Thursday, July 2, 2009


I’ve never been a big eater of jams or jellies—they were always taboo in my house because of their high sugar content. We did, however, have a family friend who always delivered fresh berry preserves in the summertime when all the fruit was coming in season in Michigan, and they were always so wonderful.

A few times, I’ve gotten the inspiration to make preserves myself when I notice some fruit in the fridge looking a bit sad, but then I forget and by the time I come back, the fruit is moldy and worthy only for the trashcan. On our recent trip to New York, however, the complimentary hotel breakfast included the most wonderful preserves every morning—lemon with ginger, apricot with lavender—and to make matters worse, I sat through a beautiful episode of Barefoot Contessa on the way home in which she makes a delicious-looking (and easy) orange marmalade. I could resist no longer.

I adapted the Contessa’s recipe a bit to add some excitement, using Meyer lemons for their soft, herbal flesh and adding some lavender buds. I was also in need of some easy end-of-year gifts to give to some of my professors who have helped me through my difficult BA-writing, so the four-pint yield of this comes in handy for gift-giving!

Recipe (yield: 4 pints)
4 seedless oranges
2 (Meyer) lemons
4 cups sugar
8 cups water
1/2 tbsp dried lavender buds

Cut the lemons and oranges in half length-wise and begin making thin slices like half-moons. Throw them into a large stainless steel pot (I used my absolute largest soup pot), and cover with 8 cups of water. Add the lavender and bring to a boil. When it starts to boil, remove the pot from heat, add sugar, stir to dissolve, and allow the pot to sit covered overnight at room temperature.

After the flavors have been allowed to meld, return the pot to heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let simmer uncovered for two hours, stirring every so often, breaking apart the rinds a little bit as you go. When the mixture seems to have thickened, turn the heat up to medium to a gentle boil, stirring frequently for about 30–40 minutes until you have a thick, golden mixture and a candy thermometer reads 220º F. To test if your marmalade is done, put a small amount on a plate and stick it in the freezer for a few minutes until it is cool. If it seems to hold together without being runny, you’re in business. Otherwise, keep stirring. If it’s too hard, you may want to add just a little more water.

When it’s done, take the pot off of the heat, pour the marmalade into sterilized pint jars, and seal.

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