December is here, but still no snow and no cold cold winter in northern Italy! Weather is divided in rainy days and cold sunny days! That's it, even if the season is changing in a very strange way; but fortunately we still have seasonal ingredients, like oranges and carrots. While I was out buying them, I took some pictures of my new neighborhood to show you how it is here.
Well, carrot marmalade is very popular in Iran, sometimes we add spices and some people like to add pistachios or almonds, or both, to it for beauty and better taste!
I know how strange it may sound for some of you! The veggie marmalade!!? But actually we're not the only ones to use them. Italians have two things which are very similar to it; the first one called"La mostarda" which is a condiment made of candied fruit or vegetable in a mustard flavored syrup. Originally is from northern Italy and it served with bollito misto. The second one is the normal marmalade called in Italian "La marmellata" made by fruit or vegetable, it does not contain any mustard flavored syrup and in central Italy is very popular as an "Antipasto" served with different kind of cheese. Some Italian popular vegetable marmalades are red onion & bell pepper marmalade.
The Iranian carrot marmalade in Iran is serve with bread and un-salted butter for breakfast. Sometimes is eaten with Iranian tabrizi cheese which is very similar to Feta cheese and some other times as a dessert with some plain yogurt.
This recipe is magical, with all the oriental aroma of rose, cardamom and orange! It is a perfect Christmas gift too; pour the marmalade in small jars and tag them with lovely notes for friends and family. You can use a jar of marmalade to fill up your home-made tart or mix it with your hot porridges to make a special breakfast. Give it a try, the flavor will blow your mind!
Serves 8-10 People
Ingredients for: 3 x 30 cl - 10 1/8 oz jars = 900 ml of marmalade
- 700 g washed and peeled carrots
- 700 g fine white sugar
- 750 ml water
- Juice of 2 oranges
- zest of 1 orange
- Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
- some cardamom pods
- some dried Iranian rose flowers or 1 teaspoon of rose water
- some chopped almond or pistachio or both
- 1 teaspoon of pectin (optional)
- Start with washing your hands and then the jars, there are 4 ways which you can sterilize the jars: 1.wash them with very hot water and a very clean sponge. 2. use washing machine with very hot water cycle. 3. boil the jars and their lids in water for 15 minutes. 4. wash and place them in oven at 100°C for 10-15 minutes or until dried. In any case, after they're washed, do not touch inside the jars and let them dried naturally on a very clean kitchen towel.
- Wash, peel, dry and grate the carrots. Place them in a heavy bottom pan together with water, sugar, orange juice, lemon/lime juice, pectin (if you like) and finely sliced orange zest.
- Put the pan on a medium-high heat and stir until the sugar is almost dissolved, put the pan on lowest heat, cover and cook for about 1 hour, 1 hour and half.
- Uncover the pan and add the spices by placing the dried rose flowers and cardamom pods in a muslin bag, a tea bag holder or an empty tea bag; in this way the cardamom does not get bitter. Add pistachios and almonds in the pan too.
- Stir occasionally and cook until it's done.
- To taste the marmalade to know if it's done, pour a little bit of boiling marmalade in a plate and tilt the plate, marmalade should flow very smoothly almost like a honey and be a little bit sticky.
- When the marmalade is done, pour the hot marmalade in the clean and dried jars, leave some space on top (don't fill them completely), check all the edges and clean them perfectly with a super clean kitchen towel if needed.
- Close the jars tight and put them upside down immediately for self-pasteurization about 15-20 minutes. Keep the jars in a dry, cool place.
- You can also cook the carrot marmalade un-covered for less that 2 hours, stir occasionally until is done. I used my grand mother's old technique which is about 1 hour covered and 1 hour un-covered. (I don't know if this technique is going to work for all types of marmalade or jams, but it does work for Carrots.)
- If you want to use them in less than a week, it's enough to use a very clean teaspoon or knife every time you use the marmalade. But if you plan to keep them for a longer period, remember that when you open the jars for the first time the lid should always "click"; if it doesn't, there could be some bacterias left in the jar and it might be dangerous.
- So let's clean everything and start making cooking!