Back in June, with the in-laws’ lemon tree in full fruit, I mentioned that I was contemplating marmalade. My problem, though, is marmalade recipes are always written for large quantities. It makes sense of course – you usually have a lot of fruit to preserve – but in my case it just shifts the problem into the future. Short of giving it away (a good option, which I still employ) there is just no way I can use all the different marmalades I’d like to make!
So I decided to try a scaled down recipe, just enough to fill a couple of jars (well, three, but only because two of my jars were minis). The meyer variety are particularly juicy so I only needed three large lemons, and a relatively modest amount of sugar as they are naturally less tart than a regular lemon. The result? Sunshine in a jar!
I always feel it’s risky to fiddle with preserve recipes, what if it doesn’t set? But in this case I lucked out: the marmalade has a gorgeous medium set and a wonderful rich flavour. Not as mouth-puckering as a really zingy lemon, but a warm depth that puts a smile on your face on a winter morning :). I gifted a small jar to my marmalade-doubting parents and think I have a couple of converts!
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- 3 large meyer lemons
- 450g caster sugar
- Place a small saucer in the freezer (to use for testing the set of your marmalade later).
- Wash the lemons thoroughly (it's best to avoid supermarket-bought as the skin will usually be waxed). Add to a small saucepan with enough water to cover the fruit, then bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover and simmer the lemons for about 1 hour, when the skin should be completely soft and the fruit collapsing.
- Remove the lemons from the water and set aside to cool slightly. Measure the remaining water and reduce it to 600ml (or top it up if you have less than 600ml already). Remove from the heat while you prepare the lemons.
- When the fruit is cool enough to handle, cut lengthwise into quarters and scoop the soft flesh and seeds away from the skin. Wrap the flesh and seeds in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie securely.
- Carefully scrape any remaining pith from the skin and discard, then slice the skin into fine strips. Take as much or little care as you have the patience for: the more effort the clearer your final marmalade with be!
- Add the lemon skin, sugar and cheesecloth parcel to the pan of water and return to a high heat. Bring to a hard boil and keep it rolling until the marmalade is ready to set. This will take a while, at least 20 minutes, and you can test it using your chilled saucer. Take the saucer from the freezer and place a teaspoon of marmalade on it. Allow it to cool for a minute then push it with your finger: if it is ready to set then the surface of the droplet should crinkle. (If you have a candy thermometer you are aiming for a temperature of 105°C.)
- When ready to set, let the marmalade cool for 10-15 minutes. During this time you may want to skim any impurities from the surface for a clearer result. When partly cool pour into sterilised jars and seal immediately.