This has truly been a magnificent citrus season. I can’t ever recall seeing so much variety and quality of exceptional citrus in the supermarket. This year there has been an abundance of blood oranges, cara cara oranges, Moro oranges, navel oranges of every size, kumquats (yes the funniest fruit), grapefruits of every color, pomelo, Buddha Hands and much of it has been available organically grown.
Over the last couple of years there has been a lot of talk about Meyer lemons, Alice Waters and Martha Stewart among others are to blame for that (tongue in cheek, I like Meyer lemons…I use the word blame sardonically). Chefs tout it as being the best thing since sliced bread, a metaphor I don’t understand since I like to slice my own bread. In fact, I am hard pressed to name another variety of lemon, I just call them lemons. There are several varieties under cultivation: Lisbon, Eureka, Ponderosa, and each has its unique characteristics. The Meyer lemon is known for its sweeter, less tart taste and flavor slightly reminiscent of Mandarin orange. For the way I use lemons most of the time Meyer lemons are not a good choice because I am usually looking for a good acidic lemon, but I have finally found a great thing to do with the Meyer lemons that none of the other lemons do quite as well.
The Meyer lemon is also know to have a thin skin. That got me thinking…I like the idea of marmalade, but most citrus skin is too bitter for me. Why not make marmalade out of a Meyer lemon? The thin skin will candy well and be much less bitter than most other citrus. The juice has a hint of Mandarin orange as well, it will be perfect for me. It was!
To prepare for this recipe I read a lot of marmalade recipes and they all seemed too complicated. My first thought was simply to make “candied” slices of Meyer lemons to dip into chocolate (but I had already done that with kumquats). I simply could not understand why someone would juice an orange (most recipes are for orange marmalade), slice the rind, boil the rind, drain the rind and boil it again in sugar syrup. Perhaps the extra steps remove some of the bitter flavor, but most marmalades are still too bitter for me. So I bought some Meyer lemons and I figured I would just give it a try.
The Meyer Lemon Marmalade turned out incredible. The combination of sweet, tart, lemon and orange are absolutely perfect for a marmalade, and all I did was cut the fruit, combine it with sugar and water, boil it over medium heat until it reached 220°F, place in a wide mouth 1 quart jar and let it cool. It can be canned but I have no intention of storing it for any period of time, it will be consumed immediately.
Makes about a quart
5 Meyer lemons cut into quarters and then sliced (remove as many seeds as you can)
2½ cups sugar
1 cup water
You will need a thermometer for this recipe. Wash the Meyer lemons. Cut them into wedges (I just made quarter wedges) and then slice them into ¼ inch slices removing as many seeds as you can (I don’t like seeds in my marmalade). Place the sugar, the water and the Meyer lemon slices into a heavy bottomed sauce pan with as much of the juice purged during cutting as you can – don’t waste a drop of the nectar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 220°F on a thermometer. This should take about an hour and yield about a quart of the most delicious marmalade you can get.
In fact you can’t just get this, there is nothing like it in the supermarket. This would be a good thing to can and keep around since Meyer lemons are not around all the time. I used ½ cup of sugar for each lemon. Then I added half as much water as sugar to the sugar and sliced lemons. Even if the lemons cost one dollar each the total cost of the quart of marmalade was $7.25, far less expensive than you could buy at any market. This would be a great thing to do with the kids this weekend and you will enjoy the fruits of your labor for weeks to come. Enjoy!