My maternal great-grandmother was Nimmie; she lived to be 100, so I was lucky to grow up with her as a fixture in my life. When I was little and not feeling well, she would make a concoction of honey and fresh lemon juice for me to drink to soothe my throat. Curiously, I was sick almost every time I stayed with Nimmie…
This Meyer lemon-honey jelly reminds me of Nimmie’s drink. I developed the recipe, following instructions from Pomona’s Universal pectin, after learning how to cook and juice the lemons from this recipe. Because the lemons are soaked overnight and cooked with peels on and seeds included, the resulting juice has the slightly bitter medicinal tones of my Meyer lemon marmalade. My intention had been to make a jelly with a clear, bright lemon flavor, but to do that, I believe you would have to juice the lemons without cooking and discard all peel. (I plan to experiment; stay tuned.) Regardless of the fact that the result was different from the plan, this is a tasty treat. The honey flavor is intentionally prominent and a nice change from the typical sweetness of sugar. It took a while and several steps to get my two precious jars of jelly, but it was worth the effort; my husband loves the taste, too, so I wonder just how long this batch will last.
Meyer Lemon-Honey Jelly
- 2 lbs. Meyer lemons
- 6 c. water
- 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice, from 3-5 lemons (not Meyer lemons)
- 2/3 c. raw honey, preferably local
- 1 1/2 tsp. Pomona’s Universal pectin
- 2 tsp. calcium water (to activate pectin; sold in the box with Pomona’s)
Day 1: Scrub the lemons well; cut them into thick slices (each lemon will be in three slices, maybe four), being careful to capture any juice that escapes. Place the lemons slices, juice and 6 c. water in a large glass or ceramic (non-reactive) bowl, cover with a plate or some plastic wrap, and leave overnight at room temperature (in a cool, dark place).
Day 2: Transfer the lemons and water into a large non-reactive stockpot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 2 hours, until the fruit is softened. Line a large colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth (or use a jelly bag if you have one). Place the colander in a large bowl, perhaps the one you used to soak the lemons overnight. Carefully, slowly ladle the hot lemons and all liquid in the pot into the cheesecloth. Gather the edges and tie the cheesecloth into a bundle with a long section of kitchen twine; suspend the bundle over the bowl (you can remove the colander) and allow to drip, untouched, for several hours. I let mine go for about 4 hours. You don’t have to watch it constantly, but eventually you will notice that it has stopped dripping; when you haven’t seen any juice drops in at least 30 mins., move the bowl out from under the bundle, cut the bundle down and discard. Resist the urge to squeeze it into the bowl; this will cloud your jelly.
Prepare jars for canning.* Measure the collected juice; I got exactly 1 1/2 c. If you are lucky enough to have more, measure out 1 1/2 c. and save the rest for another recipe. If you are short, make up the difference with regular lemon juice. Pour your 1 1/2 c. juice into a non-reactive pan and add the 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice and the calcium water. Bring to a boil. While the juice is heating, in a small bowl, mix the honey and pectin until completely combined. When the liquid is boiling, carefully stir in the honey mixture; cook vigorously for 1-2 mins., stirring occasionally, to incorporate and cook the pectin. Return to a rolling boil and cook for another 5 mins. or so, until the jelly thickens slightly and becomes glossy around the edges. Remove from the heat and skim off the foam collected on top; ladle into prepared jars, affix lids and water bath process for 10 mins. This recipe filled 2 half-pints jars; if you look closely at the picture, you can see that I had to borrow back some of the skimmed jelly to fill the jar on the right.
*I had the canner out and going, so I did water-bath process this. For a recipe this size, if you don’t want to go through the extra steps of canning, you could store the jelly in the refrigerator for several weeks.