Saturday, February 26, 2011

Meyer Lemon Friday

I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor.
-D.H. Lawrence

Tonight I went to a jam-making/pickling class with INNA Jam! Needless to say, it was both interesting and a lot of fun. Our focus was Meyer Lemons: how to turn them into a jam (kind of like a marmelade) and how to turn them into a savory pickled topping that could spruce up some asparagus, fish, the works. I first tried this brand of jam back in October when I had gone to the Spice of Life festival; I remembered thinking how good it was--not too sweet and quite textured with lots of fruity chunks--and quickly discovered a favorite breakfast meal of toast with cream cheese and pluot-flavored jam. I liked it so much that I was even compelled to buy it for my family and take it back in my checked luggage for Christmas presents, which, considering TSA will always find an excuse to violate your privacy and dig through your bag, meant that one of the jars--the raspberry one--spilled on my favorite white pajamas. Besides being angry that both my privacy and fine packing were violated, I was largely angry that quality jam had been wasted on stupidity.



So, when I saw, via Facebook (liking a company/product and getting updates and information is one of the only reasons I stay on the site), that this class was being offered, I figured it was a fantastic way to spend a Friday evening, meeting new people, learning some tricks of the jam/pickling trade and being able to bring home one jar of each of the finished products. You see,
despite not being afraid to try most new recipes, I never really strayed into canning, preserving, pickling, etc. Though my grandparents always did things like make their own pasta and bake bread, they never really did much with the fruit from the various trees in their yard--from pears to crabapples--besides bake with them or eat them as an evening snack, unadorned and in the raw. Before tonight, the only occasion on which I was ever even witness to jam-making was when the Greek made Grape Jam back in November. It was such an intriguing process to watch: all the sugar and fruit merging into a thick and gooey substance that was just waiting for a nice loaf of bread!



Based on that experience alone, I knew I wanted to try again (Greek-style jam apparently lacks pectin, which means that it will never be as thick as the jam texture that Americans are used to; this is not to say, however, that it and peanut butter don't make for a killer sandwich) and with different fruit. You know, to test the limits of jam, its textures and its flavors. Now that I've got a little more confidence about how this is supposed to be done--and all through the help of sweet and tangy lemons--I may just be ready to try strawberry or, even better, my favorite blueberry. Clearly, I'll keep you updated; this is just the beginning. And it might also finally be the straw that breaks the camel's back of my resistance to abandoning measuring cups and buying a kitchen scale.

In the meantime, here are some ideas for do-it-yourself jam-making and pickling:
Making Jams, Marmelades, Preserves...
Jam Session with Molly Wizenberg
Pickling Lemons from Tigress in a Pickle

If you'd like to make the beauty I made above, get yourself two-three unwaxed meyer lemons, cut them into wedges and/or tiny pieces, remove the seeds (it'll make life easier) and place them in a glass or plastic jar. When the jar is half full, add one tablespoon of Kosher salt; when the jar is completely full, but not packed, add another tablespoon of kosher salt. Fill the jar up with lemon juice. Put the lid on (if metal, be sure to cover it with some kind of plastic wrap/baggie, so that it doesn't rust) and turn the jar over so that the liquid and salt can do their magic to all of the lemons. Repeat this process of rotating the jar for up to one month. When this month is up, you can finally enjoy the fruits of your pickling labor!

3 comments:

  1. This is awesome! I am full of suspense for the uncorking of the pickles in a month's time! Love the quote -- and the photo montage too!

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  2. Thanks, Aly! I was thinking of our pasta with the cauliflower, capers and anchovies and how nice these lemon pickles would be as a final touch....perhaps I'll have you over (for the uncorking) and we can revisit the recipe and that cherry tart as well? :) It could be a grand celebratory dinner!

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  3. ooh, yes please! That coconut tart has been floating in and out of my mind lately...I've been on a bit of a coconut kick -- with green curry and granola enhancements (those are, er, two separate kicks...)

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