There was this sale, you see…
One of the local stores had lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits marked at a price I could by no means resist. And, yet, there is no way on God's green earth that I could eat a baker's dozen of lemons, three pounds of key limes, three pounds of Clementines, or two pounds of standard limes.
At least, not as they were.
So I started experimenting with putting them by. Some of the processes will take a month or more to establish whether or not they were successful (I'm pickling some key limes, for the fun of it, with a little sliced chili pepper and a mess of salt, and tomorrow I start in on another option for limes). But today, I made marmalade.
Not your typical marmalade, either. I used some wild honey and mixed my fruits until I had an entertaining blend of flavors and colors. I suppose, if you wanted to, you could do this with one single variety of citrus fruit (maybe Meyer lemons). But I went with what I had and what I had a craving for.
And it wasn't until I was completely finished with the process of canning the stuff and sitting down to supper that the LaBelle song bubbled up from deeeeep inside me.
Still, I have to say, Patti LaBelle notwithstanding, the day was a success.
I made jellied citrus. So. There.
It may even become Christmas prezzies, if I'm in a really good mood, come winter.
But the recipe went something like this:
Mixed Citrus and Honey Marmalade
8 cups citrus fruits (my blend was 6 cups thin-skinned lemons, 1 cup tangerines, 1 cup key limes). This amounts to, roughly, 14 lemons, 4 "cuties" tangerines, and 10 key limes, but that will vary according to the size of your fruits. You're likely to need a little more than 3 lbs of whatever fruit you choose.
2 cups strong honey something like wild honey or sorghum honey. I went wild.
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups sugar
2 packets liquid pectin (do not use powder!!!!!)
jelly jars to contain approximately 20 cups
Carefully wash fruit (with a vegetable wash, not soap. If you don't have veggie wash, rinse carefully, allow to soak for a few hours or overnight, drain away water, rinse, and allow them to soak as you prepare everything else.
Give your jars a hot bath and soak the flat lids in simmering water until you need them. I have a good dishwasher with hot-bath setting, so I prepped the jars in that, and put the lids in a small saucepan, separated, covered with simmering water.
Trim away stem ends and slice lemons* into small sections, approximately 1 centimeter wide and very thin (but not paper-thin). I found the easiest way to do this was to cut the lemon in half lengthwise (cutting through from blossom to stem end), then cut each half into 4 equal lengthwise wedges, and finally slice crosswise into small, thin bits. You will want a very sharp knife to do this well.
When all your lemons have been cut, combine them with honey, sugar, and water in a large (at least 5 quart), nonreactive saucepan. Stir well, bring to boil, immediately reduce heat and simmer very low for 30 minutes (overheating amplifies the bitterness of the skins).
Prepare work surface for hawtness of a traditional kind while this is simmering. If you are a little sloppy, the way I am, put out a large jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with walls) on a flat surface near the stove. Have ready your ladle, funnel, lid rings, and tongs (for fishing out lid flats from hot bath and for fishing jars out of hot bath, if necessary).
Add in liquid pectin, bring to low boil for 5 minutes, remove from heat immediately. Working quickly, ladle into jars, putting lids & rings on each one as you go, and turning upside-down to help them seal. When they are sufficiently cooled, turn them right-side-up and wash any stickiness away before labeling them. (You will know they are sealed if you press the center of the lid and it doesn't "pop" or otherwise make a noise.)
Enjoy a jar or two at a later date, or, if you must, share with loved ones, but when I make jellies, I always make sure one jar "accidentally" fails to seal, so I can have it for dessert that evening. This can be accomplished by re-using a flat lid, or by using a jar & lid from some store-bought preserved food (I don't recommend using one which used to hold peppers, though, unless you really want that added flavor in your first bite of this marmalade).
*For the sake of brevity, I am calling all citrus "lemons" at this point. If you're using others, go ahead and pretend I've included the rest of them in the description.