Last year, right around now, I already had several dozen jars full of different kinds of jams, syrups, sauces, and what-have-you. This year it's been way too hot and so instead of canning the gorgeous fruit, I'd been eating it straight from the fridge. Every thought to turn on the stove or the oven is cross referenced against the time it would take for my house temperature to recover, and 9 times out of 10 I decide to make a salad or assemble something random out of whatever is in the fridge.
All was going just fine until I ran into Meyer Lemons. Around here, these babies are hard to find and when you do see them, they're pricey, so when I found a whole bunch of them on sale I had to get them.
I'd had this jam tagged to make at some point in the distant future for just such a windfall as this and so despite the insane temperatures I pulled up the recipe and made marmalade.
I had picked up a small bag of lavender during a short trip to New York last year and I'd been hoarding it for something special, so I knew I had everything on hand. On the second day the piping jam was safely canned, the loud pings as the lids sealed quieted down, and I was left with a little extra to spread on toast. It's thick, a bit chunky, not too sweet, only a little bit bitter, delicately floral and utterly delicious! Definitely worth the wait.
Meyer Lemon Lavender Marmalade
Recipe adapted from Local Kitchen. Also, keep in mind that this will take at least 2 days.
2 lb lemons, I used Meyer, but regular will work just fine
1/4 cup + 2 tsp dried culinary lavender, divided
5 cups sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 Tbsp vanilla
On the first day:
1. Scrub lemons really well and slice into 8 wedges lengthwise (she recommended a serrated knife and it worked like a charm). Remove seeds and reserve in a small bowl. Thinly slice sections, cross-wise, and transfer to a large measuring cup, trying to save as much juice as possible. This will take you a long time and make your fingers very pruny; be sure you have no cuts on your fingers because it will sting. Measure amount of lemons and juice (I had about 5 cups).
2. Measure out an equal amount of filtered water into a medium saucepan. Add lemon seeds and 1/4 cup lavender; bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and steep for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours.
3. Strain lavender water into a measuring cup, squeezing the lavender buds to get out all the liquid, then discard seeds and lavender. Add additional filtered water to bring volume back up to original amount if necessary. Return lavender water to the saucepan, add lemons + juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, skimming foam if necessary. Turn off heat, allow to come to room temperature, then cover and allow to sit at room temperature overnight.
On the second day:
1. Prepare your canner, jars and lids so that everything is ready to go.
2. Measure lemon mixture and transfer to a large saucepan or small stockpot. Add salt. Measure out sugar to your taste (I don't like my jam too sweet, and all the citrus means that I can safely cut the sugar a bit, so I only added 5 cups, but you're welcome to add more if you like your marmalade sweeter. Most recipes suggest a 1:1 ratio between lemon mixture and sugar). Add sugar in 1/2 cup increments, allowing the marmalade to come to a boil in between additions. Once all the sugar is in, add in the vanilla and boil, stirring frequently until the marmalade reaches the gel point, which should only be a few more minutes. The suggested temp was 220F at sea level, which is where I am, but I stopped it at 210F and still got a very firm set. Be sure to taste a cooled sample of marmalade during cooking to adjust sugar, if desired.
3. Transfer to a large, heat-safe bowl and allow marmalade to sit, cooling, for a minute or two; it should start gelling quite quickly. Stir down the pieces of fruit, and stir in the remaining 2 tsp of dried lavender. Fill hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch headspace, wipe rims, affix lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Note: I had doubled the original recipe and ended up with four 8oz jars and enough to fill one 4oz jar.