At the end of this post, I’ll announce the winner(s) of the Rangpur lime giveaway. Thank you for all the entries. I love how you all love the fruit.
First, though, I want to say something about “regular” limes — the dark green kind that most of us buy at the market. It was only about a year ago that I found out those limes aren’t ripe. Ripe limes are pale yellow. (And I don’t mean the sad, hard yellow of green limes left too long in the fridge. Those are no good.)
I’ve used green limes for marmalade; it’s common to do so because ripe limes are hard to find. But I just had my first opportunity to make marmalade with lovely ripe limes, and I’m afraid there’s no turning back. Green limes are comparatively chewy, and sometimes downright tough. More fully ripened limes will leave you wide eyed: When properly cooked in a marmalade, they are flavorful, tender, and in every way wonderful. (I should note that I’m talking about marmalades that use substantial slices of citrus peel, which are the kind I prefer. I’ve never made a lime marmalade with zested/grated/shredded green lime peel. If you have a green-lime marm recipe that yields a great texture, I hope you might leave a comment and share the source.)
I found my ripe limes in a giveaway basket at a local church where I was recently attending an event. I was mesmerized when I saw them, because I honestly didn’t know what they were. Each lime was almost perfectly round, a little bigger than a golf ball, with soft, full-moon yellow skin. I picked one up and scratched it with my fingernail. The unmistakeable, pungent scent of lime shot straight through to the back of my skull. I restrained myself and pocketed only three of them, but now I kind of wish I’d dumped the entire contents of the bowl into my bag. There was no one else around, but still — it was church, you know?
If you have a good source for ripe limes, I hope you’ll say what it is — though that might be like sharing a secret blackberry picking patch and I’d understand if you didn’t want to. I would like to grown my own. (That is perhaps a naive wish; see the photo of my tiny tree, below.) Other ideas for finding them include contacting a quality citrus grower who might ship them ripe, or talking to a specialty citrus vender at your farmers market. I plan to do the latter this weekend.
Anyway. The soft, porous skin of these limes reminded me so much of Meyer lemons that I thought I could easily combine them — no need to cook the two types of fruit separately — to make a small batch of sweet-tart marmalade. So that’s what I did, and here’s how it went . . .
Meyer Lemon Lime Marmalade
1 pound Meyer lemons, sliced thick (at least 1/4″)
1/2 pound ripe (pale yellow) Bearss limes, sliced thin (about 1/8″)
4 1/2 cups filtered water
Pinch sea salt
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon Cointreau (optional)
1. Slice the fruit as described in How to Slice Citrus Fruit for Marmalade. Strain the left over juice (the post about slicing fruit explains this) and set it aside. Also, retain a small handful of the pithy centers and use them to make a “pith bag.” That is, dunk a piece of cheesecloth or other clean linen in boiling water and then use it to bind up the pith, tying it off so it makes a little bag.
2. Put the fruit slices, strained juice, pith bag, filtered water, and salt into a large, nonreactive saucepan. Bring the water to a boil and immediately reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Transfer the contents of the pot (including the pith bag) to a glass or ceramic bowl, cover, and let rest at room temperature for 4-6 hours. (Try not to let these soft-skinned fruits soak longer, because they may get mushy. I like to prepare the fruit in the morning and finish the job later in the day. If you think you won’t be able to get back to them so quickly, keep the bowl in the fridge.)
4. After the fruit has soaked, sterilize your jars and put 5 metal teaspoons on a plate in the freezer to test the marmalade for doneness later.
5. Transfer the fruit slices and liquid to a large, nonreactive jam pan. Give the pith bag a squeeze and remove it from the mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce it to a simmer. Simmer until the fruit slices are tender, about 5-10 minutes. (If a slice easily comes apart when you press it against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon, the fruit is ready.)
6. Add the sugar and gently stir until it dissolves, then bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the marmalade reaches the setting point. I cooked mine in an 11-quart jam pan and took it off the heat at about 16 minutes, which was too soon, so my set was soft. (The flavor knocks my socks off, though.) After the super foamy stage, wait for the bubbles to settle down small and shiny and for the mixture to darken a bit, then test it. If you use a candy thermometer, let it hang at 220 for a few moments before you test.
Testing the marmalade for doneness. Remove the mixture from the heat. Use one of the frozen spoons to scoop up a little bit of marmalade — not a whole spoonful, more like half. Return the spoon to the freezer and wait 3 minutes. Retrieve the spoon and hold it vertically. The mixture shouldn’t run. Give it a push with your finger. If it wrinkles all the way through, it’s done. If it needs more time, return the marmalade to the heat, cook it for 2-3 more minutes, and test again.
7. When the marmalade is finished, remove it from the heat, stir in the Cointreau, and skim any remaining foam. (I have developed almost a compulsion with the Cointreau. I feel like it makes almost all of my marmalades — and many of my jams — a little bit better, so I seem to be splashing it into almost everything. I think its deep citrus flavor is brilliant, but maybe it’s kind of like wearing lucky socks and it doesn’t really matter much at all. You can leave it out.) Allow the mixture to cool for about 5 minutes, giving it a gentle stir once or twice to distribute the fruit slices. Then ladle or pour the marmalade into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp cloth and secure the lids.
8. Process in a water-bath canner, using the correct time for your altitude: 5 minutes for 0-1,000 feet above sea level, plus 1 minute for every additional 1,000 feet.
Makes about 5 half-pints.
Rangpur Lime Winner(s)
Congratulations to Victoria in VA, who is the lucky winner of 5 pounds of homegrown Rangpur limes. We’re having some surprise rain here (which we need) but as soon as it stops, I’ll pick and ship your limes. Yay!
Also, I would like to ship out small Rangpur lime bonus boxes — not 5 pounds, but I’ll do what I can — to the two bloggers who inspired this giveaway with their (always) beautiful photos and their enthusiasm for Rangpurs, which are not so easy to come by on the streets of New York. I would never have thought to host the giveaway if I hadn’t been following their pics and notes on Instagram. So. Watch your mailboxes, Autumn (Autumn Makes and Does) and Yossy (Apt. 2B Baking Co), and thank you both for your lovely work.