I am a huge fan of marmalade and making a batch of marmalade has been on my agenda for over 2 months now. My preferred method of consumption is slathering the tangy, syrupy conserve on a toasted and buttered English muffin, but it makes the perfection addition to glazes, barbecue sauce and even as an addition to specialty cocktails. Its unique, slightly tart aftertaste is also a fabulous contrast when paired with sharp or creamy cheeses, crackers, and a sparkling white wine.
- 7 (about 2 lbs.) lemons, preferably Meyer
- 2 cup cold water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Pinch of salt
Scrub the lemons and trim the ends, and then using a vegetable peeler, peel strips of zest off the lemons. Thinly julienne the peel strips into thin strips about two inches long. Put these into a small pot, cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Allow the zest to blanch for about one minute and then shock by rinsing with cold water. Strain the peels and set aside.
Using a sharp knife, peel all the skin and pith off the fruit. Removing all the pith will create a lovely clear marmalade that is not as others I have tasted. It's flecked with large lumps of fruit, as well as the julienned zest which turns into lovely candied goodness. Prepare the fruit by holding the peeled lemons over a small bowl and cutting the segments free from the membranes. Discard seeds. Capture the segments and juice in a bowl and place the membranes, pith in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring these to a boil and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove skins and reserve boiling liquid.
In a small saucepan, bring one cup of boiling liquid, sugar, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring until the sugar completely dissolves. Add the julienned peels, lemon segments, juices and thyme sprigs, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and skim any foam from the surface. Simmer very gently until the mixture breaks down and thickens, 40 to 60 minutes, checking frequently to prevent scorching or overcooking.
To test, dip a wooden spoon into the marmalade and allow the mixture to drip. When two drips merge on the end of the spoon instead of running off the spoon, the mixture will set on cooling. Alternatively drop a spoonful onto a chilled plate, run your finger through it and if your trail remains there, it's reached setting point.
Remove the thyme sprigs if you prefer (I leave them in). Take off the heat and let the mixture set for 15 minutes to help evenly distribute the peel. Using a sterilized spoon, carefully spoon the marmalade into sterilized jars leaving ample head room. Screw on lids and set aside to cool.
You can water-process the jars at this time if you want to extend the shelf life of the marmalade. Remember to wipe down the outside of jars with a wet cloth, label and date and then store in a cool, dark place.