I have no idea why I decided to make Lime Marmalade today. The idea popped into my mind yesterday though I don’t know why. I think the idea first took seed last Friday as we were sitting at our regular breakfast place, waiting for our food to arrive. On the table were those little packets of jelly, one of the flavors being Orange Marmalade. I’ve seen it there many, many times but that day for some reason it caught my eye and stuck with me. The funny thing is, I don’t even really care for marmalade all that much. I don’t dislike it, it’s just not my first, second, or even third choice when choosing a preserve to slather on toast or bread. Raspberry jam is always my first choice (well actually Spicy Raspberry Jam is even better), along with strawberry, and apricot, though my wife makes a killer spiced grape jelly. Again, though, I am not overly particular, and can’t remember coming across a preserve that I couldn’t stand.
For whatever reason I latched on to marmalade this week, I knew I didn’t want to make orange. It was either grapefruit or lime. I love the flavor of both, but ultimately decided I was in the mood for something lime flavored. I have made numerous jellies and jams before, but can’t remember ever making marmalade so I headed to my bookshelves and the internet to study up on making marmalade and to develop a recipe.
I have found 2 schools of thought when it comes to making marmalade. Some recipes call for a 3 day process where you boil the citrus in water for 10 15 minutes then let it sit overnight, repeat, and then on the third day you finish the marmalade. The other school of thought is to do it all at once, but with a long cooking time to ensure that the peel is tender and that all the pectin is extracted. I chose to do the one day method, though in the near future I want to try the other method and compare the two.
I was very happy with the way my first batch of marmalade turned out. Sweet, tart, with just a bit of a bitter edge this marmalade makes a great spread for toast, English muffins, scones (especially berry studded ones) and a whole host of other “breads.” And I expect it will make a great ingredient in a whole host of other dishes and applications.
One thing about this marmalade; it has a slightly soft set to it. It definitely is not as thick or as tight as many jellies and jams you might be used to eating. That’s the risk of not using store bought pectin. If you want a firmer set you can try adding some liquid pectin, towards the end of cooking, but I rather like the slightly looser set of this preserve.
2 pounds limes, washed under warm water to remove any wax if not using organic limes
4 cups water
3 pounds sugar
Zest all the limes. The easiest way to do this is to invest $7-$10 in a citrus zester. They come in handy quite often so are well worth the few dollars. If you don’t have a zester the thinly peel the limes with a peeler trying to avoid as much of the white pith as possible. After peeling the limes cut them into very fine strips. If you had a zester, you would have been done 15 minutes ago!
Cut the limes in half and squeeze all the juice into a nonreactive pot along with the lime zest. Finely chop the remains of the limes, including all the membranes and pith. You can also roughly chop them and put them in a food processor to finish the job, just don’t turn it into a puree. Place the finely chopped lime into a cheesecloth or muslin jelly bag.
Tie it closed and toss into the pot along with the juice, zest and the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours. During the last half hour remove the lid. Remove the pulp filled cloth and carefully squeeze out all the liquid that remains the in pulp. Add the sugar to the liquid in the pot, increase heat, bring to a boil and cook until a thermometer reaches 220. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Remove all scum that has floated to the top and pour into jars. Cover, and if not processing, place into the refrigerator once they have slightly cooled. If you want to process the marmalade then place in a bath of boiling water that comes at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars and process for 10 minutes. Remove from bath and allow to cool. Check seals on jars and if one didn’t seal properly, move to the refrigerator.