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I’ll be honest…

…I make it up as I go.

I have many citrus. When I mentioned to a friend I was preserving lemons and needed some extra juice, he came to the aid of the party with litres of frozen lemon juice (now sorbet and lemon butter) and a bag full of dezested frozen lemons.

Firm and frosty!

Then the mystery citrus in the front yard produced its annual crop of two warty not-lemons.

Qua?

Then the meyer lemon out the front proudly made a cluster of fruit — its first crop, bless it.

Brave little tree!

Not to be outdone, the lemon in the front mulch pile orchard laid a fat yellow fruit as well.

The orchard's glorious crop!

To recap: some Meyer lemons, a maybe-Meyer lemon, two mystery not-lemons and a sack of dezested, defrosted lemons. I have many citrus and a heart full of love for all my tangy orphans. In an otherwise uneventful morning at work, I was seized , SEIZED, with a need for lemon marmalade. Yellow, golden…beautiful. A wholesome and nourishing celebration of the unsuspected warmth of winter sunlight. Can you picture a spoonful glowing with tangy joy? That won’t happen. Because I will eat it from the jar, at night, with my thumb.

Come to me, citrus...

My previous efforts at marmalade were enormously satisfying: boil whole fruit until mooshy, mush further in a blender, then reboil with sugar until you have marmalade. Badda bing, badda splat. So that’s what I did. Qualms at the start:

  • I’m a little hazy on the ratio of fruit to sugar, so Imma wing it.
  • Half a dozen lemons without their rinds? Hm, rinds are kind of important in marmalade. Ah, but it’s okay: the mystery citrus from the front yard have loads of rind! That will compensate. Also, I’ll pop in this orange with the biggest navel I’ve ever seen. There, lots of rind!
  • No crystallised ginger this time. Boo! Thought about making my own, but frankly: can’t be arsed.
  • This does not make me a bad person.

Followup:

  • After googling “marmalade” ratios without much satisfaction, I decided on the good old “bit less” sugar rule. I measured the boiled and puréed fruit and had about 4½ cups, so I added just shy of 4 cups of sugar. And then I tasted it anyway and it was spot on. Added a pinch of salt and a shot of Tanqueray for good measure.
  • Rind = plentiful. Check out how much rind and pith you get on our mystery warty non-lemons:

    Such zest! Such pith!

    I think they’re citrons, which is fine by me.

  • Ginger: absent and not missed.
  • Buring the bottoms of all your citrus fruit is bad, but if you cut the burned bits off, the flavour doesn’t seem to stain the rest of the fruit, so you can proceed around them. Burning fruit in the bottom of a pot really sucks, though: I recommend skipping this step.

If I was going to summarise this as a recipe, I guess it would look like this:
Take these things…

  • One orange with a helluva navel. Looked like a big orange rose stuck on the end of the fruit.
  • Three lemons with skin
  • Seven lemons without skin, frozen and defrosted
  • Two citrons
  • 4 cups of white sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • A pinch of salt
  • Shot of Tanqueray

…and do this…

  • Boil the fruit with skins on in a pot full of water — enough water so they float. Boil them until they’re starting to get tender, then add the skinless lemons and boil until the fruit with skins is soft.
  • Drain and let cool. When cool, purée! Skins, pith and all: if you can be bothered fishing out the pips, more power to you. If you can’t, well, they’ll add some valuable pectin.
  • Put your puréed fruit back in the pot with the salt, sugar, gin and water. Put a saucer or breadplate or a metal spoon in the If you want to add any other fruit juices or spices, now’s the time to do it. Bring the lot to the boil and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  • When it’s starting to look hella thick, grab that saucer (or whatever) from the freezer and put a little marmalade on it, then shove it in the fridge for a bit. After you’ve pegged out the washing, check the marmalade: it’s ready if it’s set with a skin. Finger poke it and if it wrinkles, you’re good to go.
  • Pour into all those jars you remembered to sterilise at the beginning. Put the lids on while it’s still hot.

Win.

Wahoo, I’ve got loads! Slightly sour, slightly bitter, totally awesome. I’ve got about 7 cups’s worth: mostly in jars, but also smeared on things and in a pouring jug and in my tum-tum. I was thinking of making a marmalade tart or using it as a glaze on biscuits or something…but I think I’m just going to eat it. Viva la marmalade!

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