And he got delicious while he was down there!
So, I’ve only spent about two minutes Googling this (so I might be wrong), but I think I might well have just come up with my first very own original recipe. Nothing terribly innovative about it, but it does taste like you’ve put a spread-able version of your favorite lemon-lime beverage on your toast. There’s a picture of a jar over there on the right. It looks a little like a Dreamsicle.
Panda picked up some key limes on a whim a couple of weeks ago at the asian grocery store, and I saw what I imagine might well be our last Meyer lemons until winter at the major-chain slightly-higher-end mainstream-with-an-organic/better-for-you-and-the-earth-image chain grocery store. (There’s gotta be an easier way to tell you, dear reader, where I shop without specifically mentioning a brand – something I’d rather not do – but then you wouldn’t get fun uber-hyphenated sentences like that last one. I suppose I could’ve just told you that we bought some Meyers and left it at that though too…) And then the citrus sat for about a week, quietly asking me from the counter, and eventually the fridge, to make some sort of delicious spread from it. Panda went out to try on wedding dresses with some of our mutual friends, so I snatched the opportunity to have the kitchen to myself and made some marmalade. I was torn for a while between the idea of some “warm” (to me) spices like cardamom or star anise or “bright” flavors like ginger. In the end, I went with the latter. It wasn’t a mistake, though the other spices might well have been equally nice, just different.
All that buildup. What I did after the jump:
- Just shy of 2 lbs key limes
- Just north of 1 lb meyer lemons
- ~2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger (that’s what I was aiming for at least; in reality I just grated until it looked like I had about that much in the bowl I was using to catch the ginger. But also, I quit slightly before I got there because I was getting close to a point on our ginger-root that I’d pre-determined as the place I should stop grating lest I feel like I was being overindulgent with the ingredient, because I hate using up the last of something, or using up so much of something that what remains is hardly useful for some other recipe).
- 2lbs white sugar
On Friday evening, I washed all the fruit and sliced the Meyers up – first in half (the long way), and then into as thin of slices as I could manage with our woefully dull knives (I started with the chef’s knife and then quickly moved to the boning knife – currently the sharpest in our set – but it was still tough getting the slices as small – or uniform – as I’d have liked). I sliced up one of the key limes and then decided that was just crazy talk – 3 lbs of tiny limes is a lot of slicing. So I threw all of the lemons and that one lonely lime into the enamel-coated cast iron dutch oven I use as a jam pot and just juiced the rest of the limes into a wire-mesh strainer suspended over the pot. I rounded all of that out with enough water to just cover the lemon slices, covered the whole thing up, and let it sit until the next afternoon, when the ladies left and I had the kitchen to myself. I’m not entirely certain what, if anything, that step – the overnight soak – really adds to a marmalade, but Rachel Saunders seems to do it with a lot of her marmalades, and it was (sort of) following one of her recipes that led to my first marmalade success, so I did it again.
As I’ve learned my lesson now about testing the set of things, I put a saucer and five teaspoons in the freezer before turning on the heat under my lemon-lime juice mixture. After about a 20-minute hard boil to tenderize the lemon (and one lonely lime) rinds that were in the mixture, I replaced the water that had cooked off and stirred in my sugar and ginger. Once the sugar was decently mixed in, I stopped stirring until the foaming started in earnest, at which point it was a pretty near-constant stir to avoid it foaming over the top (as best I can tell, citrus seems to foam more than any other fruit I’ve made jam from yet). About 25 minutes in, I pulled the pot off the heat (blast our stupid glass-top electric stove! I might be willing to maim someone for a gas range. I’d probably not go so far as killing, but I’d definitely consider breaking off a pencil lead in the palm of their hand, as happened to me in 3rd grade, but I digress) and tested with the first of the five spoons I’d set in the freezer. Holy crap – I’d already gotten a just-slightly-firmer set than I intended (though Panda and the ladies all seemed to agree that it was about perfect when they taste tested after they returned – I guess I just like a slightly looser marmalade than they do), so the pot stayed off the heat, and I started pulling my jars out of the boiling water and then filling them.
I got just north of 6 half-pint jars of this stuff – that is, the 7th jar ended up with just enough for me and the ladies to taste-test once they got home (I’d already tasted it, but didn’t know what it was going to do after sitting in the fridge for a few hours in terms of texture), and one more spoonful for one of the biscuits I ate for breakfast the next morning. Started cleaning up all the marma-mess while the jars were processing (10 minutes in a water bath), and the last of the lids popped as I was about halfway through the Lentils Braised in Red Wine that I was making for a pot-luck we went to later that evening.
Strong Meyer flavor, but the lime and ginger definitely come through too. In any case, this stuff is delicious. Possibly addictive. But it won’t hurt you in the same way that crack or heroin will, so I’d strongly suggest you try making and eating some of this stuff before you move on to harder drugs. They’ll ruin your life in a way that cavities won’t.
As for lessons learned, I rate this one a huge success, and therefore only have one thing I’d change:
- Don’t cut citrus when you have hundreds of tiny cuts on your hands. Once the burning starts, it takes a while to subside, no matter how many times you wash your hands.
P.S. This recipe came more or less from my head/what we had on hand, and hasn’t been – to my knowledge – officially approved by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. That said, I think this one should totally be safe in terms of the big, nasty B-word – The-Spore-That-Must-Not-Be-Named lest it jinx my future efforts and potentially kill me or someone I love. If you’re not clear on what I mean, it rhymes with “Spot You Prism”. This obviously has a ton of lemon and lime juice in it – so the acidity should definitely be high enough for a water bath canning, and I followed what I believe to be a general principle of a 0.75:1 ratio of sugar to fruit by weight. But maybe I just like to live a little too dangerously for some folks’ tastes.
Also, I wrote the ingredient list by weight rather than cups/tablespoons/etc (with the exception of the ginger) because
- That’s how I actually measured it (we just bought a pretty nifty digital kitchen scale) and
- That should make it easier for someone else to scale it up or down should they stumble across this blog and decide to try it for themselves. Let me know if you are that person and you do try to scale it up or down and for some reason it doesn’t work (obviously the surface area and material of your jam pot might have an impact, for instance, on cooking time at the very least).
P.P.S. If you want that Lentils-Braised-In-Red-Wine recipe, go buy this book. Panda got it for Christmas and it’s since been making regular appearances in our Sunday afternoon cooking for the week. Everything we’ve made so far has been fantastic ( we’ve been making – more or less – their roast chicken recipe for a while, and it’s ridiculously good). That lentil recipe is the best I lentil dish I’ve ever eaten, in any case.