I did a little happy dance this week when I found meyer lemons on sale at Whole Foods. I’m not kidding, I really did jump around and wiggle a bit – until I realized that my husband was pretending not to know me.
When I got home with a few dozen meyer lemons, it occurred to me that I had no plan for what to DO with them. I made a lovely, simple arugula and pine nut salad dressed with meyer lemon juice and olive oil. I added a hefty sprinkle of meyer lemon zest to a bowl of wild rice. Then I thought about making sorbet, but realized I had no room in my freezer. And yesterday, I suggested lemon chiffon pie, to which my husband turned up his nose.
So this afternoon, with a pile of meyer lemons, and a desperate desire to avoid the mall, I decided to experiment with making meyer lemon marmalade as a Hanukkah gift for my step-dad. My step-dad has a thing for lemons in any form, and at any given time may have three or four open jars of marmalade in the fridge. A match made in heaven!
I’ve never had much luck with marmalade before. Typically, marmalade requires boiling the peel of the fruit and discarding the boiling liquid multiple times before combining the pre-boiled peel with the juice, pulp, water and sugar to cook. This process is, frankly, a pain in the butt. I get impatient. I skip a boiling step. My marmalade tastes so bitter you may as well spread some soap on your toast.
But meyer lemons are different. These bright yellow beauties are sweeter and have a thinner peel than your typical grocery store lemons, thinner, in fact, than most citrus fruits. With minimal pith, the meyer lemon as a whole is less bitter. Plus, that thin peel cooks quickly, making the extra boiling steps unnecessary in this marmalade. That’s not to say that this marmalade is all sweetness and no bitterness. Not at all. I think the balance here is quite lovely. But be warned; this is a true marmalade, as bitter as it is sweet.
This marmalade makes a pretty gift for the lemon-lovers in your life. It’s a great holiday hostess gift, and would be a wonderful addition to a holiday brunch spread. I happen to like it best with whipped cream cheese on pumpernickel toast. It would also be nice as a topping for buttermilk pancakes, or stirred into oatmeal along with some sweetened dried cranberries. Or, if you want to get all fancy, serve it with clotted cream and fresh baked scones.
Meyer Lemon Marmalade
Makes about 2 cups
6 meyer lemons
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
Rinse the lemons. Slice them very thinly with a sharp knife, and discard any seeds. Very thinly slice the 12 end pieces and then quarter each of the center slices. Transfer the sliced lemons and any accumulated juices to a medium saucepan. Add the water and bring to a boil. Boil for five minutes. Stir in the sugar and continue to stir until the sugar dissolves, about a minute. Then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring every so often, for about 30 minutes. Toward the end of the cooking time, keep a close watch on the marmalade. It is done when a dollop placed on a very cold plate (stick a plate in the freezer for this) gels and holds its shape. If it is runny, continue to cook for a minute or two more and try the cold plate test again. Spoon the marmalade into jars and either refrigerate or process in boiling water for 10 minutes to preserve.