Recipe of the Day – Lemon Marmalade

A couple of readers of yesterday’s post asked for the recipe for lemon or lime marmelade, so here it is!

Lemon Marmalade.

Fresh tasting, ideal with toast for breakfast.

I used the same recipe for limes, which is sharper and very slightly sour.

I found the recipe on the net but have adapted it considerably as the timings were incorrect for very freshly picked fruit.

Ingredients

1½ lb.  700gm. Lemons.  They should be untreated with chemicals and un-waxed.  I don’t use anything on my lemons so they are organic standard.

3 Pints  1.75 litres Water

3 lbs.  1.35 kg. Sugar

Method

  1. Wash the lemons, and cut them in half.  Cut off the ends.  Squeeze out the juice, and put in a saucepan.
  2. Now remove as much of the membrane and pith as you can and put it all with the pips into a piece of muslin and tie tightly.
  3. Slice the lemons as thinly as you want, you will need a sharp knife.  I did mine quite thinly as that’s how I like my marmalade.
  4. Put the cut peel into pan with the lemon juice and add the water.  Tie the muslin bag on to the side of the pan.
  5. This is where I now leave mine to soak overnight.
  6. Next day bring the pan to the boil and then allow to simmer for about one hour, until the lemon is soft.  If you are using purchased lemons I think they may take up to twice as long to become tender.  Check after 45 minutes.
  7. By now the contents will have reduced.  Add the sugar ,(which you can warm in the oven on a low heat for about 30 mins – I didn’t), bring to a rolling boil and start to test for a set after about 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. If you dip the spoon in the pan, then hold it up to see that the marmalade is dropping slowly from the spoon , then you are nearing a set.  At this point start testing on a plate or saucer that you have previously placed into the fridge.  Leave for a few minutes; if the surface wrinkles when you push your finger through it, you have a set.
  9. Add a small piece of butter and stir which will remove any scum, then, IMPORTANT, Leave to rest for 15 minutes before putting into sterilized jars.
    This quantity made approx. 6 X half pint. or 250 ml jars

    Lemon Marmelade

Harvest Day – Preserving the Crop – Citrus etc.

Although there was some welcome rain during October mostly the days were warm and it was pleasant to be out in the garden, with the changing of the clocks came colder weather, a fire in the evening became a pleasant idea.  Still no need for the heating but I don’t think it will be long until that is necessary.  But then last Friday was THE most beautiful day – sunny, warm, blue skies, a real joy to be outside.  I planted up some pots with Tulips and Alliums to flower next spring, tidied, weeded some beds began the greenhouse reorganisation ready for bringing in plants that won’t survive outside all winter.  Making space for cuttings I want to take and seedlings from the garden that I want to keep an eye on.

The bed with Brassicas has been very productive.  Pointy cabbages now need to be eaten, they are beginning to split.  I used the fennel a couple of weeks ago leaving just two large bulbs that were shelter for Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, yes, they’re still there; I know I posted about them last month.  One of the larger bulbs I harvested last weekend to use to dip into the new olive oil.

The olives are harvested; we have 32 litres of fabulously green, peppery oil to enjoy plus about the same left from last year’s bigger harvest that is perfect for cooking.  I’ve been making soups with my Barlotti beans so we can drizzle new oil over the top.  New oil is all about drizzling!

There were still lots of aubergines and peppers up until the last weekend in October so another ‘last’ roasted Mediterranean vegetables was cooked and enjoyed and a last baba ghanoush.  Actually there are still a few aubergines on the plants and I will keep using them until they stop producing.

Quinces have been harvested; I made ‘hot’ quince jelly with the addition of some chillies while the quinces were softening.  This is lovely with cheese, but it is quite difficult to decide how much chilly to add, I used ones straight from the plant (meaning they had ripened when there was plenty of water) and so the result is subtle heat rather than blow your head off!  I also made for the first time quince chutney, the recipe kindly sent to me by Amelia from A French Garden; I’m letting it stand for a month or so before use as I know chutneys are usually better after a time for the vinegar to mellow a little.  It’s a nice colour so I’m looking forward to trying it.

Chopped quinces, green tomatoes etc. for chutney

Quince chutney almost cooked

I made Thai green curry paste with the green chillies and froze the excess red and green chillies for future use.

Most of my limes are ripe – ALL AT ONCE – so I made lime marmalade and will try a recipe for pickled limes I found in a Delia Smith book.  Any other ideas for syrups or cordials that you’ve tried would be greatly appreciated.  There are a lot of lemons too.  Lemon marmalade is now in the store cupboard, I’ve never made these kinds of marmalades before and am thrilled that they have a really fresh taste and are very different from each other, I rather feared they’d both taste the same.  I will make lemon curd and some preserved lemons too.  My store cupboard is beginning to look very full and pretty with all the coloured jars.

there were about 35 to 40 limes and about as many lemons but luckily the lemons aren’t all ripe at once!

Deliciously sharp and slightly sour lime marmalade

Lemon marmalade is better than I ever dreamed possible

The dwarf beans I planted outside have a small crop which is a real bonus this late in the season.  Basil has finished now, it doesn’t like the low light levels any more than I do!

I’m joining The Gardening Blog for Harvest day, I’m looking forward to seeing what they’re harvesting in their spring gardens.

My Thoughts – Plant Fair at Courson

A couple of weekends ago I flew to Paris for some serious indulgence; no, not food, not culture but plant hunting.  Several of my Italian friends had visited the plant fair at Courson in previous years and were full of enthusiasm.  I have to admit to being a little sceptical.  So far, no plant sales fair in Italy has been very good – poor quality plants, always in large sizes and often straggly tall plants that don’t bush out.

I left home late-morning on a warm, sunny Friday; I’d studied the forecast and rain was predicted for late Friday afternoon and Saturday early morning but clearing by 10 am – it might be cold, but warm clothes were not a problem; I’d actually rather be hot than cold.

I was with a French-speaking friend who had visited on several occasions previously (she is a Botanical artist and has had stand to sell her work at Courson in the past).  Our hotel was near the Jardin du Plantes so our walk to the station the following morning was through the garden; a nice start to the day (it was very grey with very low cloud but trusting in the forecast I was hopeful that by the time we arrived the sun would be shining!

As we boarded the shuttle bus that took us the last 30 minutes of our journey to the Chateau of Courson the rain began to fall in earnest, I was trying to be very positive that the rain would stop before we arrived, but no, it rained and it rained and it rained for most of the day turning the ground into a quagmire of mud.

But I had come too far to be put off; French couples and ladies on their own were arriving well prepared with shopping trolleys on wheels, waterproof boots and weatherproof coats with hoods!

Undeterred we entered the showground, first port of call a small tent manned by two patient men each with a computer.  Ask them the name of a plant you were searching for and they would look it up and tell you which stands had it!!!!!!!!!!  I was impressed.

Rows and rows of plant stands, all with great plants; it seemed like paradise.

I wasn’t sure what I would buy but I was hopeful that I would find a good selection of Agapanthus.  Now you may think that Italy would be an ideal place to grow Agapanthus and indeed many gardens have them but all I have been able to find are the very large evergreen varieties that suffer badly each winter and every year I am fearful they won’t survive.  I wanted some hardy perennial varieties that I knew would survive the winter well in my free-draining soil.  Success!  I soon spotted a stand specialising in only Agapanthus!  Better still (from my point of view) he was a Yorkshire man, a holder of the National collection.  We were soon deep in conversation while I was selecting which of his vast assortment of varieties to buy.  The rain came down even harder, he very kindly offered me an umbrella (I had left mine in the hotel – believing the forecast and also not wanting to have one hand occupied uselessly).

With my purchases from him made and the plants safely in bags behind his stall, awaiting collection later in the day I was ready to begin searching for other plants that would fit in my one suitcase.  With my borrowed umbrella I could at least keep my head dry.

Do check out his website, all the plants were well grown, good sized and he promises will flower in their first year in the ground. Agapanthus specialist.

‘Something for the Garden’ – The Agapanthus stand in a moment without rain

Next up Irises; something else that grows wonderfully for me here but which for some strange reason are difficult to find in nurseries here or when you do find the odd one cost a fortune.  Cayeux, one of the leading Iris growers and sellers in the world did not disappoint although if I had been searching for particular varieties I might have been better to simply order on-line; they too have an excellent website and if I decide to buy more I will order from them in this way.

My other passion, as my regular reader will know is grasses; again I was spoilt for choice with many of the stands having grasses and a couple of specialist growers too.  A few found their way into my bags along with some Asters a friend asked me to look out for.

Plant hunters were undeterred by the incessant rain

The show doesn’t have show-gardens, nothing to distract from the pursuit or plants!

This was the closest to a show garden any of the stands got.

I have never seen anything like this before; maybe Hampton Court Flower Show would be the nearest thing but Courson had hundreds of top quality nurseries selling an amazing number of different plants.  I haven’t mentioned the vast selection of trees, shrubs all in different sized containers.  I think many English gardeners would love this show.  It’s not far from Paris and so great for a weekend break.  We combined this with a day seeing the show gardens at Chaumont.  But that’s for another day.

If you are travelling by plane, some careful thought is needed.  My choices of Anapanthus and Iris I packed without soil; the grasses too, I removed most of the soil while still at the show ground.  A tiny Kaffir Lime I tenderly wrapped and placed with soft cushioning around it to protect it from the sometimes rough treatment of the baggage handlers.