Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lemon Marmalade

We're heading to Florida in the spring with the kids.  Although we have plans to go to Sea World and otherwise bask in the sun by a pool or beach, I'm really hoping I can convince the family to take a little citrus tour.  In the spirit of those hopes, I picked up a bunch of lemons (ok, they're from CA, not FL), and I've made my first batch ever of lemon marmalade.  Only two ingredients go into this recipe I merged from and The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook:  lemons and sugar.  It's an awesome, if not slightly uppity, gift for a culinary friend, and it's fantastic on toasted anadama bread.  Directions are below.

What you'll need:

a dozen lemons
4 cups of sugar
4 cups of water
6 to 8 half pint mason jars and lids, sterilized

First thing:  Buy your lemons at the market, or pick them if you're lucky enough to have access to a tree.  If bought at the market, whether or not they're organic, they may be coated with some kind of wax used for the purpose of preservation.  You don't want that in your final product, whatever you're using the lemons for, so you'll want to remove the wax.  I boiled a pot of water, poured it over my lemons, scrubbed each one with an unused plastic kitchen scrubby, then rinsed them again with super-hot water.

Now onto the marmalade adventure, and it was an adventure.  First peel your lemons.

I used a small cheap paring knife, as my veggie peeler didn't do the job.  Make sure to cut the peelings into small thin pieces, appropriate for the size you'd want in your marmalade.

Then make sure the white bitter stuff is off of your lemons.  Yes, I used the same paring knife.  Next, cut your lemons cross-wise into 1/4 inch pieces, making sure to remove every seed along the way.  This is a time-consuming process, but don't fret!  The end result is worth it.  Now put the peelings, lemon innards, and 4 cups of water into a covered container, then into your fridge overnight.

Take your container out of the fridge in the morning, stir up the mixture, and bring to a constant simmer over medium heat for about an hour.  Then add the sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring again to a constant simmer for about an hour, checking the temperature with a candy thermometer as it cooks.  Once your temp reaches 215 degrees, make sure to keep an eye on your mixture and stir constantly.  When it reaches 220 degrees, remove your pot from the heat.  Fill sterilized jars, add lids, then boil in a water bath for 10 minutes.

I am an inexperienced marmaladian; however, I was assured by trustworthy marmalade aficionados that my efforts resulted in the right amount of sweet balanced with just the right amount of bitter.  It was a fun and different task for this New Englander, and one I will try again with oranges upon our arrival home from Florida.  Can I bring fresh-picked oranges back with me on a plane?  Next task.


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