One of my favorite canning recipes, Meyer lemon marmalade is almost fool-proof, even if you are new to preserving. It is slightly unusual, looks beautiful in a jar and tastes delicious– this morning for breakfast I had a whole wheat English muffin with goat cheese and Meyer lemon marmalade and it was a good way to start the day. Meyer lemons are native to China and thought to be a cross between a “regular” lemon and a mandarin; they are slightly orange-tinted, more round than oblong and much sweeter than a lemon. They are fairly easy to find in grocery stores at this time of the year; last weekend in Seattle, they were at both Trader Joe’s (1 lb. bags) and Ballard Market (6 count bags). Marmalade made from them has a hint of the bitterness you expect from a traditional orange marmalade with a bright, lemony touch and a bit of a medicinal flavor (like the honey & lemon my Nimmie used to give me for a sore throat) that I just love. I am serious about how easy this recipe is to make and it is a great gift to give. The most challenging part of the process is the water bath canning; if you’re nervous about that, find a pretty container and give it to local friends, reminding your recipients to keep it refrigerated. It should keep in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks, at least. If you can it, you will be able to ship it; jars will keep, unopened, for up to a year.
Meyer Lemon Marmalade (makes 8 half-pints)
- 2 lbs. of Meyer lemons
- 5 c. water
- 5 c. sugar
Wash the Meyer lemons thoroughly, rubbing with a soft cloth or food brush. Remove stem ends and discard. Cut each fruit in half from end to end and remove visible seeds; set seeds to the side in a small bowl. Slice each lemon half thinly, in half-moon shapes, leaving the pulp attached to the rind and removing any seeds found as you go; slice larger end pieces of rind into thinner ribbons. Collect pulp, rind and any escaped juice in a large glass or ceramic (non-reactive) bowl. When all lemons have been cut, add water to the bowl of fruit; put seeds in a piece of cheesecloth, gather the ends with string and submerge in the bowl*. Cover and place in a cool spot at room temperature for 24 hours.
After 24 hours have elapsed, carefully transfer the Meyer lemon mixture to a non-reactive soup pot or Dutch oven large enough to hold it all. Heat to a boil over medium-high heat and then lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes; mixture should reduce slightly. Add sugar, return to a boil and simmer gently, stirring often, for 15 more minutes. At this point your marmalade should look glossy and golden and feel slightly thickened. If you are concerned about its “doneness”, place a glass plate in the freezer for several minutes, until it feels cold to the touch. Spoon a tablespoon of jam onto the cold plate: if it separates into a thin liquid around the edges, keep cooking it, testing it every 10 minutes or so, until thickened. If it stays in the center of the plate without running, your marmalade is ready!
If you are processing it in a water bath, ladle hot marmalade into sterilized jars, affix new lids and clean rings and boil for 10 minutes; remove from boiling water and cool, untouched, for 24 hours. Check to see that all jars have sealed; refrigerate any that have not. If you don’t want to water bath process your marmalade, ladle it into clean, dry containers and seal. Cool slightly on the counter and then transfer to the refrigerator to store.
*To be honest, the first two times I made this recipe I did not keep the seeds. Keeping the seeds seems to help the thickening process, because seeds contain pectin; if you choose not to collect them, you may expect to cook your marmalade for a few extra minutes.