Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Lemon That Tastes More Like an Orange

So, I'm not much of a citrus fruit person.  Nothing against them, and of course, I do use them on occasion for cooking, but I have this strange little topical allergy to anything acidic.  I break out if I get any of the juice on me, so I have to be careful and use a juicer.

Anyway, you're not HERE to HEAR about my odd little ailments.  My point is that I never gave much thought to things like marmalade.  But I kept hearing chefs who were extolling the virtues of Meyer lemons, which are sweeter than regular lemons and have a bit of an orange flavor to them.  So I was intrigued enough to go hunting for recipes, and I ran across this one.  And truthfully, I'm kind of mad about the stuff.

The Meyers don't have a long growing season, and they're usually available in this area in the late fall and early winter months.  The first time I made this, I went strictly by the directions, just making thin slices and throwing everything in but the seeds.  This year I wanted to see if it would make any difference to cut away just the skin and leave the pith of the fruit after juicing it.  Truthfully, the only real difference I could tell was that it was runnier because I would have needed way more lemons that what I had bought to make up for the missing 'bulk'.  So next time I'll go back to the recipe as it was originally written.

The vanilla bean adds a nice note to this.  I am especially fond of it slathered on a bagel with mascarpone cheese.

Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade
from Bon Appétit

1 1/4 pounds Meyer lemons
5 cups water
5 1/2 cups (about) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Pinch of salt

Working on large plate to catch juice, cut lemons in half lengthwise, then very thinly crosswise. Discard seeds. Pack enough lemons and any juice to measure 2 1/2 cups. Transfer to large nonreactive pot. Add 5 cups water; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand uncovered overnight.

Measure lemon mixture (there should be about 5 1/2 cups). Return to same pot. Add equal amount of sugar (about 5 1/2 cups). Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Add pinch of salt. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Attach clip-on candy thermometer.

Maintaining active boil and adjusting heat to prevent boiling over, cook until temperature reaches 230°F, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to jars. Cover and chill. (Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Keep refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.) Makes about 4 ½ cups.

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