Meyer Lemon Marmalade

meyer lemon marmalade on vanilla pound cake

This past week has been a crazy tornado of citrus! In the midst of the whirlwind of blood oranges, tangelos, lemons and honey tangerines,  I thought it might be nice to stick to Meyer Lemons and sugar for one batch- no fancy spices, no booze (well, not in the marmalade atleast), no other fruits, no added pectin.

I was able to do my shopping for the marmalade extravaganza at the Allemany Farmers Market in San Francisco, which is my absolute, hands down most favorite shopping experience.  I find so many lovely things there; just this last week I went home with fresh dates, a bundle of lemongrass, chanterelles, fresh baked croissants, a dozen oysters from Point Reyes, and, of course, a rainbow of citrus fruit! (The prices here tend to be really reasonable too, not like Whole Foods or other specialty markets).  With such high quality, fresh fruit, it seemed like a shame to mess with it.

I want to brag about only buying certified organic, but really, a signed statement from the farmer saying that he’s never sprayed a pesticide in his whole life seems more genuine than any certification from the government.

Enough about the farmers market, though, check out these lemons!  In case you haven’t seen then before, Meyer Lemons are smaller and juicier than regular lemons, and their thin skins are much more delicate, making it hard for normal grocery stores to stock them since they don’t ship well.  They are also incredibly aromatic.

This marmalade is simple, with no added pectin.  All you need is Meyer Lemons, sugar, water and time.  This recipe uses a ratio of 1 part prepared lemons to 1 part sugar, so once you’ve read the whole thing through, if you’d like to change the amount, it should work fine.

Ingredients:

  • 36 Meyer Lemons
  • 3 Water
  • 6 Sugar

Because these peels are so thin and delicate, so I used a different method for preparing citrus fruit than I usually do.   First, I sliced off the ends of the fruit. Then I slice each lemon into quarters.

Using a sharp knife, slice out the tough inner piece of pith and remove any seeds.Slice into very thin wedges and put them into a nonreactive pot. Add a little water (I used 3 cups for 36 lemons; change the ratio accordingly).

Cover the pot, set it aside, and wait for a day.

After you’ve waited the full 24 hours, bring the lemons to a simmer and cook for 10-20 minutes or until the peels are soft.  Set aside the cooked lemon mixture in the fridge for an hour to cool and let the pectin develop. (The pectin, which makes the marmalade gel, is inside the lemons. By letting the lemons rest- first for 24 hours, then for 2 hours- the pectin oozes out into the surrounding liquid.)

After the hour has past, use a large measuring cup to see how much lemon mixture you have.  Combine equal parts lemons and sugar in a large, wide-bottomed nonreactive pot. I had six cups of the lemon mixture so I divided it into two separate batches just to make sure it didn’t have to cook forever to reach the gelling point (you lose a lot of flavor this way).

Cook on medium high, stirring fairly often, until the marmalade gels (about 30 minutes). It seems like everyone has a different way of testing for gel point, but I just use my trusty wooden spoon. When the marmalade drips off the spoon in one big sheet instead of single drops, it means it’s done.  (You can also leave a few small plates in the freezer, and when you think the marmalade is close, put a teaspoon of hot marmalade on the cold plate.  Wait 30 seconds, and run your finger through the marmalade. If you see little wrinkles on the surface of the marmalade, it means it’s set.) Ladle the hot marmalade into hot, clean jars. Wipe the rims of the jars clean and screw on the lids.  Process half-pint jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes to get a good seal.

RECIPE IDEAS:

This classic marmalade is great on english muffins with lots of butter, or as frosting on pound cake. It would also make a fantastic marinade for grilled chicken or shrimp, and it will work well in Spanish, Moroccan, or Middle-Eastern dishes.

As a bonus project, you can germinate some seeds and try to grow your own Meyer Lemon tree…

Just pull out some whole seeds, fold them in a damp paper towel, and put them in a ziploc bag. I blow some air into the ziploc bag so it’s like a little greenhouse.  Theoretically they will sprout in 7-14 days, and then you can plant them.  These little seeds probably won’t bear fruit for years and years, but they’re pretty plants and fun to grow.   Good luck! 

Orange Jam with Rum and Elderflower

I know everybody’s making marmalade right now, but I was feeling lazy and didn’t feel like doing all that knife work.   Plus, this orange jam is completely different than any marmalade; it’s sweet, not tart, and the rum rounds out the orange flavor and adds a lot of depth.  One small note about ingredients though- normally I only use fresh local fruit, but I have this elderflower syrup in my fridge that is really amazing, and I absolutely had to add it in.

So, yeah, it’s from IKEA.

The thing is, it’s really good in cocktails.  So, you know, everyone who likes sparkling vodka drinks with elderflower in them should just buy some anyway.  If you don’t feel like it though, agave would be a good substitute. It’s got a similar sweetness, viscosity, and brightness of flavor.  (Hopefully, I can make my own sometime, if I can find some elderflower…)

Ingredients:

  • 4 c. fresh squeezed orange juice (about 14 oranges)
  • 1/2 c. fresh squeezed meyer lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1/2 c. elderflower syrup (or 1/3 c. agave nectar)
  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • 2 tbs. maple syrup
  • 3 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 tsp. Pomona’s calcium water
  • 4 tsp. Pomona’s powdered pectin, whisked together with 1/2 c. sugar
  1. Bring boiling water canner to a boil.  Put jars on a cookie sheet in the oven on 120 degrees so they are warm when you are working with them. Put jar lids and rims in a small boil, and pour boiling water from the canner over them.
  2. Juice enough oranges to make 4 cups of  juice and enough lemons to make 1/2 c. of juice.  Put juice into a large, nonreactive pot, and add in calcium water, rum, maple syrup, and elderflower syrup. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes (just to bring the flavors together and make sure there are no hidden tough citrus bits).
  3. Add in 3 1/2 sugar, bring to a full rolling boil. Cook for one minute, then add in the pectin powder/sugar mixture. Cook at a full rolling boil for 1 1/2 minutes.
  4. Ladle hot jam into hot jars. Wipe the jars rims completely clean, and screw on lids. Process in the boiling water canner for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Recipe Ideas:

The mellow flavor of this jam makes me want to use it in salad dressings and cocktails (not necessarily alcoholic). Just take a few tablespoons of jam, put them in a saucepan over very low heat, and simmer until it is completely liquid.

For salad dressing, combine with whatever vinegar you like and mix well. I think this would be good on a summery fruit salad, with peaches and goat cheese, and some champagne vinegar.

For drinks, fill your glass with ice and whatever mixers you’d like (such as seltzer water or club soda), add in alcohol if it’s that kind of day, and then stir in a tbs. of jam to add flavor.

Orange Pecan Tea Bread

I’m in upstate New York right now, visiting my parents for the first time in a great while.  If I ever decide to become a 400 lb. woman I will come here to do the dirty work…  My dad is a loves to cook and my mom is a fantastic baker. Even though we’re supposed to be in the New Years Resolution phase of the holiday season, the shelves are still stacked with cookies, chocolates, marzipan, and other delicious treats. Given this situation, and the fact that now she’s wandering around the house talking about making tiramisu this evening, I either need to put on my sneakers and go for a run or maybe just buy some bigger pants.

Today I had warm Orange Pecan Tea Bread waiting for me when I woke up. It’s an adaptation of a recipe from Cooking Light, and a great way to use up some marmalade. My mom used the seville orange marmalade I made last winter, but you could use any type you have on hand.  She didn’t bother with the glaze (see step 4 below), it was delicious without it.  The citrus and buttermilk in this recipe will brighten up any winter day, no matter how snowy.

I am a terrible baker, unlike my mother. I can’t be bothered with things like recipes and measuring. I don’t even own a tablespoon (I may have once, but I lost it).   The concept of preheating an oven is foreign to me, it’s either “hot” or “off.” Lasagna is ready when it’s bubbly and the cheese has nice golden brown spots, not when it’s been in the oven at 350 for an hour and fifteen minutes (this is a guess, I really am not sure how long I cook lasagna for).  I often get angry at recipes for trying to tell me what to do. The nerve of these people…

If, unlike me, you can follow instructions, here’s  the original recipe from Cooking Light (December 2009 issue):

Orange-Pecan Tea Bread

  • 7.9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 c.)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. chopped pecans, toasted
  • 3 tbs. 1% low-fat milk
  • 3 tbs. canola oil
  • 3 tbs. orange marmalade
  • 2 tsp. grated orange rind
  • 2 large eggs
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs. fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chopped pecans, toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in center of mixture. Combine granulated sugar and next 7 ingredients (through eggs), stirring with a whisk; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
  3. Spoon batter into an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. Combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring until smooth.  Drizzle glaze over bread, and sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp. pecans.  Yield: 14 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Calories: 164; Fat: 5.4 g; Protein: 3g Carb: 26.6g; Fiber: 0.6g; Chol: 26 mg; Iron: 1 mg; Sodium: 136 mg; Calc: 46 mg.

Pomelo Marmalade With Rosewater and Cardamom

Welcome to my shiny new blog! I hope that you keep reading and maybe try out a few of the recipes and projects that will be appearing here. Check back often- 2011 should be a pretty action packed year. Anyway, enough with the introductions, time to make some marmalade!

So, Reader, since we’re just getting to know each other, a few basics first-  If you want your jam to be really, really amazing the key is to get your hands on the highest quality, freshest fruit at the peak of the season.   Avoid grocery stores like the plague. Fruit should come from your own garden, your neighbor’s tree, a farmer that you know, or a local farmers market.  While buying local and organic is certainly very trendy right now, the reason to seek out this produce is really flavor.  Ethically, it is important to support small farms, cut down on your carbon footprint, etc., but the fact of the matter is that this fruit is just going to taste infinitely better.  If you were to do a blind taste test, the local, in season produce will win every time.  You’ll really know it’s time to make marmalade when you’re at the farmers market and you can actually smell the oranges and grapefruit before you can see them.

Even though I live in California, it’s the dead of winter right now- pouring rain, freezing cold, dark at 4:30 pm.  I am dying to get on a plane and go somewhere exotic, where I will need a passport, sunblock, and a little book to translate common phrases like “this is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen” and “why yes, freshly caught lobster sounds lovely,” or “a cocktail would be wonderful, thank you.” This marmalade is a little jar of happy intentions and new year’s resolutions to travel a little bit more and work in the garden a little bit less.  Oh, and it’s totally delicious,  floral, citrusy and exotic.

Rosewater, green cardamom pods, and saffron add extra dimension.

How to Prepare Fruit For Marmalade

Of course you must start with sharp knives:

This can get kind of tedious here. You might want to drink a beer or something  to make it more fun. Take your time and do a good job though, and you’ll be happy about it later when your friends are praising your excellent marmalade-making skills.

We want only the colored, outer part of the rind.

Stack the pieces of the rind on top of each other and slice through them to make julienned strips.

Repeat with all the fruit. (Dream of tropical vacations!)

Cut off the ends and the white part of the fruit.  Use your knife to separate the fruit from the membrane.

Your prepared fruit should look something like this:

Chop the wedges into small pieces. Put them into your pot.

Pomelo Marmalade with Cardamom and Rosewater

Ingredients:

  • 1 large pomelo
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 meyer lemons
  • 1 tsp. rosewater
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/8 tsp. saffron (use either Spanish or Mexican depending on your budget)
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 5 c. sugar
  • 3 tsp. Pomona’s calcium water
  • 4 1/2 tsp. Pomona’s pectin powder
  1. Fill your canner with water and bring it to a boil. Wash jars and lids. Put jars on a cookie sheet in the oven at 150 degrees until you are ready to fill them.* Put the lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water from the canner.
  2. Wash fruit thoroughly.
  3. Make calcium water (see instructions inside Pomona’s box). Measure 4 1/2 c. of sugar and set aside in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the other 1/2 c. sugar with the pectin powder and whisk well, making sure to avoid any clumps of pectin powder. Set aside.
  4. Using a small sharp knife or veggie peeler, remove outermost layer of the rind from the fruit, avoiding the white as much as possible.
  5. Working in batches, make small stacks of the colored rind and julienne into thin strips.
  6. To prepare the fruit for cooking, cut off the white rind, exposing the fruit inside.  Using a sharp paring knife, cut in between the membranes and each section of fruit, and lift out each wedge. Chop the prepared wedges, and set aside. (See illustrations below, in “How to prepare fruit for marmalade”
  7. Squeeze 1 c. fresh orange juice.
  8. In a large, nonreactive pot, combine the prepared fruit and rinds, 2 c. water, 1c. orange juice, 6 green cardamom pods, 2 tbs. rosewater, and 3 tsp. calcium water. Cover, and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until rinds are soft (about 30 minutes).
  9. Turn heat to medium high and stir in 4 1/2 c. sugar. Bring to a boil, and then stir in the pectin-sugar mixture. Bring to a full, rolling boil and cook for 1-2 minutes. (Marmalade will reach sheet stage)
  10. Ladle into hot jars leaving 1/8 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean and screw on lids. Process for 5 minutes.

yield: about 8 half pint jars.

*It is not really necessary to sterilize your jars in the oven, since they will be processed later. I’ve had jars crack in the canner when they weren’t hot though, so now I always do it. Hot jam, hot jars, hot water seems like the way to go.

Recipe Ideas

  • Heat 1/2 c. marmalade with a few teaspoons of butter and a little chicken broth to make a sauce for sauteed chicken breasts, top with slivered almonds.
  • Mix with couscous (add the marmalade to the cooking broth). Garnish with chopped cilantro and toasted pine nuts.
  • Marinade for grilled lamb skewers (whisk together equal parts marmalade and olive oil, add a dash of mustard or vinegar for more acid). Serve with olives and pita bread.