When Life Hands You Lemons
Recently, while navigating our new world of physical distancing, a Martin County Fair vendor left a free box of lemons for anyone to enjoy. Hating to see much of those lemons go to waste, and being 4-H, I brought them home. So . . . besides making lemonade what do we do when challenging times hands us lemons?! Make jelly and jam of course! With that attitude of positivity and putting experiential learning of 4-H to task, I began. First idea, to make marmalade – Note: there is a reason why we do not see much lemon marmalade … the seeds! Yikes! Everywhere! After processing a dozen plus lemons, I made the decision to stop and proceed to the cooking process. Canning components ready, jars sanitizing, pots, sugar, cutting boards, juicer and a general mess – Haha – in the making of jelly and jam in my pre-sanitized kitchen.
Finishing what is now to become one jar of lemon jam, I began to juice; now this is going well. (Remaining lemons yielded 6 cups and few seeds to fish out.) Forgoing pectin, I decided to add gelatin to my jam, jar and set aside – listening for that telltale ping of a lid sealing … In the interim, I begin the cooking process of the lemon jelly, adding sugar which seemed to be insufficient; running out, I now have a very tangy jelly that only kids (Warhead Candy Warriors) would love! Actually not bad, but definitely not for the faint of heart! I decide to add some homegrown Sweet Mint to three of the jars – that made a surprising and delicious difference.
Sweet and Sour Success?
After about 4 dozen lemons, I now have one jar of really good Lemon jam, two jars of Lemon jelly, and three jars of Lemon Sweet Mint jelly – yum. I decide to water bath the jellies and jam. Once removed from the water bath, I listened and celebrate each ping! Successful sealing of the jars! Unfortunately, after cooling, I discovered that the five jars of jelly did not gel! What!? Experiential learning – Learning by Doing – reminds us that mistakes are not failures just learning explorations and experiences. To save the day, I am going to re-cook the jellies, adding more gelatin, re-seal and will report back to you . . . worse case scenario, I have five jars of lemony goodness to add to my cooking and baking or I can just make some . . . Lemonade!
In conclusion, making jelly and jam from my bag of lemons was a fun, learning process on a rainy, Shelter-In day. Canning is a great way to preserve for later use the fruits or vegetables from your local market or home garden and 4-H Learn by Doing is fun!
For recipes and instructions from the experts, visit: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_canning_food; to explore canning with your family while safe at home. The connected links will expand your exploration and learning into the process of making nutritious preserved foods, jams and jellies through canning. (I’ll definitely visit page 7-13 “Remaking Soft Jellies”) https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html
Enjoy your 4-H Experiential Explorations while staying Socially Connected! My best to all.