When Life Gives You Lemons…

…Make lemon marmalade!

Lots of Lemons!

I’ve been given quite a few lemons over the last few months and I can’t allow them to go to waste. I still have a lot of lemon juice in my freezer from last year, so there’s no reason to juice them. I found this recipe for Instant Pot orange marmalade recently and decided that it would be a good place to start working on my lemon problem. (Is having too many lemons really a problem? I don’t think so.)  I have an electric pressure cooker that isn’t the Instant Pot brand, but it works just as well.

This isn’t so much a recipe as a formula.  The difference being that a recipe gives amounts and a formula gives ratios.  As a scientist, I’m very partial to formulas.  I started with the weight of the lemons.  I did have a couple that were bad (they looked OK on the outside) so I subtracted the weight of the bad ones and ended with a fruit weight of 1.2kg.  As a scientist, I’m also very partial to metric measurements.  This recipe/formula will work with standard measurements as well but the math is a bit harder.

Weigh those lemons!

Since I’m working with lemons I  needed to add more sugar than I would if I was working with sweet citrus, such as oranges.  I decided to go for a fruit to sugar ratio of 1:1.5.  For oranges I would have used something like a 1:1.2 ratio.  The math goes like this:
1.2kg of fruit x 1.5 = 1.8kg of sugar.
The result was a preserve with a good gel that was still a bit tart.  Just the way I like it!  It was also convenient that a 4lb bag of sugar weighs 1.8kg.  I didn’t plan that, it just happened.

Just the right amount of sugar!

The math is done so it’s time to get to work.  I washed the lemons; I quartered, thinly sliced, and dumped them into the cooking insert of the pressure cooker along with a cup of water.  The amount of water wasn’t too critical as it was boiled off later in the process.

Next I put the lid on and programmed the cooker to high pressure for 15 minutes.  When the time was up I let the pressure decrease naturally for about 15 minutes.  (I forgot to take a picture at the point so you’ll just have to imagine a pot of well cooked lemon bits.)

Next the sugar went in — I just dumped it all in there and started stirring.

At this point I boiled it all down to the point that it gels.  For my cooker I set it to brown.  Other cookers may call that setting something else (simmer, boil, etc.)

After the sugar and fruit mixture started to boil I stirred it constantly until it reached 220F.  Be careful — that is really hot and the sugary syrup can cause a very bad burn.

Once the mixture reached 220F, I turned off the heat, ladled the marmalade into clean jars and processed them in a boiling water bath.

My big bowl of gifted lemons gave me a total of 11 jars of sweet, tart, lemony goodness.

To recap the process:

  •  Weigh the lemons
  • Calculate the amount of sugar by multiplying the weight of the lemons by 1.5
  • Wash, quarter, and thinly slice the lemons into the cooker pot.
  • Add 1 cup of water to the pot.
  • Set the pot for 15 minutes cook time at high pressure.
  • Let the pot pressure decrease for 15 minutes then release any remaining pressure by opening the valve.
  • Add the weighed amount of sugar to the pot and stir to mix well.
  • Turn on the brown or boil function on the pot.  Boil the mixture until it reaches 220F.
  • Ladle the finished marmalade into clean, hot jars.  Seal and process in a boiling water bath.
  • Let cool and enjoy!


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