Thursday, May 3, 2012

Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Marmalade

Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Marmalade
I'm seriously thinking I need some sort of therapy. It simply can't be normal to get this excited over produce. Other people see fruit. I see glistening jars of goodness filling my basement shelves.

To some extent, this propensity of mine toward impulse produce buying is problematic. I have a (more than) full-time job. I have a home and a family to care for. I have responsibilities. But once those seasonal wonders are in my house, staring at me from the kitchen counter, I cannot rest until I turn them into something delicious. What can I do, but to keep stirring up something fun in the kitchen and sharing it with you here on In a Jam?

For some reason, I've been on a bit of a citrus kick lately. First, there was the key lime curd. Then, the Meyer lemons appeared in my local market and I scooped up three bags. For the uninitiated, Meyer lemons are thought to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. The skin is smoother than that of a traditional lemon and is a deep yellow to almost orange color. The peel of a Meyer lemon is generally thinner and the juice is somewhat sweeter, with less acidity than normal lemons. All of these traits make them a wonderful choice for culinary experimentation.

The first thing I made was a Meyer lemon curd, using the exact recipe I shared on the blog last week, only with lemons instead of limes. Even though the Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter, they still had plenty of acid content to make a delicious curd.

Then I decided I absolutely had to do something that would take full advantage of the amazing color of the Meyer lemon peel. An obvious choice? Marmalade. But not just any marmalade. A Meyer lemon marmalade with a touch of vanilla bean that would play beautifully off the tart/sweet of the citrus. I think you're really going to enjoy this recipe. The end result is a delicious lemon preserve with the exotic taste of real vanilla and pieces of orange-colored peel that taste like candy.

Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Marmalade
(Original recipe appeared in Bon Apetit, although I've made several changes here, including adding instructions for water bath canning.)

6 to 7 Meyer lemons (approximately 1 1/2 pounds)
5 cups water
4 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
pinch of salt

Cut lemons in half lengthwise.
Use a sharp paring knife to cut out the center membrane (the part where all the sections meet) and as many of the seeds as possible.
Remove and discard end pieces, then slice the rest of the lemon halves in very thin pieces crosswise. Discard any remaining seeds.
Pack enough lemon slices and any juice into a large measuring cup to measure 2 1/2 cups.
Put the measured slices and juice into a large, nonreactive pot. Add the 5 cups of water.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to stand, uncovered overnight.
The next day, measure out 5 1/2 cups of the lemon/juice mixture. (You can discard any extra).
Put the measured amount back in the same large, nonreactive pot. Add all of the sugar.
Split the half vanilla bean the long way. Scrape out the seeds and put those in the pot, along with the half bean itself.
Add a pinch of salt.
Marmalade mixture boiling
Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture reaches 230F on a candy thermometer, or use the plate test from my Tips and Tricks section. At higher altitudes, such as here in Colorado, you'll need to adjust the temperature down somewhat. Reaching the final jelling point can take anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes.
Fill hot, prepared canning jars to 1/4" headspace. Process in boiling water bath for 25 minutes. Turn off heat, remove cover of canner and allow to sit for 5 more minutes before removing jars. Reprocess or refrigerate and use any jars that have not sealed properly within 12 to 24 hours.

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