Before I put Summer of Funner to rest, there was one Love-to-Do List item that I just had to make. I’ve always wanted to make a marmalade to sigh for, most particularly, a Lemon Ginger Champagne Marmalade. I didn’t even really know if such a thing had ever existed before. I only knew that I wanted to taste one, and then, if it was good, to make enough for the family to spread all over everything. Mission accomplished!
After reading and cooking from Elizabeth Field’s wonderful Marmalade for some time now [her tomato marmalade recipe, by the way, is worth the purchase of the book], I’ve come up wtih one stellar recipe of my own! The script below is a bit of a mashup of two of Field’s recipes: her Shredded Lemon Marmalade, and her Lemon and Ginger with Mint Marmalade, with my own additions of champagne and Elderflower Cordial [if you don’t have the latter, you can either buy some from Ikea or a specialty store, make some, or just add St. Germain].
Now, there are certainly easier ways to prep your marmalade than the one in this recipe. The quickest way about it seems to be to half the citrus, remove the seeds, slice the citrus as thin as possible, and then chop it up in small bits or pulse it in the food processor. Of course, with that much pith in the pot, you’re bound to have quite a tart marma! [Oh, but I want that to be my new nickname!] My preferred method, however, is to peel the rind with a vegetable peeler, slice it into glorious, slivery match-sticks, then remove the pith from the body of the citrus with a knife, remove the seeds, and pulverize the remaining pulp and thinner membranes and juices to add back into the marmy.
Of course, the wonderful thing about citrus marmalades, lemon, in particular, is the amount of natural pectin the citrus contains. So you can cook these babies without adding store-bought powdered or liquid pectins. And, to make the most out of the pectin in a citrus marmalade, you can conserve all of those pits and piths and membranes, pack them into a little jelly bag, and soak them with your rinds. What a wonderful way to use the entirety of the fruit!
All in all, it takes about 4-5 hours to make the marmalade below. Although, at least 90 minutes of that time is just waiting for the rinds to soak on a low boil, which makes for a lovely break, and another 40 is really just stirring and watching. So, yes, “marma day” can be a commitment. However, I got 13 quarter pints out of this little powerhouse of a recipe! Now, that’s something! Think of all the holiday presents, anytime presents, me-on-a-Monday-with-a-crusty-loaf-presents! And, of course, as a reward for your time, “marmies” everywhere can treat themselves to the rest of the champagne in the bottle!
- 11 Small Lemons, or, a 2lb bag of small organic lemons
- [This yields about 2 cups slivered peel, 2 cups pulverized pulp and juices, and 2 cups pith, pits, and membrane]
- 1 2-in piece of fresh ginger
- [This yields about 1/3 cup peeled, fine-diced ginger]
- Cheesecloth or Jellybag & Twine
- Water [about 8 cups]
- Granulated Sugar, about 6-8 cups [We used about 6 1/2 cups]
- 1/2 cup Champagne, Prosecco, or Sparkling Wine [Optional]
- 1/4 cup Elderflower Syrup [Optional]
- Scrub the lemons well. [We scrub ours in a tub of water with a bit of vinegar added.]
- Trim the tips off of the lemons with a knife and place the tips in the jelly bag or on a large double circle of cheesecloth.
- Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in large swathes or in wide corkscrews, leaving as much of the white pith as possible on the bodies of the lemons.
- Slice the lemon peels into thin slivers. [We had 2 generous cups]
- Place the peels in a medium-sized, thick-bottomed saucepan.
- Peel the ginger, discarding the peel, and dice as finely as possible. [We had a scant 1/3 cup fine-diced ginger]
- Place the finely diced ginger in the saucepan.
- Over a sieve placed over a bowl, slice the pith and outside membrane away from the lemons, allowing the juice to fall through the sieve and into the bowl.
- Pour the juice into the saucepan.
- Place the pith and outside membranes into the jelly bag or cheesecloth.
- On a large cutting board with a rim for catching run-off or with a cutting board set into a rimmed pan, slice the lemons in thin slices and chop into smaller pieces, transferring any large, thick membrane and any and all of the seeds to the jelly bag or cheesecloth.
- Place the chopped lemon segments and all of the juice from the cutting board into the saucepan. [This was about 2 cups.]
- Tie the jelly bag or circle of double cheesecloth full of lemon tips, pith, membranes, and seeds with a piece of twine, and place it into the saucepan.
- Add about 2 quarts [8 cups] of water to the pan.
- Bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil.
- Then, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 90 minutes until the mixture has reduced by half and the lemon peels are quite soft.
- Remove the jelly bag or cheesecloth parcel and squeeze the juice into the saucepan. You may now discard or compost the contents of the bag.
- Place a heatproof bowl on a food scale and set to tare.
- Weigh the lemon mixture [noting the weight, of course] and then return it to the saucepan.
- Measure an equal amount of sugar as that of the lemon mixture. [We ended up with about 6 1/2 cups of sugar.]
- Return the lemon mixture to a medium heat and gradually incorporate the sugar until it is all dissolved.
- [At this point, you will also want to prepare a boiling water bath for canning and ensure that your jars are clean and sterilized]
- Bring the marmalade to a boil and then cook rapidly over medium heat for about 20 minutes. [It's a good idea to put a candy thermometer in the pot now, to start keeping track of things.] .
- Reduce the heat of the marmalade to a medium low and simmer, stirring only infrequently, for another 25-45 minutes, or until the candy thermometer reaches just about 220F. [You can also do the gel test by placing a small bit of the marmalade on a saucer that's been sitting in the freezer to see if it begins to skin over. Please note: ours gelled nicely on a plate at 210F! And we have kept it shelf stable for 4 months. But, to be absolutely safe, especially for gift giving, 220F is the way to go! ]
- Remove the mixture from the heat.
- Skim the foam off of the marmalade.
- [Optional] Add the champagne and stir quickly to incorporate. The mixture will bubble up and foam!
- [Optional] Add the elderflower syrup and stir quickly to incorporate.
- Allow the marmalade to cool just slightly, about 3-5 minutes, before skimming the foam again and placing into clean, warm, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-in headspace.
- Seal the jars and process in a hot water bath for 6 minutes.
- Cool jars completely.
- Again, please note, the general temp for marmalades to set is 220F/104C! [Though, we have successfully prepared and stored marmalade set at 210F and canned with the boiling water method as shelf stable over a 4 month period!] You can also do the gel test by placing a small bit of the marmalade on a saucer that's been sitting in the freezer to see if it begins to skin over.
- It's all good! If the marmalade is runny, simply reboil and reprocess. But note, it may take up to a week for marmalade to fully set. If the marmalade is overcooked and becomes too solid, simply heat it a bit before use.