Making marmalade doesn't need to be complicated or fiddly. Actually, you really only need only two ingredients.
If you're a marmalade skeptic, start with this marmellata di limoni, which is extraordinarily simple and low maintenance. You just need a few hours up your sleeve, some good music (or good company), and a watchful eye while you let the lemons boil away, perfuming your entire house like the best aromatherapy you've ever experienced.
In Italy, making jam (marmellata or confettura) is traditionally found all over the peninsula, just as you’d expect from a cuisine that still relies heavily on the seasons to dictate what’s on the table (and preserve it for later on in the year). It’s usually eaten for breakfast or turned into tarts known as crostata.
Lemon marmalade is made most notably where you find profuse amounts of lemons. There's Campania’s Amalfi coast, where the lemons grow larger and sweeter than anywhere else. And, of course, Sicily, where lemons have been growing since the Middle Ages, one of the many exotic and beautiful things brought to the region when it was an Arabic island.
While the classic English-style citrus marmalade results in a crystal clear jam punctuated with finely sliced citrus peel, Sicilian recipes for marmalade are a thick purée of blended fruit. The recipe requires first boiling the lemons whole (oh, the perfume of citrus!) rather than chopping peel, sieving out the pith, or any of that. You only need to scoop out the pulp to remove the seeds and then pulse everything in a food processor, blender, or—the more traditional way—pass it through a passatutto or food mill (and in this case, you don't need to scoop out the pulp to remove the seeds, as the food mill will be filter them out).
The result is a perfectly smooth, perfumed, bittersweet jewel-toned jam. Spoon it onto buttered toast, drizzle it over some yogurt, or try a spoonful in a mug of black tea to sweeten it. This would also be lovely to cook desserts with, not only in a crostata, but also brushed over a plain sponge cake (this one is my favorite—it's fluffy and light and happens to be gluten-free. Or for a triple-threat lemon layer cake, try it in in this recipe, swapping it in for the raspberry jam.
- 2 pounds (1 kilogram) organic, unwaxed lemons
- 10 cups (4.4 pounds or 2 kilograms) sugar
Do you make marmalade? Tell us about it in the comments.