January 2, 2010
When we moved into our house, there was a beautiful Meyer Lemon tree set in this great nook between our bedroom and the kitchen. The tree was thick with green leaves but was not getting enough light to produce plentiful lemons. Besides, that nook looked like just the place for a hot tub. The tree had to go, but we were not prepared just to chip it up for the compost bin. Instead, we decided to pull it up and transplant it, in our friends' yard. The process was laughable, involving four adults, lots of burlap, and a horse trailer. By the time we got the poor tree into the ground at its new home, the adults were down about a pint of blood each and the tree was clinging to life and very little root soil. I gave it a five percent chance for survival.
Needless to say, the plucky citrus did more than survive; in the years since its traumatic move, it has thrived, filling a corner of Amy and Doug's yard with green and producing baskets of lemons. We just got another delivery juicy lemons and the goal was to make all things lemony for as long as we could. One choice we had to make was to jar up some marmalade.
Here is how I did it the second time. I have to admit the first go around was more fun because I had great friends helping, but I think the second batch was better for being a lot sweeter.
4 cups sliced Meyer lemons
6 cups water
7 1/2 cups sugar
Start by preparing your lemons. Slice each in half, from end to end. Use a sharp knife to cut out the core. Run your fingers along the missing core to remove all seeds. Save the cores and seeds in a double-thick piece of cheese cloth. You will be cooking that satchel of core and seeds with your marmalade to provide pectin which you need to firm up your delicious brew. Take each lemon half and slice it into half rounds. The thickness of your slices are a matter of taste. How big do you like your peels to be in the marmalade? I like to keep my slices irregular so that I get all sorts of peels in my marmalade. Take all your lemon slices, your satchel of pits and cores, and put them in a glass or ceramic bowl. Add the water, cover with parchment paper and put in the refrigerator overnight.
Next day, take out your yummy concoction and pour it into your jamming pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook on high heat until your sliced peels get soft, about 20 minutes. Take out the satchel and set it aside to cool. Before returning the mixture to a boil, you are going to want to squeeze out as much of the pectin as you can from the satchel. Then discard it to the compost. Now, add your sugar. When I made my second batch, I started with six cups of sugar and kept adding half cup portions until I reached the flavor I wanted, at 7 1/2 cups. The marmalade is sweet, but there is still plenty of lemony tang. I think the marmalade now sits at a perfect equilibrium, but I am guessing these are subjective matters. Once all the sugar is in, return the mixture to a boil and cook at high heat until you bring the marmalade to a temperature of 221 degrees, to insure a good set. This last part took me about 10 minutes.
While your marmalade is going through its final boil, prepare your half-pint jars to receive the golden gift. I used the oven this time, cooking my jars at 250 degrees for 10 minutes, and washing the lids with hot soapy water.
When the marmalade reaches 221 degrees, transfer it immediately into jars and seal. I got a bit more than 8 half-pint jars. Fantastic and beautiful. They make excellent gifts for the New Year.
We started 2010 eating the marmalade with homemade biscuits.