The next recipe that came up in the book was, “Zucchini Marmalade”. To be totally honest, I was not thrilled about making and taste testing a marmalade. My first experience with it was not what I would call a favorable one. Let me tell you about my first taste of marmalade…
It was in the early 1980s. I was spending some time with my Kunky (uncle) Tom and his wife, Sally Ann. Sally Ann is from England, and totally unlike all the other English people I had met to this point in my life. I imagine she is what an English hippie would have been like; she didn’t shave, wore clothes in wild colors and patterns that did not match, wore chunky jewelry and most annoying thing of all, she thought that she knew everything, when in fact she knew very little. You can imagine how transparent she was if a young girl of 14 could see this. Anyway, it was from Sally Ann that I first experienced orange marmalade. I had thought, as she had just made some of the best Chinese food I had eaten, and taught me how to properly eat with chop sticks, that breakfast couldn’t go so horribly wrong…
I had poured myself a big bowl of Froot Loops, something I rarely got to eat at home, and was digging in, when Sally Ann came to the table with a small plate full of toast and set it on the table and then joined me to eat. She picked up a piece of toast and smeared a large quantity of this orangish gel like substance onto the toast then handed it to me. I took it and looked at it suspiciously, and asked what it was. She tells me it is an English favorite, orange marmalade. My first thought was, is it safe to eat? Should I try it or just try and hide it till I can throw it away? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a great fan of trying new foods, as long as they don’t look or smell gross, and this orange marmalade had me wondering. Sally Ann promised me it was more than safe to eat, that it was in fact delicious. So, being the brave girl I was, I took a small bite. Oh My God!! It was the nastiest thing to touch my tongue in a long time! I was expecting a nice sweet orange flavor, but what I got was such a shock to my system, that I have a hard time actually remembering what it taste like on my tongue. I do remember that it wasn’t sweet, it was almost bitter, and it didn’t seem to have any orange flavor at all. I wanted to spit it out, but my mom taught me better manners than that, so I just swallowed it and took a big drink of my tea.
When my Kunky came in a short while later he saw the mostly untouched toast on the table near my cereal bowl and asked, “First taste of English marmalade?”. I nodded and pulled a face, and he laughed and laughed. It turns out that English orange marmalade is a bit different from the stuff we can get in the stores in the States.
So, needless to say, I was a little unsure about making something as odd sounding as Zucchini Marmalade. After reading over the recipe, I saw that there was a lot of crushed pineapple and sugar in it, so I knew right away it was going to be sweet. I was just not sure what to think about having the zucchini in it. How would it taste? This was my most important question. How would it taste with all that sweetness and then to have thin slices of zucchini added to the mix? I love zucchini, but to have it in a sweet bread spread? This I was not so sure about.
Making the marmalade was easy and straight forward enough. But as usual, I had trouble getting my jar lids to seal properly. I ended up having to give them a second water bath to get them to seal up properly. If you can boil and simmer water, you can make marmalade. It really is that easy. I found it a nice and relaxing activity for my morning.
After Tim got up and had a cup of coffee, I made some toast and told him he was going to be my taste tester on the zucchini marmalade. He said sure, he was game to try it out. He took the piece of marmalade coated toast from me and looked it over. Then he sniffed it, and then bravely took a bite. He chewed it thoughtfully and then swallowed. He licked his lips and declared that it was good! He said that it was sweet and the zucchini gave it a nice little crunchiness. He then turned the toast toward me and told me to give it a taste. I took a bite and was amazed at how awesome it tasted. This was nothing like the English orange marmalade that I had tasted so many years before…this marmalade was good! The only thing about that sample piece of toast was that I had only put a thin layer of the marmalade on. This was a big mistake. With this marmalade, like most things in life, it is never good to be spread too thin.