Though it doesn't feel like it today, Spring is here. Most people get the winter blues - less daylight, cold, dreary weather - whatever it is that gets you down. For me, it's the lack of bright, fresh food. I get so tired of potatoes and squashes, that as soon as I possibly can, I run to the brightest thing I can find - Meyer Lemon.
Meyer Lemons originated in China and are a sort of cross-breed between lemon and orange. While these waxy beauties did make their way to the United States in the 40s, a great deal of what is grown domestically today is known as an "Improved Meyer Lemon," which is a heartier version of the Asian Meyer Lemon.
Either way, the orangish-yellow rind is floral, waxy and bitter, while the fruit is sweet and much less tart than the traditional lemon. This all makes it perfect for making jam. Served simply with biscuits or toast, or topped on ice cream, pie or cake, this makes your mouth realize that spring is here!
Citrus fruits are naturally high in pectin, which is found in the peel of the fruit. This is wonderful for the Meyer Lemon, as the entire fruit is edible and delicious. Chopping and using the whole fruit would make most jams bitter, but with Meyers, the balance is breathtaking.
The differences between jam & jelly and preserves & marmalade can be confusing for most. My answer - call if whatever you want. Technically, jam is made from pureed fruit. Well, we don't puree the lemon in this recipe - we chop it ahead of time. Marmalade only uses the zest and the pulp, not the whole fruit. This recipe uses the whole fruit. What are we left with? Like I said, whatever you want! I chose to go with jam, because it is simple and to the point. All that really matters is that it is delicious!
Try this recipe for yourself, or join us for Sunday brunch where we serve it with our housemade shortbread biscuits (which I will never share the recipe for!). Or, pick some up from our retail case if you are lucky enough to snag some up before everyone else!
2 1/2 pounds Meyer Lemons
6 cups water
6 cups sugar
Quarter the lemons and then slice into small 1/4" wedges. Remove and set aside the pith and seeds as you chop. Place the lemons and water in a large pot. Wrap the reserved seeds and pith in cheesecloth and tie with butchers' twine. Add the "seed bag" to the pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and remove the seed bag. Add the sugar to the pot and bring back to a boil for another 20 minutes or until set.
What does "set" mean?
The "set" in jam refers to whether it is runny or firm. The correct "set" is somewhere in between. It shouldn't run freely, but also shouldn't stand on its own. To test a perfect "set," place a spoonful on a small plate. Using the back of the spoon, run a line through it. If the jam slides easily and doesn't join back together, you have a proper "set." Congratulations, you've just made jam!