it’s a lemon… it’s a tangerine… it’s a meyer lemon!!!

Buckle up folks, here goes my first attempt at a post about my actual purpose:  jam-making.  I do so love rambling on about food finds, but the objective of the blog was to document my efforts at making jam and taking it to market.  So, onward! 

juicy Meyer lemons

Wednesday evening saw me in the throes of a new kind of jam session  (technically marmalade, but that just doesn’t sound right – “marmalade session”)!  We’ve been at this now for several months, but seeing as this was to be my first jam-making-related post, I decided to try a new concoction from scratch:  lemon marmalade.  However, when I went to stock up on ingredients, I found not only lemons, but Meyer lemons….  hmmmm…..  I was not exactly sure what a Meyer lemon was, but something told me that it was a shi-shi version of the standard lemon, which fit the profile of Mass A’Peel perfectly.  Thus, I opted for the Meyer lemon! 

What IS a Meyer lemon, you ask?  It is generally thought to be an asian citrus fruit that is essentially a marriage of a lemon and a tangerine:  you have the tart lemon flavor accented by the fresh, sweet, aromatic zest reminiscent of a tangerine.  In appearance, the Meyer lemon looks much more like an orange than a lemon — but boy what a shock to the uninitiated palate!!!  while looking and smelling more orange/tangerine-like, the taste is definitively that of a lemon.  As my husband would say, it’ll make your pucker schmucker! 

the uncut version

The Meyer lemon was named after a USDA “agricultural explorer” (his mission was to collect samples of “new” plant species for the US government) named Frank Meyer, who brought what is now known as the Meyer lemon plant back to the United States from China in 1908.  While present in the US for over 100 years now, the Meyer lemon had a rocky start…  The Meyer lemon varietal that was initially introduced to the US was an asymptomatic carrier of a virus that kills or renders all types of citrus trees useless for fruit production.  In order to preserve the citrus industry as a whole, Meyer lemon trees were destroyed.  It was not until the 1970s that a new strain of the Meyer lemon tree was approved for use, thereby essentially re-introducing the Meyer lemon tree to the general population.  Not long thereafter, the Meyer lemon obtained more wide-spread recognition with the rise of “celebrity chefs” and their documented use of the fruit. 

ready to can

Back to the jam-session…  I cut, sliced and seeded, and yes, the Meyer lemons are amazingly fresh and fragrant!  I added some yummy side-notes — ginger, mint and lemongrass — and began to cook.  Now, for those of you who have never made jam, jelly, preserves, conserves, marmalade, etc…  there is a definite science to the process!!!  How hot to get the concoction?  How long to cook?  When to add sugar?  To pectin or not to pectin?  And if using, when?  I am a good cook, who is still learning all of this science (come on — this should come as no surprise!!!  I went to a liberal-arts college followed by law school…  not a lot of math or science going on there!).  And, to top it off, I forgot my thermometer.  I guesstimated on the times, was nervous that I was cooking the marmalade too hot, too long (this can cause the marmalade to become grainy and/or too thick – more like a paste), feared that I added too little water, etc…  but in the end, the result was amazing!  Perfect.  I am headed out to buy more Meyer lemons.  

Now, if I could only come up with a name for it…  (“Lemon Tree Very Pretty” or “Oh I Wish I Were A Meyer Lemon Marmalade“) — the names of my marmalades are all based on songs…  puns, plays on words, etc…  and one may not get the flavor just from the name, but will need to read the subtext, a la Ben & Jerry’s.  I mean, who would EVER know that Chubby Hubby is malt-flavored ice cream with peanut butter swirl and chocolate covered pretzels???  So, if anyone in the Blogosphere has a campy, creative Meyer lemon name, let’s hear it! 

finished product

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