|2010 Marin County Fair First Place Winner!|
So I was looking in the liquor cabinet, because that’s where I keep my canning supplies. (Honest.) Right up front was a bottle of Myers’s Rum. And sitting on my kitchen counter were a couple dozen Meyer lemons, of which I am blessed with a year-round supply. Myers’s Rum, Meyer lemons? Double Meyer Marmalade. True, it would be even better if the Misters Myers and Meyer — Fred and Frank, respectively — had gotten it together on the spelling of their surnames, but I tried a bunch of different names (“Fred and Frank’s Fabulous Fruit?” asked Stewart) and came back around to this one. Make mine a double.
I had no idea how much rum to add to my regular Meyer Lemon Marmalade recipe to get the right mix. I poked around on the Internet and saw folks adding a tablespoon of rum to this and a splash of rum to that, but what has a tablespoon of rum ever done for anyone, really? So I got scientific about it and added the amount that first popped into my head, which was half a cup — plus an extra tablespoon at the very end, which seemed to make a nice difference. By some divine grace, perhaps by the will of Fred and Frank, it turned out well. Half a cup gave the fruit a mild but discernible rum flavor. You could certainly bump it up a little if you wanted to, and next time around I may do just that. Might throw in some nutmeg, too. Also, if you prefer, you could go the other direction and make a basic, luscious Meyer Lemon Marmalade by leaving out the rum and vanilla bean — keepin’ it simple.
For inspiring this recipe and for introducing me to the following method of cutting fruit, I am indebted to Melinda at One Green Generation. Note that this is a two-day process; the mixture needs to sit in the fridge overnight.
Double Meyer Marmalade (Lemons & Rum)
2 1/2 pounds Meyer lemons
7 cups water
6 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Myers’s Rum, plus 1 tablespoon to add at the end
1 vanilla bean
1. Wash the lemons and then chill them for at least an hour. Chilling is optional, but it’s so much easier to thinly slice a cold lemon.
2. Slice each lemon along the stem and then cut a notch from the center to remove the pith, like so . . .
3. Hold each lemon over a bowl and run your thumb along the inside of the notch to remove the seeds. (This is my favorite part. I don’t know why; it’s just fun.) The bowl will catch the seeds and the juice, which you should set aside until Step 5.
4. Slice the lemons as thin as you like . . .
5. Put the lemon slices and the 7 cups of water into your heavy-bottomed, nonreactive pot. Strain the set-aside juice and seeds and add the juice to the pot, too . . .
6. Simmer for five minutes, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl, cover it, and let it stand in the fridge overnight.
1. Sterilize your jars.
2. Prepare the vanilla bean. (I used only one bean, but if you want a more intense vanilla flavor, I think two would work.) Slice the bean lengthwise and separate the seeds by running your thumb along the inside. I followed a tip I read that suggested mixing the seeds with about a cup of the recipe’s sugar, to ensure they’re evenly distributed when you add them to the mixture. It worked well for me, though I couldn’t say whether or not it’s really necessary to go to the extra trouble.
3. Simmer the lemons and water in your big pot until the peels are soft. (If they come apart easily when you try to separate them with a wooden spoon, they’re done.)
4. Add the sugar, 1/2 cup of rum, and the vanilla bean and seeds.
5. Boil the mixture until it reaches the jelling point. Be patient, because this takes some time — usually 30-40 minutes for me. I usually remove the mix from the heat as soon as it reaches 220F on my candy thermometer. I test it for jelling on a cold surface and then boil it a little longer only if I need to. I really don’t like overcooked Meyer Lemon Marmalade, so I always try to remove it just when it hits the jelling point, no later.
6. When the mixture is ready, stir in 1 tablespoon of rum. Remove the vanilla bean from the pot. I rinsed the bean and cut it up into smaller slices, then put one piece into each jar when I filled it.
7. Ladle the mixture into the sterilized jars and process. I left 1/4 inch head space and processed for ten minutes in a water bath canner.
Yields about 9 half-pints.
This marmalade won first place at the 2010 Marin County Fair! You can find an updated version of this recipe (along with my other ribbon winners) in H2H Prizewinning Recipes 2010.