Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lime Marmalade

I had intended spring vacation to be marmalade week, and thus bought a sack of limes. However, time and events got ahead of me, and the limes sat on the kitchen stool for a week. Finally, Thursday night, irritated by the fact that the limes were still sitting there, potentially rotting, I opened up the cookbook and started chopping.
Now, I am entranced by the names of foods. When I was in sixth grade, I used to check out the F-G volume of the World Book Encyclopedia during study hall and drool over the entry on food. In 1973 the first time I went to England, I encountered egg mayonnaise on a menu. Egg Mayonnaise! What a wondrous sounding dish. It sounded delicious and fancy and sophisticated. Well, at the bottom of a mountain in Scotland, I stopped at a sort of food stand that was selling the fabulous egg mayonnaise sandwiches. I was so disappointed to find that it was only egg salad. Not only that, but some git had put margarine on the Wonder Bread they used to make the sandwich.
And so it was with lime marmalade. Back at the beginning of this enterprise, in February, when I started it all by making grapefruit marmalade, I consulted my New York cousin on how to get the stuff to jam. She told me that her mother, my mother's sister, (not the one who shot a tiger, but the other one) used to make marmalade from one of those ladies' auxilliary cookbooks, sold as fundraisers. "She even made lime marmalade," said Cricket.
"Wow," I thought. "lime marmalade!"
I imagined it would be lime green, the color of that horrible mint jelly restaurants used to desecrate perfectly decent lamb with. I imagined beautiful, artistic, thin slices of lime floating in the jelly. And I imagined it would taste....ethereal.
So, I was definitely looking forward to lime marmalade. And, you have to admit, it won hands down over the four other marmalade recipes on the same page, New England Carrot Marmalade, Cucumber Marmalade, Quince Marmalade, (What the hell are quinces, anyhow?), and Tomato Marmalade. There is also Rhubarb Marmalade. (That goes into the head cheese category of things I'd better make when husband is out of town. He despises rhubarb.) In fact, there are two recipes for Rhubarb Marmalade, and Lemon Marmalade. Now, that sounds good. Hmm.
Also I had hit upon using these jams and jellies as a way to market the blog. I would get stick on labels and write the blog address on them. Then I would stick them on the jars. If some dude from Ecuador could get 9,000 readers a month for his blog that consisted of pictures of everything he ate every day, as reported by the NY Times, somebody must be interested in this besides my cousin Cricket, my one devoted reader.
Be warned, lime marmalade takes time. The stuff has to sit over two nights. Thursday night, I cut all the limes in chunks and ran them through the food processor. Then, I measured the resulting, somewhat lime green mass, and did multiplication, which you do in everyday life!! Sorry, as a teacher, one of my daily struggles is to try to tell my students that there is a point to all this information we are attempting to convey to them. I multiplied the six cups of lime moosh by three cups of water and got 18 cups of water. I added same to the lime and let all sit in the big ceramic bread bowl on the counter.
Friday night, after we got home from the cabaret at church, and dinner, I boiled the stuff for twenty minutes, and at 5 to midnight, put it back in its ceramic bowl and went to bed. On Saturday afternoon, after forgetting to buy five pounds of sugar at the first grocery store I went to, and buying it at the second, I was ready to boil.
I also needed jars. On the metal shelves in the corner of our basement, neatly arranged by my husband, are five boxes of mason jars. Or, upon further investigation, shall we say, five boxes that once contained mason jars. Shit. That's somewhere in the vicinity of 45 jars gone missing, over 25 years. Well, if you put it that way, it'll happen. The recipe said it makes 20 six ounce jars of marmalade. (It didn't, but it made enough to fill way more than the number of six ounce jars I had. So, I combed through the shelves, and found some 12 ounce jars, dragged them upstairs, washed them and plunged them into a boiling water bath to kill all the lurking microbs.
By now, having added a huge quantity of sugar, the lime mass was no longer green. It was instead a dark, marmalade color, sort of a browny orange. Disappointment number one. So, I boiled, and boiled and boiled. What these recipes leave out of the cooking instructions is the phrase, "for several hours." Once you know that, making jam, etc is a breeze.
I also learned a new technique for determining whether the stuff is done, or not. Listen carefully, children, because I'm going to explain what the cookbook was talking about. What it says is, boil..."until a drop chilled on a plate leaves a track when pushed by the finger." What that means is, you glop a little on a plate, and put it in the refrigerator. Clear there. Then, you take it out and run your finger through it. When it is done, the marmalade stays parted, like the waters of the Red Sea. You have a little road through your marmalade.
Around 7:00 pm, I ladled the marmalade into various sized hot jars, burning myself at least once in the process, poured melted paraffin over the top, and cleaned up. It does not taste ethereal. It is more tart than grapefruit marmalade, because limes have more of a distinct flavor. If you want to know how many six ounce jars this yields, I would say, around 15.

Lime Marmalade

12 large or 18 medium-sized limes, washed

  1. Two days before, put the limes through a food processor. Measure the resulting pulp and add three cups water for each cup pulp. Set aside overnight in a pottery or ceramic bowl.
  2. Next day, transfer the mixture to a kettle and bring to a boil. Simmer gently twenty minutes. Let stand overnight again in the bowl.
  3. Next day, measure the mixture into a large kettle and add one cup sugar for each cup lime mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil rapidly, stirring to prevent sticking, until the marmalade sheets from the spoon, a drop chilled on a plate leaves a track when pushed by the finger, or the mixture registers 220 degress on a candy thermometer.
  4. Let cool in the kettle about twenty minutes and then ladle into hot sterilized jars. Top with two thin layers of melted paraffin and allow to coll. Cap and store in a cool, dark, dry place.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, it was lemon/lime marmelade. It was delicious and I just finished the last of it recently.