Recipe: Meyer Lemon Marmalade

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(Skip the commentary, jump to the recipe)

I’m a glutton for punishment. I saw Melissa Clark’s Meyer Lemon and Blood Orange Marmalade recipe in the New York Times recently and couldn’t resist giving it a try even though I knew it would probably mean hours of weekend cooking that wouldn’t result in “real” food for my household for the week ahead.

But I took it on anyway since I’ve been on a buttered-toast-and-jam kick these days and recently saw Meyer Lemons at Costco and have never tried them. So I bought a bulk pack.

Think chemistry, not a foolproof recipe
Making the recipe was definitely an adventure, leaving me with many more questions than answers about jam making. I guess it’s more like a chemistry experiment requiring precision and proper equipment. My marmalade turned out runny. I guess the recipe was serious about getting the mixture to an exact 222 degrees. I have a candy thermometer but couldn’t find it and my instant read showed that the mixture was approximately there.

Oh well… “approximately” was not good enough–the resulting marmalade “sauce” was delicious but it wasn’t a success. In future, I would also cut the fruit into small chunks in future rather than leaving them as large segments which turn into large, unwieldy lumps on toast.

Tips for jam making?
“What now?” is the question for my jam making career. I’d definitely love to be able to whip up a quick batch when fruit is in season but don’t want to bother with thermometers and bits of sauce dribbled on frozen saucers.

If anyone has tips on their foolproof recipes, please chime in. In future, I think I’ll lean only towards recipes with store-bought pectin—hopefully that’s easier. The only other jam recipe I’ve made on my own involved jello—definitely not high class, but homey and tasty none the less.

Next steps… finish the lemon bulk buy
The nytimes recipe left me with 2 pounds of Meyer lemons to use up still so I tested out an adapted recipe with pectin (see below) using the SURE.JELL package and Fine Cooking for guidance. The taste is delicious though it’s still a little runny. My pectin package does say that marmalade can take up to two weeks to set (??) but if I did it again, I’d boost the sugar amount to 5 or 6 cups to see if that’s what makes it firmer. (I just found this SureJell recipe online , it’s very close to what I actually made though it’s different than the recipe that came with my box of pectin. The fruit measurements are clearer here online than they were on the box.)

In the adapted recipe below, I also stuck to Melissa Clark’s tradition of simply chopping up the fruit and skipped the “zest-first” shenanigans.

So, overall, an interesting adventure. Hopefully future experiments are less perplexing though I know to skip recipes that call for candy thermometer’s and frozen saucers for testing.


Recipe: Meyer Lemon Marmalade
Note, this recipe yields a delicious lemon “sauce” or runny jam… still a work in progress. But, it’s still yummy on toast and divine swirled into plain yogurt.

8 Meyer lemons—organic if you can find them—or about 2 lbs (about four cups chopped)
2 cups water
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 package pectin
4 cups sugar (for a firmer set, try using 5 to 6 cups)

Wash lemons thoroughly and cut off the ends. Cut lemons into segments. Remove any seeds and then chop segments into even dice. While cooking, the fruit and pulp will reduce to practically nothing so the size of the peel is most critical element. You want the peel to be in nice bite sized pieces, something you wouldn’t mind eating on a piece of toast.

Bring the cut up lemons, baking soda, and water to a boil over high heat. Then simmer for 20 minutes until rinds are soft.

Add package of pectin into the fruit mixture. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.

Mix in sugar and return to a rolling boil. Boil for one minute and then remove from heat. Let sit until cool and then transfer to storage containers.

Store in the refrigerator if you will eat soon. Or in the freezer if you want it for later. If you’re more patient than I am, try canning.

More on marmalade, jam making, and cooking with Meyer Lemons

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