I love growing fruits and vegetables on our plot of paradise. In addition to our two acres of Petite Sirah grapes, and a small summer vegetable garden, we also have pomegranates, persimmons, apples, pears, an orange tree, a new peach tree, and two Meyer lemon trees. Every year around this time, we have hundreds and hundreds of little yellow orbs of sunshine. We sell most of them to our local Sonoma Market and we give lots away to local restaurants Harvest Moon Cafe and Cafe LaHaye and friends. But I’m always looking for new ways to use them, and this year, I got very lucky to get a lesson from my friend Julie who is Sonoma’s unofficial jam, jelly and marmalade Maven.
We met Julie and her adorable husband Ed because they are grandparents to our niece Alexandra’s friend and schoolmate Kari. Every time Julie comes by to pick Kari up after a play-date, she gifts me with a different variety of her homemade jam. Turns out that she makes hundreds and hundreds of jars a year by foraging fruit in the area. It is her creative and social outlet and lucky for me, she loves giving lessons.
We made a date to make Lemon Meyer Marmalade at her house on Monday morning. We bought an OXO Mandoline Slicer at our fabulous local kitchen store, Sign of the Bear. Per Julie’s instructions, my Hubby cut off the ends, and put four cups of de-seeded lemons sliced about 1/4 of an inch thick into a pot and covered them with eight cups of water and let them soak overnight.
Because our lemons were so small this year, we probably used about ten of them to get to four cups. (Thank you Hubby for doing all the slicing and hand modeling so I could take the photos!)
After covering the lemons with water, we just let them sit out overnight. (The recipe books in the background are just a fraction of my collection. I get inspired by beautiful, well-written cookbooks. I read them like novels at times.)
When I showed up at Julie’s house, she had a buffet of lovely jams and marmalades to taste.
We then poured my lemons and the water into a large stainless steel pot, and set it on the stove on high heat to bring it to a boil. Once it came to a boil, we cooked it for 20 minutes.
We set the oven at 250 degrees and heated our jars while the fruit boiled.
After the fruit cooked for 20 minutes, we added three cups of sugar and brought the mixture back to a boil and cooked it for another 20 minutes. (You’ll notice the canning lids are in the small pan behind the lemons. Julie soaks them separately in a pan of warm water. She suggests placing the lids back to back so that the rubber strips do not stick to one another.)
After the second 20 minutes of cooking, take a small spoon and drop a bit of the mixture onto a small frozen plate. Place the plate back in the freezer for a few minutes to cool.
Take it out and look to see if the mixture is thick by drawing a finger through the juicy stuff and if it maintains a little trough for a bit, it’s done. Taste the mixture and add sugar if you think it needs it. My marmalade tasted great and didn’t need any additional sugar, but didn’t hold together after the finger test. The mixture was still pretty runny, so we boiled it for another five minutes.
The second time we dropped a taste onto the frozen plate, and stuck it back in the freezer for a few minutes, the mixture passed the finger test. It was ready!
In addition to your canning jars (which are warming in the oven) Julie recommends you have on hand the following: rubber tongs, a wide funnel, and a ladle with a hook on the end so it can rest on the edge of the pot without falling into the hot marmalade.
Drain the lids and put them in a bowl. Using your tongs, grab a warm jar and fill it up to very near the top with hot marmalade using the ladle and funnel. Be sure not to get any marmalade on the rim of the jar, and use a moist paper towel to wipe away any drips.
My four cups of sliced lemons netted 3 1/2 jars of marmalade. The half filled jar is not stable to keep long, so treat it as open and keep it in the fridge. Be sure not to jostle the jars for about 24 hours after canning.
I was so drunk on lemon love that I made them the theme of the dinner party we hosted that night and served:
Endive salad with walnuts, pears and gorgonzola cheese. I made a dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, real maple syrup and finely chopped fresh mint leaves.
Lemon Chicken Breasts (From the Barefoot Contessa)
Lemon Yogurt Cake (From the Barefoot Contessa) with vanilla ice cream and a scoop of the Trueheart Meyer Lemon Marmalade
Thank you Julie!!! I still have dozens of lemons left, and since I want plenty of jars to gift to friends (and to eat), I want to make more. Let me know if you try this process and how it all turns out. Or, if you have other suggestions, I’d love to hear about them.