A friend from Berry, NSW, has had a huge crop of lemons and limes this year, and I was lucky enough to share in the bounty with a small sackful. The limes had ripened beyond green and were – apart from the size – almost indistinguishable from the lemons. Their unwaxed skins help fill the kitchen with their clean, fresh smell. Citrus is one of my favourite scents.
I made lemon drizzle cake from Nigella.com – a great recipe, dead easy and moist as anything – and still had a bowlful left. Naturally, I made marmalade.
This is adapted direct from the always reliable Delia Smith.
- 12 large lemons and limes
- 3 lbs sugar
- Large preserving pan
- Muslin square or bag
- 5 large clean jars, sterilised.
I started by washing the fruit in warm water and gave them a light scrub – not so hard as to release too much precious oil from the skins, but enough to ensure any dirt was removed.
Next, halve and juice the fruits, then cut out any of the pith and membrane remaining so that you have peel and a little of the white pith, but not too much. Place all the removed pith, pips, membrane etc into the muslin and set to one side.
Slice the peel into thin strips – personal preference here – I like very thin, Mr C of course goes for chunky. I confess I did half by hand and then got bored and stuck the rest in the food processor. It will taste the same, it’s all about appearance. Isn’t everything?
Place the juice and slice skin into a large saucepan or preserving pan. Add 3 pints of water. Tie all the pithy, pippy stuff up in the muslin and secure with string tightly. Tie the string to the pan handle if you like, but ensure that it is bobbing about in the fruit. Bring to the boil then simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours until the skin is very soft. Squeeze the muslin bag occasionally – this is what will be providing the pectin, which will set your preserve. Remove the bag at the end of the cooking but do not throw it away.
At this point I chose to cool everything down and pop it in the fridge as it was a week night, late and I needed my bed. 2 days later I had plenty of time and finished it off with no ill effects. If you do split the process, make sure you warm up the boiled fruit before continuing.
The boiled fruit after 2 hours. Looks murky, but don’t worry!
Next – warm the sugar through in a moderate oven for 10 minutes – this helps it dissolve faster – then add to the pan of fruit. Stir constantly over moderate heat until all the sugar crystals are completely dissolved. Squeeze the muslin bag over the pan – it will ooze out the pectin.
The pectin squeezed from the bag is faintly translucent
Add as much as you can to the fruity mix. Then bring to a rapid boil and time off 15 minutes. My batch only needed 12, I could see from the skin forming as it bubbled away that it was ready early. The best way to test that it has set, is to blob some on a cold plate and wait a minute or two. Push it with your finger – if it is set correctly you’ll see a skin forming. If not, leave it longer and try again.
Once it’s setting, ladle into your hot, sterilised jars, then top with sterile lids. Mine was quite sharp, tangy and set to a jelly like consistency. Enjoy!