A while back an unexpected cardboard box from San Francisco arrived just before Christmas. Inside was a passel of humongous Dungeness crabs on ice which were promptly transformed into the Silver Palate’s sublime crab mousse. Filling out the shipment was a bunch of large Meyer lemons plucked from my friend’s small backyard on the sloping hills of the Mission neighborhood. (I hope that’s the right way of saying that, that it doesn’t sound like “the Brooklyn” would to New Yorkers.) A day later they were toast; or rather they were thick sweet marmalade on hot buttered toast. The friend, the box, the mousse, the marmalade all unforgettable.
Meyer lemons were an almost unheard of commodity then and are still rather rare east of the west coast. Currently they are making a surprise appearance at the King Kullen in Bridgehampton. Make hay when the sun shines is an apt aphorism for these babies, their lemony lemoness a combination of exotic and familiar. Not as tart as everyday lemons but unmistakably lemon all the same.
It’s either a known true fact or just learned speculation that Meyers trace their ancestry to an ancient Asian hybrid of lemon and orange. So for this creamy, custardy marmalade a few Clementines are added to the effort, amplifying the otherness of the lemony flavor without stealing the spotlight.
BTW don’t you love how all of these gustatory marvels have proper surnames? So thanks to Mr. Dungeness, Madame Meyer and darling Clementine for whatever roles you played in bringing these delicacies to our tables.
12 large Meyer lemons
4 clementine oranges
sugar (measurement based on volume of fruit, expect to use about 3 cups)
Cut the tips off the lemons. Slice in half long ways, then peel off the skin. Cut the skin into thin strips.
Taking care to save all the juice (cut over a bowl or on a large plate) slice the lemons and remove all the seeds. Put into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a cutting blade.
Saving all the juice as you did the lemons, slice the Clementines, skins and all, and put in the food processor with the lemon pulp.
Pick off any belly buttons on the lemon tips and add to the food processor. Process until the fruit is pulpy and frothy and the rinds of the Clementines are chopped into rough bits.
Measure the processed fruit pulp mixture. Measure out an equal volume of sugar (probably 3 cups or so). Measure tap water into an amount that is 1/2 the volume of the sugar.
Add the fruit pulp, sugar, water and reserve lemon peel strips to large preserving pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring well to dissolve all the sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring so that it doesn’t stick or scorch.
The marmalade should thicken up after 20 minutes of cooking. If it seems too runny try this test: smear 1 tablespoon of hot marmalade on a small plate and place in the freezer for 3 minutes. The marmalade is ready if it clots. If it still looks too runny continue to cook the batch for another 5 10 minutes. Note: The marmalade will firm up more as it cools.
Pour into prepared, sanitized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.