Lemon and Fig Marmalade

A few weeks ago my cousin Art, who lives in Arizona, texted me saying that his lemon tree has a few lemons on it. When I saw the picture that he sent, I could see he was joking. The lemons were saturating the tree limbs. A few days later, a special delivery arrived on my front porch. It was a box full of fresh lemons! Art spoiled my again this year with 13 pounds of this winter citrus. He also sent a similar sized box to my sister, so needless to say, my mom and 5 siblings enjoyed this bounty.

Of course I did not want to duplicate any of the lemon recipes used last winter (Lemon sorbet, preserved lemons, Moroccan Chicken, Lemon Olive Oil), so I had to put my thinking cap on to find the perfect recipe to highlight these magnificent lemons. I found a Meyer lemon marmalade recipe at Simply Recipes that seemed to be the answer to my search. Although, I did incorporate figs into the recipe; the sweetness of the figs is a perfect companion to the tartness of the lemon.

The lemon and fig marmalade is time consuming to make, but it is not technically challenging. I would recommend wearing gloves when slicing the lemons to protect your skin from the acid. With that said, I was in heaven slicing the 2.5 pounds of lemons needed for the recipe. I don't know which I enjoyed more; the invigorating citrus smell or the sight of the golden yellow fruit reminiscent of sunlight. Truly, I was filled with joy working with the lemons. Maybe one day God will place me in a climate where I can grow lemons.

This recipe yields 6 half-pints of marmalade, plenty to share with friends and family. Heads up Artie, your lemon & fig marmalade is in the mail! Thank you again for sharing your lemons with me. What a wonderful blessing. Here's to food and gladness! (Feb 8, 2015)

Equipment needed

  • Large stainless steel (not Aluminum) stockpot (8 qts)

  • 2 large bowls: 1 for lemon fruit and zest and 1 for seeds and segment membranes

  • Chef's knife

  • Candy Thermometer

  • six, half-pint canning jars

  • Cheesecloth with string, to form a bag for seeds and segment membranes

  • Food processor

  • heat resistant spoon

Ingredients for Lemon and Fig Marmalade

  • 2.5 pound of lemons

  • 10 oz dried figs, rehydrate in warm water for 30-60 minutes.

  • 4 to 6 cups of water

  • 4 to 6 cups of granulated sugar

*Notes: The proportion of lemon segments to water to sugar is 1:1:1. Before adding the water and sugar, it is best to remeasure the lemons(fruit and zest only). If using Meyer lemons with thin skins, the 2.5 pounds of whole lemons should yield 6 cups of chopped lemon segments. Since I used thicker rind lemons and removed the pith from the zest, the 2.5 pounds of whole lemons only yielded about 4.5 cups, therefore I reduced the amount of water and sugar proportionally( 4.5 cups each lemons, water, granulated sugar).

Directions for Lemon and Fig Marmalade

  1. Prepare the lemons. Prior to cutting, wash/scrub the lemon skins. Pat dry. Cut off the ends of the lemons (about 1/4 inch). Stand the lemon on the end, cut lengthwise to halve the lemon. Cut the halved lemon into lengthwise segments. Peel away the segment membrane and set aside in a bowl to use in the pectin bag. Cut the lemon segments into smaller pieces (triangle shape about 1/4 inch thick). Remove the seeds from the fruit. Save the seeds and place in a bowl with the segment membranes to use in the pectin bag. If using a thicker skinned lemon, remove the pith from the zest. Discard the bitter pith, but save the zest. Finely chop the zest, and into the bowl with the triangle cuts of fruit.

  2. Lay out a double layer of cheesecloth, place all the seeds and segment membranes in the center of the cheesecloth and gather the ends. Tie tightly with cooking string.

  3. Measure (in cups) the slices of fruit and zest. Place into a large stock pot with the appropriate amount of water (see note). Remember it is a 1:1:1 ratio of lemon, water, sugar.

  4. Place the pectin bag into the stockpot and secure to the handle. Bring the water, lemons, and pectin bag to a boil, uncovered. If too much water evaporates and the lemons begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, add a little more water. Cook for 25-35 minutes until the fruit and zest are soft. Remove from the heat.

  5. Remove the pectin bag and allow to cool. When cool enough to touch, squeeze out the excess pectin from the bag.

  6. Cut the rehydrated figs into four pieces. Place into a food processor with few tablespoons of liquid/cooked lemons. Pulse until it forms a paste. Add the fig paste and sugar to the stockpot of lemons and water.

  7. Return the stock pot to heat source and cook over medium-high heat, bringing to a rapid boil. Stir occasionally to prevent fruit from sticking. Cook for 20 to 35 minutes. Temperature should reach 220 degrees F. Begin to check temperature after 15 minutes of cooking.

  8. While the marmalade is cooking, sterilize the clean canning jars ( not the lids) by placing them on a cookie sheet into a 200 degree F oven. Allow jars to heat for at least 10 minutes before filling.

  9. Boil water. Place canning lids and rings in a large glass or ceramic casserole dish. Pour the boiling water over the lids and rings to sterilize.

  10. Check your marmalade for doneness. There are two ways to test if it is ready. One way is by reading the candy thermometer, temp should = 220 degrees F. Be sure that the thermometer is not touching the metal sides or bottom of the pot. The other method is used if you do not have a thermometer. Place a small plate into the freezer. After the marmalade has been boiling for 20 minutes, carefully, using the tip of a spoon, place one to two drops of the marmalade onto the chilled plate. If it spreads immediately, it is not ready. Cook 5 -10 minutes longer. If it holds it's shape and wrinkles up when your fingertip pushes it, the lemon fig marmalade done.

  11. Remove the canning jars from the oven. Be very careful when ladeling the marmalade into the jars! The glass jars and the marmalade are extremely hot. Fill each jar, leaving about 1/4 inch head space. Wipe the rim with a clean, damp paper towel. Place the lid and ring onto the jar.

  12. Allow the lemon fig marmalade jars to sit overnight. You will hear the lids pop as they cool, creating a vacuum seal.

Recipe courtesy of FoodandGladness.com