Meyer Lemon Marmalade

jars

In the last year I have fallen passionately in love with Meyer Lemons.  The flesh is sweeter than a regular lemon with more floral notes, and the rind is thin, delicate and not too bitter.  You can juice or zest them, of course, but you can also eat them whole – rind and all.  We LOVE them sliced fine and diced into salads and pastas – anywhere you would add lemon juice or zest, you can add some juicy Meyer Lemon bits.

Alas, they are only available for a few months in winter.  I have thankfully discovered a way to enjoy their sweet-tart floral goodness all year ’round:  Meyer Lemon Marmalade!  Oh my.  The perfect balance of tart, sweet, bitter, floral and just the right amount of “chewiness” from the thin rinds.  And the recipe could NOT be easier – just 3 ingredients, no overnight soak, no hours-long cook time.  To make a batch, which yields ~4 half pints, all you need is the standard 1:1:1 marmalade ratio of 3 ingredients:

  • 3 cups thinly sliced Meyer Lemons (8-12 lemons, depending on size)
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • plus canning jars and new lids

Cut the ends off the lemons, and put the ends in a small saucepan with 1 ½ cups of water.

pan of pips

Meyer Lemons are chock full of pips (seeds), so you will need to slice out the “core” of pith, taking as many pips with it as you can.  The easiest way to do it:  cut lemon in half; cut a “V” out of the center of each half, splitting the lemon half in 2 and removing the core of pith and pips.  Place the “cores” and all the pips in the saucepan with the lemon ends & water.

depiping

depiped

Bring the pan of pips, cores and ends to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.  You are extracting the pectin from these parts, which you will need for your marmalade to set.  While that mixture simmers, thinly slice the lemon quarters (as thick or thin as you want).  Meyer Lemons are juicy and thin skinned and slicing them finely is a bit of a challenge, so use your sharpest knife.  I use a bench scraper to transfer the slices to a measuring cup so I don’t lose any of that delicious juice.  Tip:  I wear food safe latex gloves when I cut this many lemons – the acid can do a number on your skin and nails!

scraper

Place your 3 cups of sliced lemons into a heavy, non-reactive pan, preferably one with a wide bottom to speed the cooking process.  I like a bit of chew to my marmalades, so as you can see I didn’t slice the lemons too thinly.  But again, Meyer Lemons have thin, tender rinds, so you can get away with that.

raw

Back to our percolatin’ pan of pips.  At the end of 20 minutes you will have a murky swill, which does not look too hot but is pure marmalade making magic.

pectin

Strain this liquid into a 1 qt glass measure, and add water to equal 3 cups.

strained

Add the 3 cups of pectin-infused water to the lemon slices, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  You are looking for the rinds to be softer, but not to the point that the fruit breaks down.

cooked

Add the 3 cups of sugar to the cooked lemons, stir to dissolve, and bring back to a boil.  Boil steadily (but not too vigorously), stirring often to prevent scorching.  Okay, full disclosure, here is where this recipe gets a leeeeetle tricky, but you can do this!  Normally in a preserves recipe without added pectin you are just looking to get the mixture to the gelling point (8 degrees above the temp for boiling water at your altitude).  Yes, you do want to get the mixture to that temperature, but Meyer Lemons don’t have a ton of natural pectin, so you also need to visually confirm that it has indeed hit the gelling point – which is a magic sweet spot of both temperature and sugar/pectin saturation.  Depending on how much pectin is in the fruit and how wide your pan is, it can take 10 minutes or maybe even 30 to get there.

If you are “old hat” at jam making, you can probably tell when it hits the magic spot just by looking at it and seeing how it flows off the spoon (sheeting), but if you are not that confident, by all means do the plate test!!!  Place a small plate and several spoons in the freezer before you start the recipe.  When the mixture reaches the gelling temperature and seems to have thickened a bit (the bubbles will also be larger), turn the heat off, scoop a bit of the jelly out with one of the cold spoons, pour it on the chilled plate and put it in the freezer for a minute.  Take the plate out and run your finger thru the jelly – if it is still soupy, keep cooking and retest.  If the jelly forms a kind of “skin” and mounds up when you push on it, you are done!  Ladle the hot marmalade into sterilized canning jars, wipe the rims, and secure the lids and bands.  Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes; let cool in the water bath 5 minutes before removing to the counter.  Marmalade sets as it cools.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade is divine on top of cheese and crackers (don’t judge, all I had when the craving hit was saltines!) and holy cow good mixed into homemade yogurt with muesli!  I can also confirm it is sigh inducing when consumed on its own, straight from the jar.  Enjoy!served

Cheese & lem

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