Slice of lemon, no ice
That’s how I’d order my martini. But I’m not in a bar, I’m just out of the kitchen where I made lemon vanilla marmalade. I had three unpleasant days in a row – so really could have done with that martini – and not even the fantastic weather could get me back into a better mood or get me to make this marmalade as I’ve been meaning to for a week now. But this rainy coldish weekend I finally got to it.
I adapted this recipe from If You Can’t Stand The Heat. It sounded like – and really is – the easiest marmalade ever: only 3 ingredients, and nothing much to do other than let them sit on the stove for 2 x 45 minutes. It takes a bit longer to cook than your usual jam, albeit with less work involved. But make sure you get really good quality lemons for this one!
I started out with the first regular sized lemon and found it was too soft to slide over the mandolin, so the result was a bit of a mess. Then I tried to thinly slice them with a sharp knife, but since having cut bits of my fingers off – twice – within the last year, I am quite wary of knives, so there was nothing thin about these slices. Next I tried the two larger organic lemons I had. The mandolin worked beautifully here, nice fine slices, but the outer skin was so thick and the actual fruit was crumbly inside, so that didn’t look like a success either. I gave the regular lemons another chance, and finally found some that went over the mandolin more easily. In the end, I mixed all three varieties together.
Lemon Vanilla Marmalade
1.25 kg caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
[100 ml Limoncello]
Cut ends off the lemons and slice them thinly, removing the pips. Then quarter the slices and put in a pan with 1.25 l of water. Bring to boil, then let simmer – stirring regularly – at low heat for 45 minutes. The lemons should be soft by then. [I usually set the kitchen timer to 15 minutes, stir, set timer…].
Add sugar and vanilla pod and simmer for another 45 minutes. The original recipe just says to add the vanilla pod, but I cut it lengthways, scraped out the seeds, and added both to the fruit. Just take the pods out before filling the marmalade into jars. I’ve only made jam once before with caster sugar instead of gelling sugar, and I didn’t cook it long enough so it was a bit runny. This time I actually tested the consistency with the usual method of spooning some onto a plate.
When the 45 minutes were over, I added 100 ml Limoncello to spice it up a bit and let it cook for another 5 minutes. If you choose to add alcohol at this stage, be careful as it splashes and threatens to make the whole mixture boil over.
End result: it looks great, I especially like it when you can see the vanilla seeds. As for taste, you can’t really tell there’s Limoncello in it, I guess that’s because the lemons are too dominant for it to come out, but otherwise – exactly like the very best shop bought British lemon marmalade. Tangy, not too bitter. You have to like eating lemon peel, but personally, I don’t mind picking some of it out if too much of it gets onto my toast.