One of my most recent projects is trying to find a successful recipe for lemon marmalade. I tried one last week and it was horrible. I had to toss the entire batch. Since then, I learned a thing or two about making lemon marmalade. Most importantly, you need to have the correct pot to cook the jam in! Now this came as a surprise to me and was not mentioned in any of the recipes I had looked at. A stainless steel pot, it seems, would be perfect rather than the aluminum or Teflon coated pan that I used on my wasted batch. Since I had to buy new pot, I thought I might find one in a thrift store. No luck there. Who would think that a stainless steel pot would be such a hot commodity?
I found a decent pot for $12.99. Guess I will find other uses for it as well as other attempts at jam making. As a complete novice in my younger days, I had made batch upon batch of apricot and strawberry jam with no problems. I just figured it out using the directions on the pectin or canning jars packages with few problems. Now I have the benefit of the internet and many recipes to choose from but boy, did I struggle with this!
I am sharing my last batch recipe which I will consider mildly successful. Caution-lemon marmalade is very tart! My next batch may include a recipe with more sugar. Unless you do not like-no love- lemon, this might not be for you. This particular recipe comes from About.com Home Cooking (who borrowed it from Country Living’s Country Morning Cook Book).
Be ready for at least 30 minutes of prep time and about 1 1/2 hours of cooking time. I have made few changes which I am including.
10 large lemons
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
Using vegetable peeler remove the yellow lemon part of the peel and cut in strips 1 by 1/8 inch. Be sure to remove all the white membrane. I didn’t have a peeler and used a small paring knife which worked just fine. Cut lemons into slices by quartering or which ever way works best for you. Remove the membranes and seeds and set aside. Throw away the white part (or recycle maybe?)
Cut strips into smaller pieces if desired. Combine small strips and cut lemons into non aluminum pan (guess it did tell me-next time I need to watch for these little details!) Cover and soak in fridge for 3-4 hours
Place on stove over high heat. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover pan and cook lemon mixture over low heat for about an hour or until the lemon peel is very soft. Stir occasionally.
Add sugar to lemon mixture, increase heat to medium high, stir until sugar dissolves. Heat to boiling and reduce heat until you have a gentle boil. Boil uncovered for approx. 45 minutes – 1 hour stirring frequently. (I stayed closed by and stirred often!) Using a candy thermometer test until the mixture registers 220 degrees. I don’t have a candy thermometer so I used an alternate method I had previously read about. Chill several plates. At about 45 minutes and again every 5 minutes or so, drop a small amount onto the chilled plate. It should not spread too much and when slightly cooled, push with your finger until it “wrinkles.”
While this mixture is cooking, prepare your jars using three 1 pint jars, or the equivalent. (I used 2 pint jars and 4 1/2 pint jars). You should follow manufactures directions for processing jars.
The directions for the jars stated I should wash jars, rims, and bands. I boiled the jars and kept hot until just before use. I put the rims and bands into a glass bowl. I then poured boiling water into the bowl. I used a sterilized metal spoon to ladle hot marmalade into jars. I used sterilized tongs to remove jars from water and set on a clean dish towel. Allow about 1/4 inch head space in each jar. Working quickly, ladle marmalade into jars, wipe rims and place lids followed by bands onto the jars. Thommmee helped me during this during phase as two set of hands make the job easier. I then took the filled jars and placed them back into a pot covering with boiling water. I had to use 2 pans. Gently boil for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water bath and set on rack or clean towel to cool. You will begin to hear a popping sound as the jars seal themselves.
After cooling completely, there should be no wiggle room in the seals.
One last trick. In many jam/jelly/marmalade recipes you are asked to add Certo or other pectin to help the jam become firm or set. In looking for a recipe, I found out that the fruit contains pectin. You can use the membranes of the fruit with the seeds to make your own pectin. Simply take these otherwise useless leftovers and place into cheese cloth or a jelly bag. Tie with string, tie to handle of the pot, and drop into the mixture during the first cooking phase. Before adding the sugar, remove bag and cool until able to handle. Squeeze out what you can from this into your pot to add additional natural pectin. It will be messy and gooey. You might not get much but my marmalade set up great so I will continue to use this method!
Sounds like a lot of work-right? Well, it is. We have a bumper crop of lemons and I think it is worth it. I heard this can be great for cooking too. I am going to attempt to make another batch. I will let you know if I find a better recipe! Happy cooking.!