When life gives you lemons

Posted by Anita on 01.18.10 6:23 AM

(c)2010 AEC *All Rights Reserved*I don’t think anyone would be surprised to hear that I love to can. Most years, I get started on the preservation kick at the height cherry season (when I make my annual batch of cocktail garnishes), and don’t put away the canner until after the last tomato harvest. So when I heard about a new, year-round canning challenge — one that has participants putting up a different type of produce every month  — I knew I had to jump on in and join Tigress’s Can Jam.

January’s Can Jam theme is citrus, a particularly apt topic here in the Bay Area where farmers markets and backyard trees are bursting with the best oranges, lemons, and grapefruits of the year. I always like canning with a friend to help share the work (and the resulting bounty), so I asked Laura from (not so) Urban Hennery if she’d like to can together when she visited San Francisco last weekend; she happily agreed. I flagged a bunch of citrus recipes in my favorite canning books, thinking I’d let Laura decide which sounded the most appealing. A girl after my own heart, she suggested that we make them all!

The first, a Meyer lemon curd, wasn’t technically eligible for the Can Jam, because it needs to be pressure canned to be shelf-stable. (The challenge requires all recipes to be suited to a standard boiling-water canner.) But we made it anyway, and oh am I glad we did. With the orange yolks from Laura’s hennery eggs — yes, she brought them down in her checked baggage! — and the deep yellow zest from Meyer lemons we bought from Hamada Farms, the end product turned an eye-searing yellow. If I saw a bottle of curd that yellow in the store, I’d walk away, thinking it must be filled with artificial everything.

Our second recipe — which used June Taylor‘s three-fruit marmalade as a starting point — featured a quadruple-dose of citrus: Moro blood oranges, lemons, golden grapefruit, and one giant bergamot from our backyard tree. We ended up with 9 half-pint jars of a deep crimson preserve, clear enough to see the different-shaped bits of peel suspended evenly throughout its jewel-like base. It’s pleasantly bitter, and (at least at this stage) you can pick out the flavor of each of the citrus varieties as you make your way through a spoonful… er, I mean, a slice of toast.

The last recipe turned out to be our hands-down favorite. Its simplicity — both of ingredients and of preparation — belies its gorgeous looks and uniquely delicious taste. Combining lemons, sugar, and water, this one’s good enough that Laura and I were already plotting how to get our hands on more Meyer lemons before the week was out.

(c)2010 AEC *All Rights Reserved*(c)2010 AEC *All Rights Reserved*(c)2010 AEC *All Rights Reserved*(c)2010 AEC *All Rights Reserved*(c)2010 AEC *All Rights Reserved*

Meyer Lemon Marmalade
- adapted from Catherine Plagemann’s Fine Preserving

3 perfect, very fresh Meyer lemons
1 more lemon, for juice
sugar (about 4 cups)

Sterilize canning jars and prepare lids according to manufacturer’s directions.

Peel the three lemons, removing just the yellow and none of the pith. Slice the peel into very fine, thin strips and set aside. Cut each peeled lemon in half, lengthwise. Remove as many seeds as possible plus the center strings. On a cutting board with a lip, slice the lemon halves, including the white rind, paper thin. Remove any remaining seeds. In a glass measure, combine the zest, lemon pulp, any juices from the pulp, and the juice of one more lemon. You should have about 1 cup of prepared lemon and juices.

Tigress Can JamCover the prepared lemon with about a cup of cold water; it should be just enough to submerge all of the lemon. Let soak for 3 hours, to soften the zest. After soaking, combine the soaked lemon and zest in a wide Dutch oven along with an equal amount of sugar by volume. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and simmer (do not boil) until the marmalade jells.

Keep a close eye on the cooking marmalade. It will go from liquid to jelled more quickly than you would expect. Don’t go by eye in the pan; the mixture will still look much more wet than a typically set marmalade. Use the saucer test or watch for the liquid to sheet off the edge of a metal spoon.

Ladle into hot, sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a damp, clean towel; adjust canning lids and process in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave processed jars in the canner for 5 minutes more, then remove and cool on a thick towel or a wire rack for 12 hours. When jars are completely cooled, check for proper seal. Remove rings from sealed jars, and put any unsealed jars in the refrigerator to use first.

If you can bear it, it’s best to let this marmalade cure for at least a week before eating, otherwise the zest is a bit tough.

Yields three 8oz jars

CanJam, locavore, preserving & infusing, recipes



Comment by Gaby

I need to get myself in gear and do some preserving! I love meyer lemons too… and always see them at the farmers market! Next time I pick some up I’ll need to try this!

Posted on 01.18.10 at 7:57AM

Comment by Alexa

Great post and great pics! I’m participating in The Can Jam too, and planning on venturing into marmalade this week. I’ve only canned pickles and tomatoes before though, so I’m happy that your site is such a great resource. Thanks!

Posted on 01.18.10 at 9:01AM

Comment by Tiffany @ The Gracious Pantry

I have a question. I’m new to canning and while I’ve done it twice, I don’t trust myself to get a clean and thorough close on the jars. I know they are closed tight when the jar pops, but is that the only way to tell? I’m always worried about botulism.


Posted on 01.18.10 at 10:57AM

Comment by Anita

Gaby: If you love Meyers, this is a great recipe. There’s no other flavor in there, so the lemon comes right through.

Alexa: Can’t wait to see what you make. I think you’ll enjoy making fruit preserves — it’s a little more alchemy than pickling.

Tiffany: If you’ve boiled the jars using the directions in the link in my post, you’ve sterilized them properly — don’t worry about that part. In the case of marmalade, there’s enough sugar to preserve the fruit. The minimal processing time for most preserves is intended to seal the jar and to eliminate air at the top, which could cause the contents to discolor or spoil.

Rest assured you don’t have botulism risk in a high acid/high sugar preserve — but this is why it’s important to follow recipes and not tinker with the amount of sugar or other ingredients, or you can screw up the preservative qualities.

As for proper sealing: If the jar pings and you can pick up the jar using only the lid (after removing the rings, when the jar is thoroughly cooled), then you can be sure the jar is sealed.

Another safeguard: Don’t store your jars with the rings on. If by some chance there is some spoilage, the lid will pop off, and you will know it’s not good to eat. But I have never had that happen.

Posted on 01.18.10 at 11:14AM

Comment by RobbingPeter

I couldn’t resist multiple jams either. I have already posted my Orange Coriander and Thyme Jelly – but I still need to write up my Meyer Lemon experience.

Those Meyer Lemons are so alluring. I made a Meyer Lemon and Kiwi Marmalade that is beautiful and tasty.

Posted on 01.18.10 at 12:37PM

Comment by Kristina

I still find it wonderfully exotic that you can pick citrus in your backyard. Marcus and I marveled over that lemon I brought home. :D

Posted on 01.18.10 at 12:49PM

Comment by cathy/ShowFoodChef

Loved your post and pics. I’ve done 2 workshops (HIGHLY recommend them) with June Taylor (absolutely love her) and your marmalade sounds wonderful. Loved the line…”er, excuse me toast”. I’ll be doing my post soon. I did an Orange w/Pinot Noir. We all should set up a “canning exchange” sometime during this year, huh? Cath-

Posted on 01.18.10 at 5:14PM

Comment by Eugenia

There *is* a lemon curd recipe you can water-bath can. We distribute it through our Extension office. The downside is that it uses a cup of bottled lemon juice, not fresh. I’m not sure if it’s worth it.

Posted on 01.21.10 at 5:06PM

Comment by sandi @ the whistlestop cafe

I am super impressed! I could think of some great things to do with that lemon marmalade. Yummy!

Posted on 01.22.10 at 7:08PM

Comment by Julia

Lord, you have a bergamot tree?? So cool. I’m sure this marmalade is as good as you say. Looks incredible!

Posted on 01.23.10 at 7:26AM

Comment by Libby

I took a marmalade class from June Taylor a couple of years ago and I was floored by how much work goes into all of her preserves! And I finally learned how to supreme citrus properly–that was worth the class fee by itself. All of your citrus endeavors look delicious, thanks for sharing!

Posted on 01.23.10 at 4:48PM

Pingback by Mmm. Lemon Marmelade. | Little Miss Attila

[...] miss that so much; it the 1980s they had some at Trader Joe’s that wasn’t any more expensive than [...]

Posted on 02.01.10 at 10:17PM

Comment by erik_flannestad

Funny, just getting caught up on blog reading and realized I posted about Sirop-de-Citron on the same day you posted about Marmalade. Very similar processes!

Posted on 02.02.10 at 11:33AM

Comment by Catalina

I travel with eggs from my hens too! Doesn’t everyone? LOL
Beautiful pictures and your recipe sounds yummy!

Posted on 02.13.10 at 1:58PM

Comment by Mrs B

I’ve always made my Meyer Lemon Curd in a standard water bath and never had a problem. Of course, it never lasts a full year…

With my kitchen under construction, this post is making me chomp at the bit to get it finished so I can utilize my Meyers (and Eurekas). Maybe even Tea will come and spend a canning day with me. I may just incorporate your multi-citrus marmalade into the repertoire.

Posted on 02.19.10 at 1:05PM

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.