As promised, more citrus action: a take on my favorite cranberry chutney, this time with Meyer lemons.
This recipe started out as a Meyer lemon marmalade; hence the marmalade-esque process of slicing, measuring, adding water, and simmering of the lemons. The next day I decided that I wanted to try a chutney instead, so I drained the lemons and adapted a cranberry chutney recipe. There may be no need for preparing the citrus pectin as described below, but I do think there is a need to soften the Meyers before they go into the chutney, so even if you don’t plan to reserve the liquid, I would soak the lemons overnight prior to making the chutney.
I haven’t opened a jar yet: this chutney really needs to sit and age for at least a month before I can judge taste. But Meyers are in season now, and will likely be gone in another month: get ‘em while the gettin’s good, I say. I got my organic Meyers from the Lemon Ladies orchard in Emerald Hills, CA. I’d heard great things about the Lemon Ladies and their lemons, and I have to say, I was not disappointed: the fruit was gorgeous, perfectly ripe, perfectly fragrant. Picked on a Sunday, shipped on a Monday, and at my door by Wednesday morning. I haven’t been such a fan of Meyer lemons in the past, but these may just have changed my mind: I seem to be hoarding the last two of my batch, waiting for the perfect, special use for them.
I have a few more Meyer tricks up my sleeve before the (all-too-brief) season passes us by: in the meantime, try out this chutney. Then we can all wait a month together to see how it turns out!
- 1 lb Meyer lemons, preferably organic
- filtered water
- 1 lb (a generous 4 cups) cranberries, fresh or frozen, preferably organic
- 1 and 1/2 cups white wine vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 1 cup (5 oz) chopped red onion
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium habañero pepper, minced (about 2 packed tsp), fresh or frozen, with seeds (or without, as to your preference)
- 2 cups raw sugar (organic turbinado)
- 2 tsp crumbled dried mint
- 1 and 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/4 cup (1 oz) finely chopped green bell pepper (optional)
- Day 1. Scrub lemons well and quarter lengthwise. Remove seeds and middle pith: reserve in a tea ball or cheesecloth square. Thinly slice lemon sections, cross-wise, and transfer to a measuring cup, saving as much juice as possible. Measure amount of lemons + juice and transfer, with an equal volume of filtered water, to a large saucepan. Add cheesecloth pouch or tea ball of seeds + pith to the pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and store, either refrigerated or at room temperature, overnight.
- Day 2. Test your lemon peel: if it cuts apart easily with the side of a spoon, it is ready. If not, bring the entire mixture to a simmer in a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Then proceed with the recipe. Strain lemon mixture, reserving the liquid. Remove seed + pith ball; discard.
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Add strained lemons, cranberries, vinegar, 1/2 cup filtered water, onion, garlic and habañero to a large, wide stockpot or Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until approximately half of the cranberries have burst, about 10 minutes. Add sugar, mint, salt and cinnamon stick. Stir untill sugar dissolves, then simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to mound on the back of a spoon, about 30 – 60 minutes.
- Remove cinnamon stick and discard. Add bell pepper (if using) and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings or sweetener: if the flavor needs a Meyer lemon boost, add a bit of the reserved Meyer pectin, about 1 tbsp at a time (reserve remaining pectin for another recipe). Ladle hot chutney into hot, sterilized jars to 1/2-inch headspace. Remove bubbles, wipe rims, afix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Yields approximately 7 cups.
- I added green bell pepper at the end of the cooking time, similar to my gingery chutney recipe, but it seemed to add a bitterness that I didn’t like. I liked the flavor profile better before I added it: perhaps this will mellow as the chutney sits on the shelf, or perhaps a sweeter pepper, yellow or orange, would be a better choice here. You can always omit the pepper if you choose.
- If you don’t have dried mint, you could substitute one or two clean, fresh mint leaves per jar. Dried basil might be a nice substitute as well.
- Meyer lemons are a hybrid of Mandarin oranges and regular lemons: if you can’t source Meyer lemons, you could try this with 1/2 lb of oranges and 1/2 lb of regular lemons.
- Start with half of a seeded habañero if you are not sure of your spice tolerance. You can always add more; however if you wish to switch to a milder chile, do not exceed the amount of pepper (approximately 2 tsp minced), to maintain the overall acidity and safety of the recipe for canning.
- The proportions of acid:non-acid ingredients are derived from the cranberry chutney recipe in the Ball Book. This chutney should be well acidic enough, as 2 cups of cranberries were replaced with 1 pound (about 2 and 1/2 cups, sliced) Meyer lemons. The vegetable amounts remained the same.
Canned, in a cool dark spot, for up to 1 year. Flavors will blend and mellow if you allow to sit at least 3 weeks before using.
Meyer lemons have a short season, usually January in California, though earlier in Texas. Fresh cranberries are available starting in late October and continuing through December most years. I used frozen cranberries and fresh Meyer lemons.