I know I said that I would tell you about the Moonpies from the Baby Shower, but you’ll just have to wait. See, I was perusing the produce section of my Publix a couple of days ago and I saw a little basket that said “Meyer Lemons, While Supplies Last.” So I bought them. Yes, that’s right, all of them. Every last one. You can understand, right? Why I didn’t leave any for anyone else? I mean, I’ve bought regular lemons masquerading as Meyer Lemons in the past, but I’ve never seen anything I was sure was a real live Meyer before. These were more orange than yellow, and had a very bright scent. They were also noticeably softer than other lemons, with a thinner peel. I loaded them up and ran right home to search my cookbooks for a suitably grand recipe. I had thought to make lemon-poppyseed bread, since I love it and Jacob wasn’t home to object (he’s not a fan of loud citrus flavors), but when I saw the Marmalade recipe in my Gourmet cookbook I knew that was the way to go.
I’ve never had marmalade before, nor made it, so it was a lot of fun to try it out, especially with such good ingredients. The lemons had a really great flavor – not overly tart, and sweeter than normal lemons, and with a piney sort of scent/taste. When they were cooking down, they made my kitchen smell just lovely. If you’ve never had Meyer Lemons before, I encourage you to give them a try if you see them. I know they’d be killer in a lemon tart, or meringue pie, but you could also just use a squeeze in a vinaigrette, or over seafood and still enjoy the flavor.
The marmalade was very simple to make – easier than some jams I’ve made, since there was no mashing, or pureeing. You do have to soak them for a whole day, though, so be sure to plan your time accordingly. Other than the soaking time, I had the whole project complete in about an hour, so it’s not a huge time commitment.
MEYER LEMON MARMALADE
Makes 6 1/2-Pint Jars
Active Time: 1 1/4 hours
Total Time: I day plus 1 1/4 hours
1 1/2 lb Meyer Lemons (about 6)
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
Halve lemons crosswise and remove seeds, but don’t throw them out! Tie the seeds in a small cheesecloth bag – you’ll want the seeds to cook with the lemons so they’ll provide the pectin. Quarter each lemon half and thinly slice. Combine with bag of seeds and water in a 5-quart nonreactive heavy pot and let mixture stand, covered, at room temperature 24 hours.
After soaking, bring lemon mixture to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until reduced to approximately 4 cups, about 45 minutes.
While the lemons are cooking down, sterilize 6 half-pint jars, as well as bands and lids. (I also put a couple of small plates in my freezer to chill at this point, for checking the doneness later*.)
Stir in sugar and boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally and skimming off any foam, until a teaspoon of mixture dropped on a cold plate* gels, about 15 minutes.
Carefully remove your seed bag and pour the hot marmalade into jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of top. Wipe rims with dampened cloth and seal jars with lids. Process for 10 minutes (for half-pints, longer for bigger jars), then let cool.
Marmalade keeps, stored in a cool, dark place, up to 1 year.
*I’ve never used the cold plate method before, but it worked really well for me. I put a plate in the freezer when I started cooking down my lemons, so that it would be well chilled. Then, when you think the marmalade is done, drop a small spoonful on the cold plate and stick it back in the fridge (not freezer!) for a minute or so. When you pull it out, tilt the plate and see if the marmalade runs – if it doesn’t, it’s done. If it runs, just continue cooking until it does set.