The quest for the perfect, homemade Christmas present continues! I’m now experimenting with yellow-colored sweet spreads. I made a nice-sized pot of lemon marmalade, infused with fresh ginger. And I must say, this stuff was ridiculously easy to make…
First, let me say that everything I know about making marmalade I learned from Alton Brown. He was making orange marmalade, the classic. But he mentioned you could make the stuff from almost any citrus: Limes, lemons, grapefruit and so on. That got me to thinking, and the rest is history. (Or maybe geography; I forget.)
I had five nice-sized lemons. Not the large ones that look more like an orange. But not small ones, either. I guess you’d call them medium-large? I dunno; I don’t know how to grade fruit sizes. Anyway, I got out the ceramic-bladed knife and cut the ends off the lemons. Then I sliced each lemon across in very thin slices; something like an eighth of an inch thick. As I went I got rid of the seeds. (This sounds like a lot of work, but five lemons took ten minutes, tops.) I also retained any juice that got away; about a couple tablespoons is all, though. That knife is sharp! Doesn’t damage the flesh hardly at all.
I put the lemon slices and juice into a pot with about four cups of water and brought the whole shebang to a good boil. (If you want more lemon flavor, I think you can substitute lemon juice for some of the water. Might be a tad strong, though!) Then I turned the heat down to a nice simmer, covered the pot and simmered for almost an hour. I stirred the mixture every so often, to test how the citrus was cooking down. When the lemons were quite soft I noticed that the liquid was a wee bit syrupy.
I took some crushed ice out onto a shallow plate and got a big, metal tablespoon. I dipped out some of the syrup and placed the spoon carefully onto the ice for about a minute. Voila! The liquid was almost jelled. If this had been oranges, I’m sure there would have been enough pectin to get a good jell by this point; but lemons don’t have quite so much pectin.
I grated a piece of fresh ginger at this point. About a two-inch piece, peeled. I discarded the fibers that collected when the meat was grated. (They’re not great eating.) I then put the grated ginger into the pot. I guess you could use stuff from the jar if you wanted. Just not the pickled stuff, I think!
Next step: I weighed out 24 oz of sugar. Yes, by weight. By volume, that’s almost 3½ cups. I poured all but a couple ounces of the sugar into the simmering lemons and stirred until the sugar dissolved. I turned up the heat a bit and brought the mix back to a goodly boil. (I had to put a small pat of butter into the marmalade to keep it from boiling over. And you basically can’t stop stirring at this point or you’ll get a Real Mess.) Meanwhile, I took a scant tablespoon of low-sugar pectin and put it in the remaining bit of sugar, mixing it well. After the marmalade had boiled for a few minutes I poured the sugar-pectin mix into the pot and stirred vigorously.
After a couple more minutes of boiling and stirring I removed the pot from heat and let it rest, covered, on the back of the stove. Usually at this point you’d again check the jell, but I could see the liquid was quite syrupy, so I suspected it would be just fine. Also, I didn’t immediately can the product into jars. I’ll do that tomorrow, after I experiment with some of it in a special pepper jelly I’m making.
Once the marmalade was cool, it was quite stiff and spreadable. Great stuff! More on the next experiment as the Pepper Jelly Chronicles continue…
Enjoy the (Sweet-Tart Marmalade) Heat!
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