Meyer lemons – think of them as a marmalade base

This is a new Co-op technique that will be used again with oranges, plums, and whatever comes our way.  A large bag of Meyer lemons were made into a marmalade base using a basic technique of coring and seeding the fruit, saving that in a cheesecloth lined bowl for a pectin bag, and then thinly slicing the whole fruit. Large membranes were removed and added to the pectin bag.  Using a ration of 1 – 1, a cup of water was added for every cup of sliced fruit.  With the pectin bag (containing the seeds, cores and membranes tied in cheesecloth) in the cooking pot, the mixture was brought to a boil for 30 minutes, then covered with the heat off, and left to sit for 6 hours.  This was the perfect base for a marmalade, simply adding sugar at the same 1 : 1 ratio of 1 cup sugar for each cup of cooked mixture. The peels were tender and the pectin content was high.  Don, a beloved friend of the Co-op, had invited me to harvest his back garden, where I found a handful of ripe blueberries.  A half cup of blueberries added to 4 cups of base mixture with 5 cups of sugar reached a gel stage in about 25 minutes, with a subtle blueberry flavor and a glorious color.  3/4 cup of chopped strawberries, 5 1/2 cups of mix, 6 cups of sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper gelled in about 30 minutes, and has a light strawberry flavor layered over the Meyers, with a subtle after bite of pepper.  Since Mary often serves preserves as a meat condiment in the English style, there was one I’d had in mind for a while.  Marina has a variety of herbs growing (she could put a toothpick in her yard and it would sprout!) , including some aromatic sage.  1 1/2 tbsp. of chopped fresh sage went into the pot with 4 1/2 cups of base mixture and 5 1/2 cups of sugar, gelling in about 25 minutes, and processed for 10 minutes to yield a condiment made for poultry and pork.  We ended up with Meyer lemon Blueberry Marmalade, Meyer lemon Strawberry Marmalade, and Meyer lemon Sage Marmalade, in one afternoon.

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