Lemon marmalade is not always readily available in the grocery store. Some regions such as California in the United States have the perfect weather to grow lemons all year round and other regions and countries must for the correct season.
A basic lemon marmalade recipe only needs three ingredients, but it is easy to adapt the recipe and add your preferred herbs and spices. Make sure you have a sugar thermometer available as marmalade and jam must be cooked to a precise temperature. Keep in mind too that it takes longer to make lemon marmalade compared to other marmalades.
What are the best lemons for marmalade?
As with most fruit and vegetables there are different varieties of lemons. Eureka lemons are the most common and easily found in a grocery store. They have a thick skin and are sour with a tangy flavour. Lisbon lemons have a thinner skin and are smoother with a more subtle finish. There are also Meyer lemons, which are not really lemons, but a cross between lemons, mandarins or oranges. They don’t have seeds and are sweeter and less bitter compared to a regular lemon.
Choosing your lemons is a personal affair. Take time to decide whether you like your marmalade more tangy, sweet, bitter or more subtle in flavour. Whatever you decide, any of the lemon varieties mentioned will turn into great marmalade.
Use of pectin
Citrus fruit naturally contains pectin in the peel, membranes and seeds. Adding commercial pectin is only required if you do not want a runny jam. The quantity of pectin can be altered according to your personal preference. A high pectin content will make the jam more solid. We personally add some agar agar instead of pectin.
Assess the texture
If you have a sugar thermometer, 104°C is the perfect temperature to cook jam and marmalade.
There is a manual way to test the doneness of your jam. Before you start cooking, place a small plate in the freezer. Once your jam is cooked, spoon a small amount onto the chilled plate. The jam cools quickly and thickens instantly. Use your fingertip to press into the jam. When cooked right, you should see the surface wrinkle. If it doesn’t, simmer the jam for another 5 to 10 minutes.
- Wash the lemons and put them in a large saucepan or cooking pot with 2.5 litres of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 ½ hours or until the skin of the lemons are tender and easy to pierce with a bamboo stick.Remove the soft lemons from the saucepan and cool. Keep the cooking liquid.
- When the lemons are cold enough, cut them into thin strips and remove the pips.
- Put the lemon pips in a small tied up muslin cloth or a tea strainer. We will use them while cooking the jam.
- Measure 1.5 litres of the lemon cooking liquid, add the sugar and bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar.
- Add the lemon strips and thyme and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the skin becomes translucent.Remove the lemon strips and boil to reduce the cooking liquid for 20 minutes.
Assess the texture.
- If not thick enough, simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes or add the agar agar into the liquid and boil for 1 minute.Return the lemon strips to the saucepan and leave for 10 minutes, gently stir.
- Pour the marmalade into sterilised jars and seal straight away.