Can Jam: Lemon Lavender Marmalade

April’s Can Jam assignment was herbs, which are, according to the Tigressgenerally considered the leafy green parts of a plant (flowers, too!) while spices are derived from other parts of the plant, particularly the seeds, berries, bark and roots.”  It’s a lovely category; wide open with choices, and I’m excited to see what the variety & inventiveness of the Can Jammers can deliver. Problem is, here in New York, as Marisa reminds us,  April really is the cruelest month: things have started to bud & bloom, but there is not much yet in terms of yield, and the heat and dry weather that so many herbs love is a long way away.

This is where being a prepared locavore comes in handy.  While about the only fresh herb I can access right now is parsley (courtesy of the greenhouses at Madura Farms in Goshen, NY), I’ve still got an decent stash of dried herbs, carefully prepared from last summer’s bounty: basil, mint, sage, and lemon balm. I love, love, love fresh rosemary, and have had my eye on this enormous rosemary plant at Gossett’s Nursery for weeks now; maybe the CanJam is the perfect rationalization inspiration? But then, I remember the lavender.  At the end of last summer, I picked up some culinary lavender from North Winds Farm at my local farm market. I had in mind some crispy tea cookies, infused with lavender and maybe lemon, or perhaps an exotic twist like cardamom or anise.  Well, the cookies haven’t been made (yet!) but I remembered oohing and aahing over The Laundry’s lemon, fig & lavender marmalade back in January’s citrus Jam. And despite the bewildering array of citrus, carrot and allium marmalades that have bubbled & boiled (and sometimes troubled & toiled) in the Can Jammer kitchens over the last three months, I hadn’t made one. Yet.

In comes lemon lavender marmalade. And let me just say – this marmalade is delightful. In the truest sense of the word: full of delight.  I’m so tickled that, on my very first attempt, I got the lavender flavor just right, the sugar level/sweetness perfect, the texture nicely gummy but still spreadable, even the added little swank of lavender buds in the finished product; it all just makes me smile.  And the flavor? Oh, my. You know when you stumble upon that perfect white wine?  The one that is apply, without tasting of apples; floral, without tasting of flowers; crisp and refreshing without being overly acidic, and sweet without being, well, sweet? This is the marmalade version of that wine.  How such a layered flavor was produced from only four ingredients I’ll never know; the lavender somehow tames the bitter/sour flavor of the lemon without adding an overly floral taste, the lemons taste sweet, and bright, and lemony, the sweetness of the sugar is perfectly balanced with the tartness of the lemon.  If Spring were a marmalde, this would be it.  Really – I could stop here all day and rave about how good this is, but don’t take my word for it: make it.  Four ingredients. Two days. One blissful batch o’ jam.

For more herb and flower preserving ideas, dive into the April CanJam round-up over at Tigress in a Jam.

Adapated from Lemon Ginger Marmalade in Gourmet Preserves by Madelaine Bullwinkel

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Lemon Lavender Marmalade

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb lemons, preferably organic (about 3 medium)
  • 2 tbsp (1/4 oz) + 1 tsp dried culinary lavender, divided (or 2 cups fresh lavender flowers)
  • 2 – 3 cups (1 to 1.5 lb) sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt

METHODS

  1. Day 1. Scrub lemons well and slice lengthwise into 8 sections (I find this easiest with a serrated knife). Remove seeds and reserve in a small bowl. Thinly slice sections, cross-wise, and transfer to a quart measuring cup, trying to save as much juice as possible.  Measure amount of lemons + juice (I had 2 and 1/2 cups).
  2. Measure out an equal amount of filtered water into a medium saucepan.  Add lemon seeds and 2 tbsp lavender; bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat and steep for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours.
  3. Strain lavender water into a measuring cup, squeezing the lavender buds to eek out all the liquid, then discard seeds and lavender buds.  Add additional filtered water to bring volume back up to original amount (i.e. 2 and 1/2 cups for me) if necessary.  Return lavender water to the saucepan, add lemons + juice and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, skimming foam if necessary. Turn off heat, allow to come to room temperature, then cover and allow to sit at room temperature overnight.
  4. Day 2. If canning, prepare canner, jars & lids.
  5. Measure lemon mixture (I had exactly 3 cups).  Transfer lemon mixture to a large saucepan or small stockpot. Add salt. Measure out sugar to your taste (most recipes will tell you to add an equal amount of sugar (i.e. 3 cups), but I usually find that too sweet, so I added 2 cups): add sugar in 1/2 cup increments, allowing the marmalade to come to a boil in between additions. Once all the sugar is added, boil, stirring frequently until the marmalade reaches the gel point, or 8 degrees higher than boiling water on your thermometer (220 degrees F at sea level); taste a cooled sample of marmalade during cooking to adjust sugar, if desired. Boil one extra minute once you have reached the gel point, then remove from heat and transfer to a large, heat-safe bowl.
  6. Allow marmalade to sit, cooling, for a minute or two; it should start gelling quite quickly. Stir down the pieces of fruit, then stir in 1 tsp of dried lavender.  Fill hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch headspace, wipe rims, affix lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yields about 3 and 1/2 cups.

OPTIONS

  1. The original recipe called for 3 quarter-sized slices of ginger in place of the lavender.  She did not do a pre-boil in water alone; simply added water, lemons, ginger and simmered for 15 minutes prior to an overnight rest.  There was no instruction to remove the ginger the next day, but I am assuming that you should, given the large pieces (rather than a mince).  Due to the acidity of this marmalade, you could safely mince the ginger and leave it in the final product, should you wish.
  2. The original recipe also called for an equal amount of sugar and Day 2 lemon mixture. I reduced this to 2/3rd sugar.
  3. You could replace 2 tbsp of dried lavender with 2 cups of fresh lavender flowers.
  4. This marmalade is a good candiate for refined white sugar, if only to preserve the gorgeous pinky-yellow color of lavender-infused lemon.  I never have refined sugar in the house, but also, I don’t really like the taste of it, so I went for taste over beauty.

STORE

Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.  Refrigerated, eat within 3 months.

SEASON

Winter is peak citrus season, and good for dried lavender use, but summer is lavender flower season. Basically, this is a good year-round recipe.

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28 comments

  1. You definitely sold it to me. It is always tricky getting flower and herb flavours just right, not too much or too little, so that is clever that you managed it first time. I usually have to remake my recipes over again. This marmalade looks totally desirable and one to bookmark and return to.

  2. That spread looks amazing! My own experimentation with lavender this month has inspired me into doing more research on infusing spreads and foods with this lovely, fragrant bud. Your labels are gorgeous, too. What tools/tech do you use to make them?

  3. I was really surprised at how the lavender affected the whole flavor profile of the marmalade; definitely, in Tigress’ words an ‘essential’ ingredient. I’m also inspired now to use it in other recipes.

    Thanks for the compliment on the labels! The design was inpired by Lelo in Nopo, who sells a PDF template of her gorgeous labels here:

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/37904161/custom-label-for-your-canned-goods-plum?ref=em

    I do mine in MS Word, which is cumbersome, but workable. The original template took a long time but now that I have few colors done, it is pretty quick to modify. I also use a round Avery label that is almost exactly the same size as a standard-mouth jar lid; downloading that template from Avery makes it easier.

  4. Anduin

    I am on day 2 of this and I’m so excited. You described it so well that I put everything aside to make this. I’m actually doing 3 different versions: lavender, herbs de provence, and tom collins (juniper and gin). It’s so fun to have the three different kinds waiting to be finished and canned. Thanks for the inspiration. I’ll let you know how the others turn out!

  5. You know, I’m usually not a big lavender person, but I think you may have sold me on this marmalade. I’ve always found lavender on its own to be a bit overwhelming, and the same with marmalade, but the two together, taming each other? Sounds like just my thing!

  6. Anduin

    You weren’t kidding. That has got to be the most amazing thing in the world. Of the three I made, the lavender is definitely the best. The others are great; the herbes de provence is especially nice on a cracker, and would be good with some cheese too. The gin in the Tom Collins gives it a nice, surprising depth. But Oh the lavender…it is just plain amazing. With every bite I’m genuinely surprised at how good it is. I love my little jars of herbed lemon marmalades. Thanks!

  7. So glad it worked out for you – and I’m so impressed with your three different versions! I have a jar of herbes de Provence in the pantry and now you’ve got me thinking….

  8. I’ve made a vanilla lemon marmalade before, but never lavender…it sounds wonderful. I’m definitely putting this on the must-make list. Thanks!

  9. Meghan

    hello! I’m so excited to find your recipe, as I’ve been dreaming of making lavender marmalade for a while and yours looks so well recommended and received! I’m ending day one, and just tasted the mix and I don’t taste much of the lavender at all, despite doing the correct ratios (4 cups rind+juice to 4 cups lavender water). Is this to be expected, you think? I was contemplating making more lavender-infused water and adding it, but of course wouldn’t want to ruin the end consistency. I’m just afraid it will be overwhelmingly lemony somehow! Let me know if you have any advice, I’d appreciate it!

  10. Hi Meghan,

    A lack of lavender flavor could be due to any number of things: maybe I let mine steep in the water for longer (I seem to recall it was at least the afternoon), or perhaps my lavender source was fresher or more fragrant, or maybe you just want more lavender! :)

    I would recommend at this point infusing more lavender into a simple syrup, instead of plain water, and using that to replace some of the sugar. I didn’t taste the juice before making the actual marmalade, so I’m not sure if the flavor of the lavender comes out on cooking and/or adding sugar. What I would probably do is make a thick simple syrup (1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 cup water) and infuse that with more lavender, letting it simmer and steep for a bit. Then I would proceed to begin the marmalade; add about 1 cup of sugar and cook for a bit, then taste and see if the lavender is coming through any more. If not, go ahead and add your infused simple syrup, then add the last 1/2 cup of sugar (or more if you like it sweeter).

    I haven’t tried this with this particular recipe, but it is probably how I would go about it. If you try it, let me know how it all turns out.

  11. Meghan

    Thank you so much for your advice! I’m new to jamming and I never would have thought of doing that (as obvious as it may have seemed!) I just went ahead and added the lavender simple syrup when cooking, and this did help create more of a balance, instead of overwhelming lemon. Mine became somewhat brown in the cooking process – nowhere near the beautiful color yours is! (maybe I cooked it too long/burned it?) I also got a little antsy and didn’t actually wait overnight to do it, and worried I let it gel too long – It was so thick that it was difficult to pack tightly into the jars without any air bubbles. So many variables! Thank you again for your suggestions – I’ll be coming back to your blog regularly for more recipe ideas!

  12. Hi Meghan,

    No worries, we jammers have to stick together. :)

    Making preserves is really an iterative process; even now, with 100s of recipes under my belt, it’s rare that new recipe comes out exactly how I wanted it. Once you have a few tries in hand, you know exactly how much lavender, how long to cook it for, how much sugar, etc., to make it perfect for you.

  13. thanks for guiding me so steadfastly through my maiden marmalade voyage! i just made this exactly as written, except with meyer lemons instead of regular ol lemons. it’s lovely! and yummy! (best combo ever.) thanks again!

    autumn

  14. Brooke - in Oregon

    This is actually the jam that started me on my canning journey! I made a blackberry/lavender sorbet (that was amazing!!) so I was hunting for other things to create using lavender. I found this post and as they say the rest is history! lol This turned out amazing, thank you for all the time and energy you put into sharing! Here’s to 2011, more jams and some pickling too!! :) on my wish list for this year is a large enamel pot!! After 33 years of marriage you would think that would be something I would already have! lol

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  20. Michelle

    Thank you for this beautiful recipe. I am only new to jam making and I was really please with the result (and the wonderful aroma in my kitchen). I can’t wait to break open a jar and enjoy this on toast.

  21. Cheryl Taylor

    I made and was disappointed because the bitterness of the lemons I used completely ruined it. I did have a gorgeous color and perfect consistency. But I ended up throwing it all out. It was just inedible. I think that the white part of the lemon just ruined it. I am going to re-make it, but this time I am only going to use the yellow peel and remove all the pith and keep the flesh. I’m not sure if there is an easier way of doing it. If you a suggestion, I would appreciate it. I think it will make a lovely gift for the holidays if I can fix this issue.

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