Archive for January, 2010

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

sliced lemons
It’s January, which in the Bay Area (and all of California, for that matter) means it’s citrus season. While much of the rest of the country is frozen over — today in Boston the forecast was 34 degrees and snowing — we’re lucky enough to live someplace where winter means fresh oranges, limes, grapefruits and lemons. And queen among the local citrus trees — at least in my book — is the Meyer lemon.

Meyer lemons are an amazing fruit. Originally created in China as a lemon and mandarin orange hybrid, it has an appealing sweetness lacking in other lemons. And, with a fragrant and thin rind, barely any pith, and ample juice, it’s really the ideal cooking lemon.

I planted my Meyer lemon tree around five years ago, and although it’s given me a steady stream of fruit since we first set it into the ground outside our front porch, this is the first year that our tree was crowded with lemons. So what do you do with an overabundance of sweet and tart Meyers? In my case, I had great plans to make marmalade. So with my friend Kim’s help, we set to work slicing a small mountain of Meyers collected from my tree.

Kim hard at work

After the lemons were all sliced, we set them in a pot and covered them with water to steep overnight. This allows some of the pectin in the pith beneath the rind to release into the water. It also makes the lemon slices more malleable. In the morning, we added some sugar along with a satchel of the lemon seeds, pith and lemon ends (which we had saved and tied in a cheesecloth) to the pot. After simmering for an hour, the mixture was ready to go. It was sweet and tart with a nice mild bitter marmalade edge. If you don’t like any bitterness in your preserves, you can omit the seeds from the recipe, but you may end up with a runnier marmalade as the seeds add pectin.

marmalade in a jar

Now normally I would can my jam, but the ennui that has enveloped me all January was still too strong, so Kim and I instead plopped some of the marmalade into washed jars to be used immediately and then I also froze some for later use. I hear that marmalade improves with age, so if you have the time and inclination, it’s worth canning.

The next morning after the kids left for school, I sat and ate toast topped with Meyer lemon marmalade. Such a lovely mid-winter treat that is easily made if you live in the right climate.

lemon to be cut

Homemade Meyer Lemon Marmalade

According to Kim, the key to great marmalade is slicing the lemons sliver thin. So be sure to use a sharp chef’s knife. Here’s what you do:

1. Wash the lemons and set in a bowl.

slicing off the ends

2. Cut the ends off the lemons and then slice in half length-wise.

removing the inner pith

3. Slice out the pith in the lemon’s inner core and set into a bowl to keep for later use. You should also set the lemon ends in this bowl.

4. Remove the lemon’s seeds and place into that bowl of pith and ends.

slicing the lemon

5. Cut lemons into paper thin slices.

6. Place lemon slices in a large pot, being sure to scrape the juice from the cutting board in as well so you retain the juices. Soak at least over night and up to two days.

Here’s the recipe we used. The sugar amount is flexible and should be determined by how sweet you like your marmalade. Kim and I both like ours a bit tart, so we used the lesser amount. When your batch is complete, you can either can the jam in hot jars, freeze it in plastic bags or containers, or refrigerate and then eat within a week or two.

Ingredients
Makes: 6 small or 3 large jars of jam

5 cups thinly sliced lemons with the seeds, ends and inner pith removed and set aside
5 cups water
4-5 cups granulated sugar

Preparation:

1. Place lemon slices in a large pot and cover with water. Let steep overnight.
2. Once lemons have steeped, add the sugar to the pot and mix.
3. Place the seeds, pith and lemon ends in cheesecloth. Tie up and set into the mixture.
4. Bring the lemons to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for one hour.
5. Can or freeze.

Related Posts
The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Preserving Tomatoes
Meyer Lemon Tart with Berries

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Puree of (Frozen) Pea Soup

Last Saturday I awoke to a partially defrosted freezer. I won’t get into a discussion here on the pros and cons of built-in refrigerator/freezers, but let’s just say that they’re like a spoiled super model in a factory: nice on the eyes but not a great worker.

So with loads of food thawing out before me, I got to work separating items into groups: items still frozen that could go in the other freezer (yes, I actually have another one in the garage); items that should go in the fridge to be used later this week; items to toss out immediately (I mean, if we haven’t eaten that 6-month old bean soup yet, we probably won’t); and items to cook pronto.

Now going through the entire contents of your freezer can be an eye opening voyage into the workings of your personality. For instance, I realized as I chucked and stored that although I have a depression-era conscience (I bag and save all sorts of pastas, soups, and stews like a gourmand pack rat) I also have an 80s-era mentality when it comes to using said food (I don’t like leftovers so mostly buy new stuff and ignore what I’ve kept).

In the midst of my sorting, I realized that I also have a problem with the amount of frozen peas that I buy. Now I am not being hyperbolic here. I had 7 bags of frozen peas in my freezer: some unopened; others partially eaten; and others that had been used as ice packs. I tossed the ice pack freezers and then saved the others.  But once I was through combining the savable contents of my in-house freezer with my garage freezer, it was all too quickly apparent that I wouldn’t be able to fit everything. And so, in a moment of frugality (I mean, how could I throw out those 2 perfectly good bags of unopened peas that wouldn’t fit) I set to work making pea soup for lunch.

So now, although my in-house freezer is still on the fritz (after two repairmen visits), I have a new recipe for a lovely pea soup that is perfect for a rainy day. It’s fast, easy, and even uses leftover mashed potatoes, if you have those on hand. If not, you can plop in more butter and whole milk for creaminess.

So here it is.


Broken Freezer Frozen Pea Soup

Makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

1 bag frozen peas

1 Tbsp  olive oil

1 Tbsp butter

1/2 onion finely chopped

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup leftover mashed potatoes or the inside of a  baked potato

1/4 cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste


Preparation:

1. Heat oil and butter in a medium-sized pot.

2. Add onions and cook until translucent.

3. Add peas and cook for a few minutes.

4. Add broth and simmer for five minutes.

5. Add mashed potatoes and milk and mix thoroughly.

6. Puree ingredients thoroughly using either a hand or stand blender.

7. Salt and pepper to taste.

Related Posts

Fresh Spring Pea Soup
Roasted Cream of Corn Chowder with Parsley Pistou
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

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