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Wednesday 2 December 2009

Lemon-Vanilla Marmalade

It feels quite strange to be writing in December about something I made back in February, but I suppose that's the good thing about preserves; they keep. I've actually wanted to write about this marmalade for a long time, but decided to wait until it was nearer Christmas, since I made it in the first place with the intention of giving jars away as presents. And apparently, lemons are now in season, though as you can get them all year round, I don't really know what that means.

Just three beautiful ingredients.

It's no secret that I love to make food for other people, be it in regular meal-form, or as gifts like this. But although I like cooking very much (oh so very much!), there are a few things that I have always thought were either a waste of time to make yourself, or troublesome in the extreme to do so. Example of the former: pasta; of the latter: jams and marmalades.

Now, I do accept that anything is worth doing if the process is enjoyable and the results worth the time spent; I am sure that one day I will try making pasta and it will be a complete revelation. I'll probably even spend ages telling you about how wonderfully easy and fantastically delicious it was, and how you should make it too. And maybe you will. But I really, really never thought I'd bother with marmalade. All that faffing about with sterilising jars, using sugar thermometers and setting points - surely only retired old W.I. members had time for that?

Then last year at Christmas, I was given this book and everything changed. This collection of recipes achieves what many would deem impossible; it makes putting things in jars sound exciting. Yes, really. Exciting! And what's more, it shows that not only is sterilising jars easy, but that you don't actually need a sugar thermometer at all. For anything!

Did you ever think that lemon rinds soaking could be so pretty?
No. Of course you didn't. Neither did I.

My enthusiasm must show that I have been converted. I'm not going to go as far as saying that 'putting up' is the new going out (though it is tempting to do so. You must admit, it's a catchy phrase.), but I really do think this is worth making. The vanilla is my own addition. I'm sure it's not an original one, but it makes the marmalade look stunning, flecked as it is with beautiful black grains, and brings an exotic flavour and fragrance to whatever you add it to. I can recommend it not only for the obvious morning slice of toast, but also spooned into hot bowls of rice pudding or to top porridge.

I really recommend it with porridge.

You can see I recycle old jars. So could you!
Lids were bought here.

I have mentioned Pam 'the Jam' Corbin, and her recipes before, when we had the glut of vegetables from Mr. Other P's parents. But I want to mention her again now to say that her book would make a perfect present this Christmas for anybody you know who likes to cook. I have enjoyed reading and using it immensely; I'm sure lots of people would. And if you think (quite wrongly) that marmalade is too much of a faff to make as a present, then it's the next best thing you can give.

Lemon-Vanilla Marmalade

You will need:

1 kg lemons
2 kg granulated sugar
1 vanilla pod, split, seeds scraped out and reserved

  • Top and tail the lemons. In other words, cut the bumps off the ends! Juice them, and then slice the rinds as thinly or thickly as you like. I think thinly is better, but will allow you the freedom to choose.
  • Put the juice, rinds and 2.5 litres of water into a large bowl, and leave to soak overnight. I don't know if you really need to do this, but Pam says to and she knows better than me.
  • Transfer the lemon mixture to a large (LARGE!) pan, and cook gently for a few hours until the lemon rind is soft. The liquid will have reduced by about a third.
  • Add the sugar. Boil, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then boil rapidly until the setting point (* see note) has been reached. This took about 40 minutes for me, though start checking at 20.
  • Turn off the heat. Stir through the vanilla seeds, and pour into hot, sterilised jars (* see note). Seal immediately. Use within 2 years.
NB: To check for setting point: when you start boiling the jam, put a saucer in the freezer to chill. After boiling for the required time, drop small dribbles of the jam onto the saucer and wait a moment. If, when you poke the puddle of jam with your finger, the surface forms a wrinkle, the setting point has been reached.

To sterilise jars, see here.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Another try on the comment! Thanks for sharing the tips-- I've always been a little wary of canning stuff, but maybe it's not as scary as I thought!

  3. I love this! Can't wait to try it!

  4. Oh, this is beautiful! I was just having a discussion with Jason and telling him that you couldn't reuse old jars if they we're purchased for canning - I'm feeling a bit sheepish here now.

    These look great - I love the description of the yellow with the vanilla flecks...

  5. your marmalade looks so pretty! i have some orange marmalade sitting in the fridge and i need to find something to put it in...but i do have some lemons sitting on the counter, so i'm quite tempted now to try making more marmalade instead!

  6. some reason this reminds me of lemon curd though theyre totally different probably.

    maybe its the fact theyre both delish on toast 8-)
    i love marmalade! (hence my blog name!)
    But lemon marmalade,now that is one i must try!
    great post :D

  7. I love to put up - all kind of stuff ... nice to see this recipe - thanks for posting it

  8. So gorgeous! This is a wonderful idea for a gift. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Sounds delicious. I love making jelly and preserves. I bet this goes well with cream cheese, too.

  10. Great way to use lemons. You do seem to enjoy cooking as you said. Keep going!

  11. April - it's easy. But I don't mess around with water baths. Anything that requires boiling after putting in the jar doesn't get made in my house.

    Mother Rimmy - It would be a great gift!

    Mae - I think if you replace the lid it's all good. I don't know about in the States, but here, grannies re-use old jars all the time, and they don't even change the lids. Personally, I find that icky. If someone gave me a jar of homemade whatever, and the lid had the brand name of something else on it - say Branston pickle - then I would expect the homemade stuff to taste like whatever was in the jar originally. Irrational, but there you go. New lids = way to go. Still need to try your okra!

    Brie - Close up, it looks gritty. But the grit is vanilla! It's like an ugly bonus. :)

    Bigarade - Your name makes sense now! Never made curd. But it's only a matter of time, I'm sure. Only thing is it doesn't keep as long, and after jarring things, I think it's nice to put them away and forget about them for a while.

    Drick - what else have you put up? Will have to come check it out.

    Belinda - Give it a go! (Mine's almost all been given away)

    Liz - Thanks! It would be amazing with cream cheese!

    Shirley - Personally, I think it's the second best way. The best is sliced and used to garnish a Bloody Mary! :)

  12. This marmalade sure looks delicious, don't mind having one bottle as a gift!

  13. wonderful marmalade! I would pretty much slab this on banana bread or muffins yum!

  14. Looks delicious. I've never made enough jam to actually give it away. I'll make individual jars. It goes quickly in our house.

  15. What wonderful presents these would make! And I bet it is heavenly on toast -- the brightness of the lemon had me intrigued from the start. Phooey...I thought I left a comment on your site last week to pick up an award badge on my site, but I guess my computer can be a POS sometimes. Anyways just wanted to give you props for having an awesome blog, keep up the fabulous work!

  16. I know this is form over substance, but I want your little jar with the glass handles. So cute! I'm a sucker for packaging. Of course, the marmalade sounds tasty too!

  17. I might be a sucker for all things lemon flavored, but this marmalade with vanilla beans sounds divine!

  18. I might be a sucker for all things lemon flavored, but this marmalade with vanilla beans sounds divine!

  19. Strange timing Mr P.! This weekend I pulled all kinds of fruit out of my freezer and made jams and sauces. I'd like to try this one too. Although I realize you made this months ago, I guess we have jam on the brain for gifts.


  20. I love the idea of this, I've even added the River Cottage book to my Amazon wish list! I've made lemon curd before (soooo easy!), but never had the bottle to try "grown up" preserves, but you've inspired me!

    I'm starting a beekeeping course in January and love the idea of rows of golden honey and home made preserves lined up!

    Love your blog btw!

  21. Delicious sounding marmelade Mr P! When I lived in Canada, I often used to can my own preserves and pickles every year, but haven't really done so since moving over here. With there only being the two of us, it hardly seemed worth it. This recipe just may have changed my outlook on that! Fabulous!

  22. You recycled the jars, but the lids are new right? I have to say, that jar you feature has such a lovely shape:) I love the sound of the combo of lemon and vanilla, I am sure it would be beautiful over a simple cheesecake:P

    Btw, we have lemons growing, and the ONLY time there is likely to be no fruit is in the midst of summer. 11 months of the year yes, but late Jan early Feb, nothing. That would be June/July or maybe July/August for you?

  23. Coby - who really understands seasonality? What I will say though, is that after I got back from Australia and we bought our house, I was intensely excited by the promise of home grown passion fruit from the vine in our garden. But sadly, they don't ripen. Curses! We do get pretty flowers all through what is meant to be the fruit season though... Small consolation.

    Cheah - I'll Fed-Ex one over! :)

    Ms. Humble - So good you commented twice! Hee hee :)

    Laura - Yeah, we're The Jam Brains. (Sounds like a band, no?)

    Marie - That's why this is becoming gifts. Two men do NOT 11 jars of jam need, lovely though it is.

    Andy - Are you serious? Bee Keeping? If you don't blog about it, I'll be very cross! Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall (who I love btw) mentioned once that urban hives make the best honey, because of all the different pollen available. Maybe I should give it a go? Not that Cardiff is exactly 'urban'.

    Joy - Thanks, that's so sweet! Had no idea. Will be over now.

    Jessie - My favourite way is crumpets. Can't be beaten.

    My Man's Belly - What kind do you make most? I like the sound of individual jars. Less shelf space!

  24. the sugar scrub is pretty good! i really like it. i made my skin feel suuuuper soft, and i didn't have to apply body lotion at all after my shower! i think olive oil is supposed to be really good for your skin.

  25. This is wonderful- very different! Lemon and vanilla sounds amazing- I'm actually addicted to high-sugar preserves atm :( Since i was a kid I have always been able to eat spoonfulls of Rose's lime marmalade :s Yeah.. I really shouldn't tell people about that.

  26. Oh and I wish I was giving my apple chutney away but I didn't make enough... maybe I should make some more...

  27. This sounds delicious! I'm definitely bookmarking this! :)

  28. Oooh, this marmalade sounds refreshing. Would love a big gob slathered on some toast or a scone right about now. These type of gifts are my favorite to give and get. Great idea!

  29. It made me smile to see you lemon bits floating at the top of the jar. I made pear jam a few months ago, and encountered the same thing.

  30. Mmmmm....
    This looks wonderful. I'm resisting a rather intense urge to make this, since I have no vanilla bean. Do you think I could substitute vanilla extract in there? I dearly want to make such a beautiful batch of marmalade.

  31. Your vanilla-lemon marmalade looks delicious, I'm definitely going to make it! I'm crazy about vanilla, I make my own extract and I usually add a vanilla bean when I make apricot jam, and rhubarb and strawberry jam. I wonder about lime and cardamom...ever tried?

  32. Mr. P,
    Thanks so much for stopping by at my blog. So glad to hear you started knitting again :). This lemon marmalade is very different than Marisa's. I will have to try this.

    About the water bath process, how come you don't do that in the UK? Not required I assume? I think sometimes in the US things are 'overprocessed.'

    1. Jenn, we just don't think it's necessary. We do use that type of processing for bottling whole fruits and what not, but for jams, chutneys and marmalades we just sterilise the jars and lids and seal while hot. It's the same all over Europe.

      Get Pam's book! You'll be jarring all year!


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