Lime Marmalade: Labor of Love

Beware tough rinds

Beware tough rinds

On my recent trip to the British Virgin Islands, I discovered lime marmalade. I’d only ever had the orange variety, and frankly, it’s not one of my favorites. Lime marmalade, however, was an instant hit with me and my travel buddies. I was resolved to look up recipes and make it upon my return.

Basic lime marmalade has only three ingredients: lime, water and sugar. I read several recipes and landed on the following formula for about 1 liter of marmalade.

  • 8 limes
  • 3.5 cups water
  • 4-5 cups sugar

Start by slicing the limes as thinly as possible. Make an effort not to squeeze out too much juice. A sharp knife helps. Soak the limes in the 3.5 cups of water overnight to remove bitterness.

The next day, put the limes and their water in a pot or large saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until rinds are tender, about 30-45 minutes. I tested my rinds with a fork, and it got me into trouble down the line. Make sure to remove a rind and chew on it. They’re not done until you bite through it easily.

Preheat the oven to 250˚F

Remove from heat and transfer the limes to a bowl using a measuring cup. Measure out one cup of sugar for every cup of lime-water mixture and place the sugar in a baking dish (I used a cake pan). Stick the pan in the oven to heat the sugar. Meanwhile, bring the limes back to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, remove the sugar from the oven and add to the limes. Stir in the sugar with as few strokes as possible, and do not stir again until it has returned to a boil.

At this point, put a couple saucers in the freezer. Let the limes and sugar boil, uncovered, for about ten minutes, then put a spoonful on one of the frozen saucers. Once cooled, the marmalade should be thick. Keep testing every 5 minutes until it has fully jelled (it took me about 20 mins.). At this point you can put the marmalade in sterilized jars. You’re done!

That is, unless you undercooked the rinds, as I did. After 40 minutes of simmering the lime rinds, they were easily pierced with a fork, and I called it a day. When I spread some marmalade on toast later that night, they were too tough to chew. I was not happy.

This evening, I found a lovely solution. I placed the open jar of marmalade in a small saucepan of boiling water to melt the jelly. I then forced the marmalade through a sieve with a rubber spatula. The result, a lime sauce that was AMAZING over ice cream. Also good on toast.  So, all is not lost, but next time I will simmer those rinds more thoroughly!

This recipe is for straight up lime marmalade, but you could blend different citrus fruits or even add mint. Does anyone have other ideas for lime marmalade?

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