A month or so ago, my two sisters and I took a quick weekend road trip to Massachusetts to visit an ailing aunt of ours. On the way home, we had to stop at Trader Joe’s in Portland. It is about 3 plus hours from our home, so whenever we go through Portland, it’s always a necessary stop. I have been a few times, but I was never very impressed. So, I told myself I’d just walk in with a basket and maybe a grab a few things if they caught my eye. Ha, yeah right. I ended up following my sister, the pro shopper there, around and filled at least half of her shopping cart. I was super pumped to find some freeze-dried berries (great for those cakes!), cheap, good wine among many other things. I also came across some Meyer lemons. Now, I don’t know about you, but I actually have no idea when those are in season. I know it’s in the winter, and I know they aren’t available for very long. I am not sure if I just miss them in our local store, or they don’t stock them. So, when I saw them, I immediately grabbed a couple bags, with no actual idea what I would do with them. When I got home, I stuck them in the back of the fridge, in hopes they would last longer while I decided what to do with them.
Well, there they sat for at least a month. I couldn’t decide what I should do with them. Should I make a sweet treat? I looked at recipes, but didn’t find anything that really got me excited. Then, I thought about preserving them. Because who doesn’t love a good jam or marmalade? To be honest, I think this is the first marmalade I’ve ever made. I am more of a jam or jelly person. So I thought it was high-time I try some marmalade.
So, moving to this marmalade. I thought the strawberries would be a great balance with the lemon, because they always work well together. This marmalade isn’t too sweet, despite the amount of sugar in it (I actually reduced the original amount). I love the little pieces of strawberries and basically-candied lemon peels. This is a great spread to stir into yogurt, toast or vanilla ice cream. I won’t judge if you eat it with a spoon. It’s definitely that good. So, if you have some Meyer lemons rolling around in your fridge and you are unsure of what to do with them, try your hand at canning them! You can easily cut this recipe in half if you don’t have enough lemons, or don’t want as many jars sitting in your pantry. But, I think you’ll regret not making more. A little jar of summer days in the winter.
Recipe adapted from Simple Bites
- 1 1/2 lbs. fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds meyer lemons, washed
- 6-7 cups granulated sugar
- 3 cups water
- Slice the the ends off the Meyer lemons. Cut the lemons in half, from end to end. Using a sharp paring knife, cut out the pith and any seeds, making sure to reserve the pith and seeds. Thinly slice each lemon into half moons. Place the sliced lemons in a large bowl. Pour in the 3 cups of water. Place the reserved pith and seeds in a small cheesecloth square. Tie the cheesecloth square into a baggie so nothing can fall out, then place in the bowl with the lemons and water. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1-3 hours.
- Meanwhile, place the chopped strawberries in a separate bowl. Stir in 6 cups of sugar until the berries are coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1-3 hours.
- When you are ready, place 8 half-pint canning jars on a rack in your canning pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the jars by at least 3 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Making sure the jars boil for 10 minutes to be properly sterilized. If they boil long before your marmalade is ready, turn the heat down to low. Have ready the lids and bands.
- Discard the cheesecloth baggie of the pith and seeds. In a large dutch oven, or heavy bottomed pot, stir together the lemons and water mixture with the strawberry and sugar mixture. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Place a small plate in the freezer (this will be for the plate test to check if the marmalade is done). Let the marmalade boil for about 40 minutes, stirring often. Taste and add another cup of sugar if isn't sweet enough for your liking. To check if the marmalade is set enough, place a small spoonful on the frozen plate. Run your finger through it. If it leaves a line where your finger went through, then it is ready. If it runs back together, let cook for another 5-10 minutes before checking again. Also, the temperature of the marmalade will be 220ºF when it is ready.
- Remove the jars from the water canner and place on a kitchen towel on the counter. Fill the jars with the marmalade, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jar with a damp dishcloth to make sure they are clean. Fit the lids and bands on the jars, making sure not to tighten them down too much. Place the jars back on the rack in the water canner. Carefully Submerge the jars and cover the pot. Bring back to a boil and boil the jars for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the jars to a clean kitchen towel on the counter. Let cool for 24 hours before moving. To test if the jars have sealed after 24 hours, press the center down of each top. If it pushes up and down, then it hasn't sealed. Refrigerate any unsealed jars. Label and store the sealed jars for at least a year in a cool, dry room.