when life gives you lemons.

when life gives you lemons.

Marmalade is where it's at.

I have long had a passion for the art of preserving food. Not only is it the foundation of our menu concept at The Preservery, but it was also one of my first and earliest explorations into cooking. I was born and raised in Fresno, in the central valley of California, where you can grow just about anything you feel like, and we grew quite a lot of things in our backyard. In particular, we had a Santa Rosa plum tree that bore so much ripe, sweet, juicy fruit in the summer that we couldn't keep up with the supply. My parents would let me help as they made huge batches of plum jam and plum butter and other plum things while the kitchen windows would get steamy from all the boiling water for the canning. I might have been the only kid in school who brought a PB&J for lunch on homemade bread with homemade jam every day.  

Growing up with all those good preserves made me choosy about the store-bought ones. They tend to rely too heavily on sugar and not enough on the integrity of the fruit. But I love jam! I put it on toast and scones, use it to sweeten salad dressing, serve it alongside a cheese plate or some freshly fried beignets and of course, I still get down with some PB&J (with buttered, salted toast when I'm feeling fancy). I will forever carry on the tradition of fogging up the kitchen windows to keep my fridge full of the good stuff. For the sake of good preserves!

This sweet and tart Lemon Marmalade is a new favorite, inspired by citrus season and an overabundance of lemons sitting in the fridge, begging to be turned into a Sunday afternoon project. I love marmalade because it uses the whole fruit, peel and all, and the texture that results is toothsome and wonderful. I like to use it just the same as any jam (although I think any marmalade purist would eschew the notion of making PB&M with marmalade, I think it's wonderful) or you can try mixing up some marmalade in whipped ricotta to spread on toast or perhaps stirred into some tangy yogurt. And of course - cream scones! 

Lemon Marmalade
makes 4 4-oz jars

1 1/2 lbs (6-8) lemons
1 3/4 cups sugar

- Wash your lemons really well. Slice in half and juice, straining or removing seeds. Set juice aside.
- Scoop the excess pulp from each lemon half and discard. Slice the peel into thin strips and chop to desired size (smaller cuts will make the marmalade more spreadable, larger cuts will yield a chunky mixture that's great for garnishing cocktails, sweets & such).
- Add sliced peel to a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for about a minute. Drain strips and rinse with cold water. Blanch the strips three more times to remove the bitterness of the pith. 
- Return the drained lemon strips to your saucepan and add the reserved lemon juice and sugar. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook at a gentle boil until the liquid thickens and sets, about 30-40 minutes. You can test it by cooling a plate in the freezer for a few minutes, then dropping a small spoonful of marmalade onto the plate. Wait about a minute for the marmalade to cool, then push it with your finger. If it pools around your finger, it's too thin, if it crinkles and pushes back with your finger, it's set.
- Ladle the marmalade into your jars, leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top. Close jars with the lids. To can the marmalade, process using the hot water bath canning method: cover in water at least 3 inches above the jar and cook at a rolling boil for 15 minutes. Remove using cannning tongs and allow to drain on a kitchen towel. Let the marmalade sit a day or two before serving.