Knowing exactly what ingredients are in your food is always reassuring when you’re training or racing. But the feeling of using ingredients that you’ve grown is even better – especially when they’re Spanish lemons for homemade marmalade.
Our villa has some beautiful lemon trees in the grounds, and every year I harvest the fruit for a lemon marmalade that our guests love. I appreciate not everyone can grow their own lemons, but it works just as well with shop-bought fruit, and will be just as satisfying. I promise.
Here’s the recipe I follow. It produces roughly six jars, and makes for the perfect sweet treat to accompany a balanced breakfast when you’re heading out for a day on the bike.
1kg unwaxed lemons
1.5kg granulated brown sugar
Wash the lemons and remove the top ‘button’ which would have been attached to the stalk, plus any other imperfections you don’t want in your marmalade.
Put the lemons in a large saucepan with 2.5 litres of water, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 2.5 hours or until the lemon skins are lovely and tender and can be pierced easily with a fork (my Mallorcan lemons only took 1.25 hours).
When the lemons have cooled, remove from the saucepan. Measure the cooking liquid – you’ll need 1.5 litres in total. If you don’t quite have this, make up the difference with water. If you have too much liquid, bring to the boil and reduce to the required amount.
Halve the lemons and remove the pips. Put the pips and any juice you can save to one side. Cut the lemon peel and flesh into strips, as thick or thin as you like. Put all of this, including any saved juices, back into the pan. Put the pips in a small piece of muslin and tie up with string. Add this to the pan, as the pips will aid the setting process of the marmalade.
Add the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring until it has completely dissolved. Boil rapidly for about 20 minutes until the setting point is reached. You can test this by dropping a little marmalade onto a chilled saucer, allowing it to cool for 1 minute, then pushing gently with your finger. If the marmalade crinkles, the setting point is reached. If not, continue to boil and check again in a few minutes.
Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes (this will prevent the lemon shreds sinking to the bottoms of the jars), remove the muslin bag, then gently stir in one direction to disperse any small air bubbles on the surface. Pour the marmalade into warm, sterilised jars and seal straight away.