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Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Let me start this post by saying that marmalade is time-consuming. I won't give you any false hopes of "effortless" or "30-minute" marmalade. Marmalade is the jam-maker's painstaking ode to the winter fruits. It is not a process to rush along. It is, rather, the fullest expression of intensely perfumed citrus fruit. If you think of it this way rather than as just another project to hurry to completion, making marmalade seems a rather fitting way to spend an afternoon.

I have always been one of those individuals who enjoys time-consuming projects. I think it is that focusing on the minutae of tedious tasks gives my whirligig brain something to slow the turning wheels--something to chew on, as it were. If you are more pressed for time or perhaps do not need the extended period of introspective work, you can easily break this project up into small pieces over a span of two to three days.

I think part of the reason I love marmalade is because it is somewhere between a jam and a jelly. Strips and bits of citrus peel are suspended in a golden jelly, giving it a bit of chew while still being completely spreadable. I also appreciate it for the sheer reason that the whole fruit is put to use.

I like a marmalade that is very refined, containing none of the white pith. This is not to avoid marmalade's characteristic bitterness--you will still get a good balance of bitterness with this recipe. But rather, segmenting the fruit and separating the pith out gives you an exquisitely crystalline, smooth marmalade. It takes a little extra time to get there, but it's more than worth it.

I've addressed the topic of sectioning citrus fruits before, but I'm including some photos in this post that are (hopefully) helpful. It's really not a difficult thing to do but it takes a little time to get the hang of it. Once you've simmered the pulp and peel in water, the actual marmalade comes together surprisingly quickly. Getting the temperature of the marmalade to reach 220˚F should set it, but I always like to do the freezer test too. Place a plate in the freezer when you start making the marmalade. When it starts to get thick and syrupy, spoon a little of it onto the chilled plate and place it back in the freezer for a minute. If the marmalade "wrinkles" when you drag your finger through it, it's ready to put into jars.

For a little extra something, I added a bay leaf to one of my jars before spooning in the marmalade. It's pretty and will impart a subtle bay flavor, but this is purely optional of course.

Other articles you might enjoy: Canning and Preserving 101, Quince Jelly and Membrillo, Red Red Strawberry Jam

Meyer Lemon Marmalade
Makes 4 to 5 half-pints

Note: Be sure to read my post on basic canning and preserving.

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from:
              4 pounds Meyer lemons
Stack the strips of peel on top of one another and cut them into very thin slivers. Set aside.
Cut off the very top and bottom of each lemon so that you can stand them up on the cutting board. Following the curve of the lemons with your knife, cut off the white pith to expose the fruit inside. You will be able to see thin, vertical lines of pith that show you where the segments of the fruit are. Cut out the fruit segments, leaving the pith behind. You essentially do this by cutting into the fruit in a "V" where the segments are. Remove all seeds and discard.
Combine the lemon segments and peel in a saucepan with just enough water to cover (for me, this was about 3 to 4 cups). Gently simmer the fruit until the water has mostly evaporated and the lemon peel has softened.
Add:
             4 cups sugar
Stir to dissolve and cook the marmalade over medium high heat (my stovetop runs hot, so I cooked mine at medium) until the mixture reaches 220˚F, the jelling point. Be sure to use the freezer test as referred to above to ensure that your marmalade is ready. You want it thick but not completely gelatinous.
Ladle the marmalade into washed and sterilized jars and process in a water bath for 5 minutes. Cool completely. Remove the jar rings to store.

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