At the sliver-end of January, I came home lugging a giant bag of Rangpur limes under one arm and a pile of mail under the other. I had been at my mom’s house, visiting her huge tree and picking all the Rangpurs I could reach without hurting myself. (Thorns, ouch! Terracing, whoops! But using worse words.)
On the drive home, I had been talking to myself about how I’d like to finally figure out a good, reliable, not-too-complicated Rangpur lime marmalade recipe. And how it’s too bad I’ve probably become too lazy to do that. These days, there are so many other things I’d rather do. I love these pungent, weird, and grassy limes, but what in the world was I going I do with fifteen pounds of them? Given my internal nattering, I was beyond delighted to discover that the pile of mail I picked up contained a copy of Beyond Canning: New Techniques, Ingredients, and Flavors to Preserve, Pickle, and Ferment Like Never Before, by Autumn Giles — including her recipe for Rangpur lime marmalade.
Autumn is the author of one of my most favorite blogs, Autumn Makes and Does, as well as many other fine things. She has contributed work to a host of publications, from The New York Times to Serious Eats to Modern Farmer. Plus, Autumn is a poet, and that perhaps gets to the heart of why I pay attention to what she makes and does. Autumn cares about words and ingredients the same. Her words are thoughtfully joined to make good writing. Her ingredients are combined with respectful attention to make good recipes. She gets it.
Getting back to the marmalade, I had a not-very-bright idea that night: I thought I would extrapolate her lovely small-batch marmalade recipe to accommodate the fruit I had on hand. I’m talking about turning a recipe crafted for five pieces of citrus fruit into a process made for fifty. If you’ve been making preserves for a while, you know there’s a good chance something like that won’t go right on the first try, if it will go at all. (If you’re new to preserving, take heed.) I won’t bother telling you exactly how it happened, but I made a gallon and a half of nice syrup. However, said syrup has already been consumed, proving that even “mistakes” usually aren’t.
My adventure underscored one of the beautiful things about Autumn’s book, which is that her recipes use reasonable quantities of fruit. Consider Fig Jam with Toasted Fennel Seeds, using just a pound of figs. Whole Brined Meyer Lemons, using just 2-3 lemons, not 203, like I’ve had here some years. Pizza-Pickled Brussels Sprouts with a scant pound of veggies or, the one I can’t wait to make next, Grapefruit-Rhubarb Preserves, which you can find spelled out at About.com.
Autumn’s approach to the preserves in this book is inspiring yet attainable, which these days is much more my speed. She offers bite-sized projects for successfully preserving with sugar, vinegar, or salt.
Autumn has generously allowed me to share her marmalade recipe here. Do make it as she wrote it, including the note about using large limes. My experiment also taught me that smaller fruits — as well as those that are unusually rindy, pithy, or seedy — will not want to subject themselves to the fine knife work of this recipe. If you have some gnarly Rangpur limes (and I used worse words for those, too) you may want to consider a preserve that will forgive rough handling, like whole fruit Rangpur jam.
Rangpur Lime Marmalade
From Beyond Canning, by Autumn Giles, with a few of my own comments in brackets
Yields about 5 half-pint jars
1 1/2 pounds (about 5 large) Rangpur limes
4 1/2 cups water
3 1/2 cups sugar
- Slice off the ends of one Rangpur lime and place it on one of its flat ends. Using a sharp knife or vegetable peeler, remove the peel in strips about 1-inch wide. Leave behind as much white pith as possible. Repeat with the remaining fruit.
- Use a sharp knife to help peel off any extra pith or remaining patches of skin [from the flesh of the fruit]. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Reserve the flesh of the fruit.
- Julienne the Rangpur lime peel by stacking 3 or 4 pieces on top of one another and slicing them thin. Place the julienned peel in your preserving pot and set aside.
- Now, slice the reserved fruit in half lengthwise and slice the half lengthwise again. Cut each quarter crosswise to form many small 1/8-inch-thick Rangpur lime triangles. Reserve the seeds as you go. Put the fruit slices in a medium-size nonreactive bowl as you work.
- Once the flesh is sliced, tie up the seeds in a square of cheesecloth or scrap of white tea towel. Add them to the preserving pot with the julienned peel and cover with the water.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour in the sliced Rangpur lime fruit.
- Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.
[Before you start, remove the rangpur lime seed bundle from the preserving pot and give it a good squeeze into the mixture, then discard the seeds.]
- Add the sugar and, over high heat, bring to a boil that cannot be stirred down. Cook, stirring frequently, until it passes the plate test (see page 22), about 18 minutes. (You can also use the frozen spoon test I describe in a lot of my recipes, like this one. Same thing.)
- Ladle into prepared half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims. Place the lids on the jars and screw on the bands until they are fingertip tight.
- Process in a water-bath canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude as needed.
- After 24 hours, check the seals. Label, date, and store out of direct sunlight without the bands for up to a year.
The Beyond Canning Blog Book Tour
This is one of the last stops on a blog book tour that’s been going on all month. To learn more about Beyond Canning, including more recipes and some book giveaways, visit these folks, too. You can also purchase or order a copy of the book from your nearest independent bookseller or, as always, from Amazon.
3/7: Food in Jars
3/8: Punk Domestics
3/10: Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking
3/11: Snowflake Kitchen
3/14: Good. Food. Stories.
3/15: Heartbeet Kitchen
3/16: Brooklyn Supper
3/17: The Briny
3/18: The Preserved Life
3/21: Hitchhiking to Heaven
3/22: Hola Jalapeno
3/23: Cook Like a Champion
3/24: Local Kitchen
3/25: Dolly & Oatmeal
Disclosure: The publisher, Voyageur Press, sent me a complimentary copy of this book for review.