An aromatic basket of Bearss limes from Mary, sturdy Mexican limes from Mimi, peppers from Shan and Marina, and ginger (from the Armenian market, but someday soon our ginger will be big enough to harvest) were inspiring me on a rainy Saturday afternoon in the Hollywood Hills. Some of the limes are ripe and pale yellow.
First off, a little primer in how to cut up a citrus fruit for marmalade. First, I scrub them, soak in cold water for at least 15 minutes, then scrub twice more. The only things going into the compost are a 1/4″ slice from each end.
Setting the lime on one end, you can see where the core is, so cut on either side of that.
You’ll have two hemispherical shapes and one flat oval shape. Your pectin bowl is ready, lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth.
Tip: For your pectin bag, cut two rectangles instead of two squares, and lay them out in a cross or X shape over the bowl. Tying it up is easier, and more secure.
Cut out the core and put into the pectin bowl, as well as all the seeds.
Slice into wedges including the rind as thinly as possible, and when you come to a membrane, slice that out and put it in the pectin bowl.
When you are putting the nice slices into your measuring cup, put any juice in there as well. For the first recipe, Mary’s Ginger Lime Marmalade, I used 2 cups of sliced limes and 4 cups of fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced. This assertive and sophisticated recipe is for Mary, as she appreciates ginger, has a Bearss lime tree, and likes to serve marmalades with meat dishes. Because the Bearss limes had no seeds, and just to further elaborate on the flavor, I used 3 little Mexican limes in this mix.
They do have seeds, but the rind is too tough to use them in any greater proportion. To mellow the flavor just a little, and add some extra pectin, I peeled and cored a small apple, adding the peels and core to the pectin bowl, and dicing the flesh.
After securely tying the pectin bag, I put it all in a large pot with equivalent water, 6 cups. This all simmered, or a low boil, for 45 minutes until a piece of peel was tender to the bite. I removed the pectin bag to a strainer over a bowl, and squeezed out every last bit of goodness there, adding it back into the pot. Then I added 6 cups of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, and it cooked for about 40 minutes to the gel stage. The filled jars were processed for 10 minutes. This one is strong, ginger-hot and has a traditional bitter taste that I first I thought might be too much, but it is strangely compelling and so refreshing.
Thought: I’d like someone who is a craft bartender / cocktail chef / mixologist to get a sample of this one. It might be a different form of bitters? If you are, or know someone who has this skill, get in touch with me and I will give you a sample.
Now while the ginger lime marmalade was cooking, I was still slicing limes, but this time to combine with a mix of peppers.
Most of these peppers are sweet and mild, but I did use two of Marina’s beautiful little flower shaped red peppers for a little heat. Most of the mild ones were grown by Shan, but I did purchase a poblano and a couple of Anaheim chiles. All the peppers were seeded and all of the white membrane was removed, then the green ones were finely diced, and the red ones were diced super finely (with gloves).
I had a pectin bag, 2 cups of peppers and 2 cups of citrus ( Bearrs limes from Mary with one lemon from Cyd and two Mexican limes from Mimi) – but as I did not want this to be bitter, I used 2 cups of chopped apples, again for the pectin as well. The apples, limes and pectin bag simmered in 4 cups of water for 50 minutes until tender, then I removed the pectin bag and added the peppers, cooking for 8 minutes. Then I added 6 cups of sugar, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, 10 generous grinds of coarse black pepper, a pinch of celery seed and 2 pinches of dried chili flakes. This came to the gel state fairly rapidly, in less than 15 minutes, and the filled jars were processed 10 minutes. Because a flavor component makes me think of a piccallili my grandmother made, I call this our Co-op Piccalimey jelly.
Let me know how you use it!