This year, Spring, I brought a Meyer Lemon Tree (NPR story on Meyer Lemons) home from the Nashville Farmer’s Market. We planted it in a large pot, keeping it on the back porch where it would be easy to water & watch. Soon a few buds, then a few flowers, then very, very small green nibs appeared…could these be actual lemons? Yes, oh yes! Throughout the summer and into the fall the small nibs grew into gorgeous yellow smooth skinned Meyer Lemons…right on our back porch in downtown Nashville, Tennessee! Photographed more than a runway model, my little tree thrived. Frequently I would go out and just visit with my exotic lemon tree…waiting & watching.
I am sure, if you live in California, Florida, Arizona or other far away places where growing citrus in your backyard is as common as mud, that you would not see what all the fuss is about. But for me to have a real lemon tree outside on my Middle Tennessee back porch with real, live lemons, Meyer Lemons at that, hanging heavy and ripe to add to recipes or make into marmalade is something that was unimaginable a few years ago. Now, fortunately, there are many hybrid types of citrus trees that can be grown in our zone (Nashville is in Zone 7) and I, for one, am happy about that.
Af few weeks ago I harvested all 18 plump, smooth skinned Meyer Lemons from my little tree. It was somewhat bittersweet as I was at the same time worried about how to keep the tree alive through the winter months and I wanting my “first crop” to be preserved in a way that would make the lemons last longer and could be shared. Limoncello? Preserved in salt? Marmalade? Yes to marmalade.
I like a marmalades that use all the fruit, less the seeds…a chunkier, less sweet marmalade that has some body & character that store-bought versions just don’t have. It was fortuitous that I happened to have my own lemons, but use whatever citrus you like. My friend Candace Floyd makes a fabulous marmalade using Cara-Cara Oranges. I made “Buddha Hand” citrus marmalade a few years ago and it was very fine.
Citrus season is upon us and the offerings are plentiful and varied. It just takes a few hours to make & preserve this little recipe. You still have plenty of time before the holidays. Tuck a jar of this marmalade into a basket along with some crusty bread and a stick of Kerry Gold Butter and you will make someone very happy indeed: It is really as “Easy as This”.
1 1/2 lbs Meyer Lemons (or other citrus), washed & dried
5 cups water
8 ozs dried cranberries
4-5 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. Pomegranate Molasses
Equipment: Enamel or stainless steel cooking pan, a square of cheesecloth & length of twine, clean half pint or pint jars with sealable lids (I get mine here in bulk & they have a very easy 1 part sealable lid)
How to do it:
1. Cut lemons in half & remove the seeds, placing them on a square of cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth & seeds up with twine to make a little bag.
2. Cut each lemon half into quarters and slice thinly. Place slices in a nonreactive pot, stainless steel or enamel and add seed bag & water.
3. Stir, making sure all the lemon slices & seed bag are submerged. If not then add just a bit more water. Cover pan & let sit at room temperature overnight, or up to 24 hours.
4. The next day place the pan over medium high heat and bring to a low boil. Add sugar stirring often until sugar dissolves. Turn heat to simmer and cook for about 30 minutes until mixture is reduced to about 5 cups. Skim off foam as it forms. Remove mixture from the heat. Discard the seed bag. Test the marmalade by dripping a bit of the onto a cold plate…wait a few minutes to make sure the mixture gels. If not return to the heat and retest.
5. Stir in the Pomegranate Molasses which is found at most International Markets or online. I love the tart-sweet quality & just a little will really perk up the flavor of your marmalade.
6. Add the dried cranberries. I found these Orange Flavored Dried Cranberries at Trader Joe’s, but any dried cranberries will do. Talk about seasonal! Blend well.
7. Spoon hot marmalade into clean jars filling to within 1/4 inch from the top edge. Wipe rims of jars clean & seal with lids. I buy my jars online from SKS. They have a wide variety of canning jars with one piece lids that make the canning process so much easier (sorry my old friend “Ball”) & the prices are great.
8. Put jars in a hot water-bath canner with a wire rack, or set on any rack in a pot deep enough to cover jars with water by 1 inch. Bring water to a boil, pan covered & cook for 5 minutes. Turn heat off, leaving jars in hot water until it cools. Remove jars from water. Wipe dry & store in a cool dark place until you are ready to gift….Easy as That.
An alternate to actually canning, although it is really easy, is to just put jars in refrigerator until ready to give.
Our refrigerated jar of Meyer Lemon & Dried Cranberry Marmalade chilled and ready for toast.
Hot toasty bread smeared with Kerry Gold Butter & Marmalade. Life is good!
Happy Thanks-Giving y’all.