Like many fellow gardeners, I have a love of cooking and especially creating jams, preserves, salsas and chutneys. I love the act of combining a few fresh ingredients with some sugar, vinegar or oil and turning them into something completely different which can be stored away and enjoyed weeks or even months down the line.
While I gain the most enjoyment from preserving my own allotment produce, sometimes this just isn’t possible. This is the case with marmalade. Unfortunately, one of the downsides of living in the UK is that I don’t have a way of growing a steady supply of my own oranges, lemons or limes, so I will have to leave that task to people in more favourable climates!
However, though I would rather be using my own fruit, I am certainly not going to pass by the chance to create one of my favourite toast-toppers! In the past I have been creative with lemon & ginger marmalade and Seville orange marmalade. I did have to wait six months to create the Seville marmalade as I did not realise that Seville oranges are only available in February/March – which wasn’t great when I decided in August that I wanted to make it! It was certainly worth the wait though, if anything those 6 months just upped the anticipation and the final product did not let me down.
Today though, I am going to share my experience on creating lemon and lime marmalade, taking you through the individual steps on how I made it. It is a fun thing to do and pretty easy too. Just bear in mind that the fruit does soak for 24 hours and so you will need to plan ahead with this recipe, you can’t just knock it up on a whim!
So without further ado, here is the recipe and details for how to make this ever so moreish, tangy lemon & lime creation.
- Chopping board
- Sharp knife
- Measuring jug
- Muslin bag / square
- Baking tray
- Sugar thermometer
- Jams jars and lids (sterilised)
- 454g (1lb) Limes
- 225g (8oz) Lemons
- 1.4kg (3lb) Granulated sugar
- 1.75L (3 pints) Water
Begin by juicing all of the fruit and mixing it with the water in a large pan. Once all of the fruit has been juiced remove the membranes and any pips from the fruit, but leave the pith attached to the peel.
Do not discard these membranes and pips, instead you need to finely chop the membranes and place these and the pips on to a muslin square. Tie the muslin up with string so that it is securely holding the pips and membranes and then add this to the pan containing the juice and water.
Next, finely chop all of the lemon and lime peel. Make sure you chop it into very fine strips as it does need to be in very thin strips to ensure your final, finished marmalade is the best it can be. It does take time and effort to complete this step, but it is well worth doing it properly! Once you have chopped all the peel add it to the pan with the juice, water and muslin bag.
Leave the pan containing the juice, water, peel and muslin bag for 24 hours as this allows the fruit to soak. After 24 hours bring the pan to the boil and allow the contents to gently simmer for 2 hours.
Check on the pan after 2 hours. The peel should now be soft and the volume of liquid in the pan should have reduced by about a third. Take the pan off the heat and remove the muslin bag. Place the muslin bag in a fine sieve over the pan and using the back of a spoon or pair of tongs, press firmly on the bag so that any liquid it is holding passes through the sieve back into the pan.
Warm the sugar on a baking tray in a low oven set at 140c (275f). Once the sugar is warm to the touch add it to the pan containing the juice and peel.
Bring the pan to a rolling boil. If you are using a sugar thermometer the marmalade needs to reach a temperature of 105c (222f). This is known as the setting point and it is crucial that the marmalade is brought correctly to this temperature as it ensures it will set correctly. If you do not get the temperature up to 105c then the marmalade will be too liquid and if you go over 105c the marmalade may be too solid once it has set.
If you do not have sugar thermometer then you can do something known as the “wrinkle test”. This involves placing a plate in the freezer to get it nice and cold. When the marmalade has been at a rolling boil for approximately 8 minutes you can test it for setting point. To do this, take the plate from the freezer and drop a few drops of marmalade onto the plate. Wait a few seconds and then slowly push your finger through the marmalade. If the marmalade wrinkles as you push your finger through it and feels like it is starting to set then you have reached setting point. You can then be confident in taking the pan off the heat and moving on to the next step. If the marmalade still feels like liquid and does not wrinkle then continue to boil it for another couple of minutes and then repeat the “wrinkle test” again. Do this as many times as is necessary until you do see the wrinkles in the marmalade.
Once your marmalade has reached setting point use a spoon to remove any scum from the surface of the marmalade. You then need to leave the marmalade to one side for 10 minutes to allow it to cool slightly. Leaving the marmalade to cool before pouring it into the jars helps to ensure that the peel will be evenly distributed. If you jar it while it is still too hot the peel may all sink to the bottom of the jar, which we obviously don’t want!
Once the marmalade has cooled for 10 minutes, gently stir it so that the peel is evenly distributed. You should feel that the mixture is already getting thicker and starting to set. Pour the marmalade into warm, sterilised jam jars and apply a wax disc to the top of each jar. Then seal them tightly with the lids and leave them in an upright position to set.
Once the marmalade has cooled and set you can either use it immediately or store it in a cupboard until you are ready to enjoy it. Once the marmalade has been opened, it should be stored in the fridge.