I think that Lisa might actually be the Citrus Goddess of my dreams. Just when I think she's shocked and awed me with not only her fruit selections, but her incredible generosity in sharing these fruits with me, she pulls another trick out of her sleeve. This time, with the box of bergamots that came yesterday, were five Ichangensis lemons. I kind of didn't believe it at first, while I was staring at them in my lap. I was thinking, "there's no way these are what they say they are. How is this even possible?" I was so shocked that I actually set the bergamots (you won't believe this) to the side so I could just stare at this rare and impossible to find fruit for a few minutes.
See, you guys may not know this about me, but bergamot, although my favorite citrus in the world, is not the only citrus I am interested in. I kind of love them all. Everyone of them has its own kind of personality, allure, mystery and thing about it that makes it beautiful and perfect in every way. From the humble Navel orange, to the exotic-looking Buddha's Hand. All of them are perfection; their own unique kind of perfection. There are definitely citrus I prefer over others, but at the end of the day I can't really think of a single one I don't love and appreciate.
There are, however, some citrus I've chosen to put out of my mind forever, because I know deep down I will never get to know them in person. The Ichang lemon was one of those, until yesterday. I didn't ever think I'd ever see one in person, let alone have five of my very own to experience. So when I read the note telling me what they were, I couldn't believe my eyes for a few minutes. Once the shock wore off, I thought about what the best ways I could honor them could be. And what I ultimately decided was that some of them would become marmalade, since what is marmalade if not the boiled down essence of a citrus? Boiled down essence you can enjoy alone, or with other foods. Which gives you a variety of ways to experience the fruit, limited exclusively by the amount of marmalade you've made. This recipe used only two of the five, so the remaining three will be made into candies, with the piths, pips and membranes used to make pectin. Nothing being wasted here!
Anyway, this recipe is pretty similar to the recipe for bergamot marmalade I use. I tasted the juice and peel of these while I was making the marmalade, and they're glorious. The marmalade will be wonderful for a lot of things. However, since I wanted to make sure that I was very, very careful with what I'd made, I canned these in four-ounce jars to ensure there could be no possible wasting of marmalade happening because a jar didn't get used quickly enough once it was opened.
So, although this recipe probably gets filed in a list of recipes most of you won't be able to make, I wanted to share it with you anyway. If you can get your hands on some of these, make this, and enjoy it. If not, you can still use the recipe for citrus you've got available to you. Hope you enjoy!
2 Ichang lemons, zested into strips (I used a zester tool), deseeded and fruit/juice removed from pith and chopped up
5-6 cups water
sugar by volume
After zesting your lemons, put the peels in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil ten minutes, then drain. Add 5-6 water, juice and pulp of lemons, and the pith, seeds and membranes tied up in cheesecloth or in a contained strainer. I normally would only use 4 cups of water, but I decided it'd be worth the extra boiling time to be able to rinse any Ichangensis essence off my plates, bowls and utensils into the large saucepan. Boil the whole thing for 10 minutes more, then remove from heat, cover and let sit overnight. You can let it sit in the fridge or on the back of the stove, whichever you prefer. In the morning, remove the cheesecloth and its contents. Pour the remaining contents of the saucepan into a measuring cup and find out how much is in there. However much is in there, add that much volume of sugar (or a little less, if you prefer marmalade to not be quite so sweet). Also, add the pinch of salt. Boil it, stirring constantly, until it passes the gel test. Ladle your mixture into sterilized four-ounce jars, and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.