January 10, 2012

Meyer Lemon and Strawberry Marmalade

I made it to the other side of the citrus heap!  Marmalade making is really not hard, in fact you break up the work so much, it doesn't feel like work at all.  It was all a matter of timing yesterday.  Some marmalades were started the day before, some yesterday morning.  Some needed to be cooked then soaked, some just soaked and some not at all.  The cooking portion took only a few hours, my head in it's happy place with citrus on the air.  Sunshine in my eyes.  The only time of day my soul wasn't hurting for the open road, my heart had come back home.

I've determined with spoonfuls of jam that I'm a marmalade wuss.  Bitter, it's all bitter in my mouth.  Now I've seen, now I believe, it's zest only from here on out, I'm done with you pith.  I've gone years without you and see no reason to start now.

I made three small recipes featuring Meyer Lemons, the lemon of folklore and myth here in Canada.  The elusive, the wonderful, mine.  (Wouldn't you know, after my celebratory finding of these lemons at a specialty store I walked into entire bins full of them at a huge chain store here in town, boo!  Nothing special about that is there?)  I made a plain Meyer lemon marmalade, a blood orange-Meyer lemon marmalade and a strawberry-Meyer lemon marmalade.  They all turned out wonderfully, though the plain lemon and strawberry features were the best, the orange-lemon being still to bitter for my liking.

The star of the show, the reason I was canning in the first place was for a citrus marmalade I was making for A Jam Collective.  It turned out abominably.  Awful. Nasty.  Disgusting.  Like cleaning products and mealy pears.  It was atrocious.  And now I have 9.5 cups of the stuff.  What am I going to do?  Throw it out, that's what I'll do, it's taking up precious real estate on my canning shelves.  Instead my subscribers are getting small jars of the good marmalades and a second jar of last summer's preserves, apricot-cherry or blackberry-peach.  I'd be happy with that in my fridge!

I blame the failure of the citrus marmalade we put so much work into on the quality of ingredients we got.  It had: grapefruit, cara cara oranges, kumquats and a pomelo.  The grapefruit and oranges were great quality, I knew exactly what to look for.  The pomelo however was something I'd never even seen before!  I scoured the stores looking for one and when I finally did it was wrapped in two layer of plastic wrap, not a good sign.  I did my best to pick one out.  The kumquats were a similar story, both seemed like they had been sitting many months in storage by the time I cut into them.  Once again I learned my lesson, buy local and buy products you trust.

I'm sorry earth, for wasting your bounty, but it's going in the garbage.

Meyer Lemon & Strawberry Marmalade

Source: Hitchhiking to Heaven, a favourite source.
Makes: 4.5 cups

3/4 lb (12 oz) Meyer lemons (about 7 or 8)
2.5 cups water
8 oz strawberries pureed
8 oz strawberries, chopped
600 g (3 cups) sugar

Cut the ends of the lemons off, slice lemons in quarters, then cut out the piece of white pith in the center of the slice.  Scrape out the seeds with you finger, catching juice over a bowl.  Finely slice the fruit to 1/8 of an inch.  (There is a wonderful tutorial here.)  Keep the pithy centers and seeds separate.  Wrap these along with the end pieces in a piece of cheesecloth and tie it up so nothing can escape.

Put the lemons, lemon juice, water and cheesecloth/pith bag into a medium sized non-reactive pot (stainless steel is fine.)  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 5 minutes, NO MORE.

Pour the whole pot of ingredients into a glass bowl to cool down and soak.  Cover and leave for 4-6 hours at room temperature.  If you need to leave it longer place in the fridge.  This is so the rinds can soften.

When you are ready to go be sure to have you glass jars sterilized and ready to go.  Place the lemons and all their liquid in a large pot.  Squeeze out the cheesecloth bag and discard.  Bring the lemons to a simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until they come apart easily when pressed up against the sides of the pan.

Get the strawberries (frozen from last summer, obviously) ready.  Add the pureed strawberries into the lemons along with the sugar and bring to a boil.  Cook at a high temperature for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.  After 15 minutes add the chopped strawberries and cook the marmalade until it reaches at jelling point, 220F.  Use the spoon test or the wrinkle test to ensure doneness.  This might take some time.

When it is done allow the marmalade to cool for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice to allow the fruit to evenly distribute.  Ladle into jars and water bath can for 10 minutes.  Awesome!

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