Food Faves…  this blog is totally all about food, and I have more stuff to share regarding the Fancy Food Show, however, that was not the purpose of starting this blog.  And by now, people may be wondering when I am going to get to that point…  So, without further ado, allow me to introduce myself…

I am a upper-30ish attorney (former corporate civil defense litigator, turned general counsel & compliance officer specializing in medical law) who has a passion for food.  I love to eat food.  I love to cook food.  I love to look at food, smell food.  The only thing I don’t do is grow food…  I have a self-diagnosed black thumb!  As my husband jokes, my family will be sitting at a meal, planning our next meal!  And, I don’t like just any food…  I like good food. 

This passion has existed as long as I can remember.  For example, I remember as a kid getting imported marinated artichoke hearts in my Easter basket — seriously.  I remember eating steamed artichokes when my 2 upper front teeth had fallen out, so every leaf that I scraped/ate had a strip of delicious earthy artichoke flesh left behind just waiting for my dad to finish off with some salty drawn butter.   Don’t get me wrong, I also remember the first time I had a Slurpee, and a Twinky, too (that should clue you in to the fact that those processed indulgences were so infrequent that actually DO I remember them).  But the lion’s share of food eaten in my family was freshly prepared, and relatively gourmet.

kumquat tree

So, having established that I love food, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I have always wanted to be involved in the food industry — some way, some how.  I had waitressed in my younger days, so I knew that I did not want to own a sit-down restaurant — way too consuming of nights and weekends (i.e., not conducive to having a family – my other passion).  So, that meant that I needed to make and sell food at retail.  However life takes over, time is consumed by existing obligations, children arrive on the scene, and needless to say, I never did anything to promote my food-related-aspirations.  Enter the kumquat.

It all started with a kumquat.  Really.  This past fall, my mother & partner in crime in this venture, commented to me that she had a potted kumquat tree that had produced fruit that she did not know what to do with.  Now, anyone who has ever had a kumquat knows that they are TART!!!  So, we decided to make marmalade out of it.  My dad is a marmalade fanatic, and this was going to be a Christmas present to him. 

We made the marmalade, and it turned out fabulously (Seville Orange, Apricot and Kumquat Marmalade).  For those

beneath the peel

of you marmalade afficianados out there, this was like true British marmalade in that it has a bite — it is bitter as well as sweet all rolled into one sticky yummy concoction.  And it was so seemingly simple, that we decided to make jam every week and eventually man a booth at the Charlottesville Farmer’s Market. 

The name:  “Mass A’Peel – jams with a twist”…  we decided that our schtick was the total embrace of citrus peel.  In other words, each of our products must have some citrus peel in it…  need not be a full out marmalade, per se, but they must have at a minimum some citrus zest.  Hence the name.  (by the way, I like puns!)

So, this blog will chronicle my mother’s and my adventures in making jam (and other food products) and in becoming entrepreneurs in the gourmet food industry, interspersed with general musings on food.  So, buckle up and enjoy this stream of consciousness culinary ride!