I was trying to think of a good house warming gift for a client who has everything and more. And I had been wanting to make my Lemon Lime Marmalade again. So I said, “I must make my marmalade!” But as used to happen with a lot of my experimental cooking, I would never note it down and next time around, still need to search. Now I have this blog.
Search I did but no recipe came close to what I had tried the last time (there were no blogs then!). So I did what I always do: look at a number of recipes, make up my mind about the substitutions and eliminations, and then go ahead.
I remembered using sliced lemons limes last time. But all the recipes I found this time (there weren’t too many, I’m afraid–bloggers don’t make Lime jams it seems) wanted me to follow tedious pulp removals or squeeze the juice. I checked the fruit to sugar ratio (and promptly reduced it!) and went from there…
One thing I did different this time was using pips for the additional pectin. It is the sort of thing that you read every time under preserves, especially with low-pectin fruits such as the limes and lemons, but (I) never let come in the way of (my) jam making.
I still had this half a Chakotra (Citrus maxima) bought on the same old Valley of Flowers trip, sitting in the fridge. It is a large bitter-sour citrus fruit, usually the colour of a beautiful grapefruit, with the thickest pith ever (about 1 inch!), that is sold on the Delhi-Dehradoon highway to unsuspecting travellers for a ridiculous sum of Rs30 each! The sucker that I am, I buy it every time we travel this way thinking where else am I going to find it!
I decided that I and the husband should finish the fruit since no one else was showing any inclination. This particular one, neither tart nor bitter, just indifferent, also had an inordinately high number of large seeds. Suddenly the pip-tip came to mind. And, at long last, it was time to try the pip-trick, since I was planning to make the marmalade that afternoon. The half Chakotra yielded a little over a half-cup of pips that I put to good use!
And now, I’m a believer! It was amazing to watch the water that I was boiling the pips in thicken. I kept saying “OMG” to myself (and then recounted it to the husband and family so many times that they started nodding vigorously, “Yes. yes. Very fascinating. Thank you”). And it made all the difference to my marmalade. The setting was perfect and achieved in a very short cooking time despite a slightly lower sugar to fruit ratio. I can turn the marmalade upside down and it stays put!
I used the seedless lemons limes that my mother grows. This marmalade is a little bitter-sweet but I like it. If you keep it for some time the bitterness will be gone. The marmalade, like all lemon preserves, will darken as it ages. I also added roasted and crushed chilli pepper flakes before pouring into jars for an additional twist: bitter, sweet, sour and hot!
2C thin-sliced lemons/limes (if your lemons/limes are large, cut slices into half-rounds)
1/2t soda-bi-carb (optional)
1/2C pips (any citrus fruit)
2 hot dry red chilli peppers, dry roasted and crushed (optional)
Wash and thinly slice the lemons (or limes). Bring 3 cups of water to the boil and add the soda. Drop in the sliced lemons and simmer till the peels have cooked. While the lemons are cooking, boil the pips in 1 cup of water for about half hour (and wonder as the liquid thickens!). Strain this pectin-rich syrup and reserve.
To the cooked lemons add the sugar, a little at a time, so that the liquid is always boiling. Once all the sugar has been added bring to a rolling boil, add the pip-syrup, and boil for 10 min. Reduce heat and boil till setting stage. You can test by spooning some preserve on to a cool plate and keeping in the freezer for a minute or so. If setting point has been reached, a skin will form over the surface which should wrinkle when pushed. For the quantity above, when using the pip-syrup, it took just 15 minutes of boiling after all the sugar was dissolved.
Dry roast and crush the chilli peppers, if using, and mix in before pouring the hot marmalade into sterilized jars. Screw on the lids and store.
A jar of the Lime Marmalade and another of home-made Baharat, the North African spice blend (and a recipe for meatballs using the Baharat) is what went into the house-warming gift basket.