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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Lady Marmalade

Or, "When Life Gives You Lemons, Part III".

Of course, having a large bag of Meyer lemons of various shapes and sizes finally propelled me to look up recipes for lemon marmalade. I got a award-winner from a pal of mine (it's her mom's), and I will probably try that when I get the next bag, but I was looking for something that used sliced-up lemons (in other words, I wouldn't peel them first ... taking advantage of the Meyer thin peel).

I found this recipe in various places on Epicurious.com:

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

1-1/2 lbs MEYER LEMONS (5-6)
4 cups WATER
4 cups SUGAR

Halve lemons crosswise and remove seeds. Tie seeds in a cheesecloth bag. Quarter each lemon half and thinly slice. Combine with bag of seeds and water in a 5-quart non-reactive pot and let mixture stand, covered, at room temperature 24 hours.

Bring lemon mixture to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until reduced to 4 cups, about 45 minutes.

Stir in sugar and boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally and skimming off any foam, until a teaspoon of mixture dropped on a cold plate gels, about 15 minutes.

Ladle hot marmalade into jars, filling to within 1/4" inch of top. Wipe rims with dampened cloth and seal jars with lids.

Put jars in a water-bath canner filled with boiling water, to cover jars by at least 1 inch. Boil jars, covered, 5 minutes and transfer to a rack to cool. Yields approx. 6 half-pint jars. Marmalade will store in a cool, dark place, up to 1 year.

I posted it on rec.food.cooking hoping for some advice from the jam makers; unfortunately the principal one was away with a family health crisis, but I did get one person saying "that doesn't look like enough sugar". This, and recipe-maker's comments that the second stage took a lot closer to an hour than fifteen minutes, turned out to be correct. I ended up adding a cup of sugar (half cup at a time) to the mixture during the final boil, and I did indeed measure the fruit mixture after boiling down. I think next time I might take a leaf from my rfc advisor's book and add some fresh lemon juice at that stage to perk up the flavor a bit, or maybe make lemon-ginger next time and have the ginger counteract the bitter peel flavor somewhat.

But it tastes good. I got four jars and a custard-cup full. I will go and stick my finger in the custard cup for a taste occasionally.

It set up well before gel point (220 F) by my thermometer. I did soak the lemons and seeds for three days, as I cut them up on Saturday and was out late on Sunday and Monday, so didn't make it up till Tuesday. (I was still fishing seeds out of the marmalade. Meyers are very seedy.)

I need to get myself a "real" water-bath canner if I continue to do this, because my big pot isn't tall enough to cover the jars with water, but among the last things I heard before finally falling asleep last night was the satisfying "pop" of the lids making their seal as they cooled.

I love your comments! I have a tree full of Eureka lemons, so I will shred the peel and slice the insides and remove the white. Adding ginger sounds good! That satisfying "pop" is why I still do canning. Do get the water bath canner. The kids working at the grocery store didn't know what I meant when I asked for jar lids and pectin! Are we getting old??
I don't have a canner anymore, but my aunt-by-marriage used to just turn her jars upside-down in a regular pot and process that way. She said there was no need to cover the whole jar as the jam was so hot. She was a country girl who canned all her life, so now I do it and it works! Of course this is not for meats and vegetables. Pop, pop!
The recipe I used to use for this was in an old Sunset Magazine compilation, and called for (more or less, this is from memory) 6 Meyer lemons, 6 cups of water & 6-1/2 cups of sugar. The lemons were to be sliced, seeded & brought to a boil in the water several times (I did this over a period of days, leaving the pan in the refrigerator in between times), to soften the peel. Then you added the sugar, brought it up to a hard boil until it set, & processed it. Worked fine, but here's a faster method. Slice the lemons thinly, save the seeds separately, bang the lemons & seeds in Ziploc bags (labelling so you know how many lemons the bag contains) & freeze -- freezing begins to break down the peel (this works for all citrus & for candied peel too -- freeze first!). When you feel like making marmalade (which can be months later), take out the frozen lemons & put in a large non-reactive pan with as many cups of water as you had lemons (or 3/4 cup per lemon if they were small), add the seeds tied up in cheesecloth (knot a string around it for easy finding), & heat until it boils. Measure & add sugar cup for cup (need not be exact). Boil hard until it sets, fish out the seed packet, pack hot & process. Additions: add half a split vanilla bean or candied ginger to each jar; or add dried lavender (tied in cheesecloth) to the lemon mixture while cooking & remove at end.
As for canners: I use my largest pot with a rack in it -- any kind of rack that fits, just to keep the jars off the pan bottom. Make sure the boiling water covers the jars completely. No need to buy a canner -- in 20-plus years without one, every jar has sealed. But you will be a lot happier if you buy a jar lifter & a jar funnel, which is a wide plastic funnel that fits canning jar necks perfectly (no need to wipe off rims before putting lids on). If you can't get a jar lifter, use a wire coat hanger bent in half to grab the jars & hoick them out (squeeze it around the jar with the corners on either side) -- but the jar lifter's much more efficient. One more tip -- in NYC, bizarrely enough, canning jars/lids are not sold in grocery stores at all, but smaller hardware stores usually carry them (yes, moving here meant major culture shock)!
Ann, why the seeds? I am about to make my first batch. Live in Alaska, you don't know how pleased I am to score a bag of lemons! I think I will freeze the lemons whole, will be easy to slice and I keep a few in the freezer to have "fresh" lemon juice when I want. At 1 to 2 bucks a lemon in the market, we lemon lovers find ways. Love all the help here
I just made this recipe (my first year with my Meyer Lemon tree). Had been looking online for a recipe for lemon marmalade and came across this site and think I'll be a frequent visitor in the future. I enjoy the exchange of ideas--none of my friends REALLY cook (a tragedy of our times I guess)so I rarely have the opportunity to exchange recipes. Has anyone tried adding the lavender or ginger?
I noted from the comments that it might be slightly weak tasting or bitter so modified it based on a recipe I have used for many years for Mandarin Orange Marmalade. It turned out very well, nice lemon flavor, not bitter and set well. Cooking the peel separately with baking soda softens it and removes some of the bitterness and it really doesn't take that much longer.

So here it is:
6 Meyer lemons, 1.5 lbs
4 c water
5.5 c sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda

Peel lemons, slice peel thinly, add 2 c water and 1/4 tsp baking soda and boil 20 min. Do not drain.
Chop reserved lemons, removing and reserving seeds in cheesecloth as above. Combine chopped fruit with boiled peel in nonreactive large pot, add remaining 2 cups water, reserved seeds and let sit overnight.
The next day bring fruit mixture above to a boil and simmer until reduced to 4 cups (about 30 min). Measure, add water to equal 4 cups if necessary. Return to pot, bring to a full rolling boil, remove seeds, add sugar all at once and return to a full boil for exactly 4 minutes, stirring constantly and skimming as needed. Ladle into hot jars and seal.

Hope this recipe is tried and enjoyed by someone else. Finding the information on this site certainly helped me. Next I'm going to try the lemon chutney recipe--still have some lemons left. Maybe even enuf for a batch of lemon curd as well.
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