Tonight is the last episode of Season 2 of Downton Abbey. I know: I’m sad too. It went by so fast! Alas, the war, and the season, is over my friends, and we have nothing to do but contemplate the long, dreary, Downton-less months until Season 3 (with Shirley MacLaine! Shirley and Maggie, throwing down 1920’s style. I can hardly wait.) So what do I, a lowly food blogger with neither manor house, liveried servants, nor fabulous peacock-feathered hats, have to offer you as consolation for this terrible loss? Why, marmalade, of course!
Meyer lemon champagne marmalade, to be exact. Meyer lemons, because only the most cheerful, sunshiny and exotically flavored fruit will suffice to haul us out of the Downton Abbey doldrums. Champagne, because only the most bubbly, crisp, and celebratory of libations can convince us that one day, in the not-too-distant future, good things will happen. Gowns will be donned. Intrigue will abound. Eyes will be rolled. Oh yes, they will.
This, however, is not the Dowager Countess’ marmalade: “Champagne? In marmalade? Good heavens. And what is this fruit? An orange? A lemon? Why doesn’t it make up its mind?” Oh no, give Violet good old British marmalade (made with Spanish Seville oranges, naturally) every time. No, this one strikes me as right up Lady Mary’s alley: “Convention be damned! If I want to
make passionate love to a beautiful Turkish gentleman drink my bubbly and eat it too, what you have to say on the subject certainly won’t stop me.” But make no mistake: this marmalade is Downton-worthy. Sweet, but not overly so, perfectly set, lemony and bright, and just ever so bubbly. Mrs. Patmore would be appalled but Sybil would remind us that the world is changing: and any world that includes Bubbly Meyer Marmalade is one worth living in.
So enjoy the last episode this evening, fellow Downton lovers. Then brew up a strong pot of tea, break out the bubbly meyer marm, and invite some friends over. September will be here before you know it!
- 1 lb Meyer lemons, preferably organic
- filtered water
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp champagne or other crisp white wine, divided
- 12 oz (1 and 1/2 cups) sugar (organic white beet sugar)
- Day 1. Scrub fruit well. Slice into quarters, remove the middle, pithy seam and seeds (reserve pith & seeds). Slice each section cross-wise into thin strips, transferring fruit to a large measuring cup as you go, trying to capture all of the juice. Measure out an equal volume of filtered water. Transfer sliced fruit to a wide stockpot or preserving pan. Collect the seeds and pith into a tea ball or cheesecloth bag and add to the pan. Add the water, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, and stir in champagne. Transfer fruit mixture to a bowl, cover and store in the refrigerator overnight.
- Day 2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Bring fruit mixture to a boil over high heat. Add sugar, stirring until it dissolves. Allow to boil vigorously, stirring minimally, until the marmalade reaches the set point: 220 degrees F on an accurate thermometer (or 8 degrees above the temperature of boiling water), about 20 minutes. Allow to boil at 220 degrees for 1 minute. Remove from heat, ball/bag of seeds + pith, and stir in 2 tbsp champagne (slightly flat champagne may be best here). Allow foam to subside, then ladle hot marmalade into hot jars to 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Yields 2 and 1/2 cups.
- While you’re waiting for Downton Abbey’s third season, you may just have to content yourself with Pride & Prejudice. Oh, Mr. Darcy!
Canned, in a cool dark spot, for up to 1 year.