December 2, 2012

Seasonal Regional: The lemons of Yinnar

With Christmas holidays looming large the weekend was scheduled for visiting family and friends, and as I tootled around southern Victoria I discovered that not only is the quaint little hamlet of Yinnar a delightful location for catching up and taking in some much needed country air, it’s also a fabulous place for growing lemons.

It was a glorious and sunny afternoon when I arrived at my friends’ property so we immediately took to the yard. As we wandered around we came across their lemon tree, so heavily laden with fruit it was almost comical (I’d wager the lemon to leaf ratio was at least three to one). The look of envy must have been obvious as my hosts suggested I take some with me and, having naturally obliged, as I journeyed home the following day I had but one thing in mind…

During my last trip to London I came across London Borough of Jam, a delightful little preserving service that produces some of the most exquisite jams and preserves imaginable. While everything I sampled was exceptional it was the lemon vanilla marmalade in particular that took my fancy, and since my reserves have now well and truly dried up, I thought it high time I attempt making my own.

A quick literature search identified a number of methods that seemed popular, and so I took a comparative approach. The first applied a safe and simple technique in which the finely sliced rind was repeatedly blanched before being gently simmered with the sugar and reserved juice.

The second, while equally hands-on required much more time as the whole lemons were boiled until tender before then being sliced and simmered.

Both were suitably delicious and enjoyed their own particular appeal. For those who prefer a strong marmalade the rind of the first had a lot more bite, while the second was more subtle, being much more jam-like in nature.

Personally I prefer the first. The textures were more suited to my tastes and I found it had greater aesthetic appeal, as boiling the pith for the second method produced a white fleck that ran through what was also a darker, more amber hue. That said, the texture and translucency of the boiled lemons was incredible and something that must certainly be experimented with in future.

If you’re not a marmalade fan I doubt either of these will convert you as they both carry that fabulous bitterness so fundamental to any peel-based fruit preserve. But if you enjoy such treats then I highly recommend giving the lemon vanilla variety a go - it’s delicious.


Anonymous said...

Wow - your marmalade looks beautiful. I usually go for technique number 2 so that I can simmer the fruit whenever I get a moment - and this means I can avoid having to reboil it with the seeds in a cloth - I can just toss them because all of the pectin has already been released.

I can also recommend using a few underdeveloped lemons or limes to the mix of fruit - they contain more pectin and reaching 'gelling' point takes less time.

Em Hart said...

Great tips, thanks Anon. I'll definitely trying throwing in a few young fruit on my next attempt. Another reader also passed on their method, which involves soaking the peel overnight, so it seems my marmalade making days are only just beginning!
x Miss Em