Things I’ve Done To Limes

Posted Friday, February 12th, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Yellow Limes

One of the advantages of gardening at Purdue Ave. Farms is the abundant lime tree that is, at this very moment, pregnant with fruit.  Last weekend, Judith sent me home with a huge basket of citrus, leaving me to my own devices as to how to use them all.

And yes, I was determined to use them all.

A quick look in the Ball Home Preserving recipe book gave me my first answer: Lime Ginger Marmalade.  Luckily, my friend Angelique was already on her way over to FarmApartment the night I brought the limes home, so I had my labor force all lined up.  I told her it would be a relatively simple affair. Perhaps because the recipe was called “Quick Lemon Ginger Marmalade.”

Well, anyone who has made marmalade is probably chuckling right now. Any recipe that touts a “Simple” “Quick” or “Easy” process, I’ve now learned, should be taken with a grain of salt. It could mean it “only” takes two hours instead of the usual three!

Much more than just citrus and sugar, marmalade requires quite a bit of time – and patience.  The first step is to remove the skin with a paring knife or vegetable peeler, leaving behind the “albedo,” or “pith” –  the bitter white stuff between the rind and fruit.  As I was attempting to make double the recipe, this took forever, even with two people.

Next, the pith has to be removed from the fruit.  I had no idea how to do this efficiently, and managed to settle on the slowest, most  tedious method, patiently scraping the pith away with a knife.

Luckily, Angelique and I had a bottle of wine open and loads of gossip to catch up on, so we barely noticed the time passing. This mixture of industry and socializing seemed wonderfully old-fashioned and made us both feel like we were “home on the farm.” Neighbors and friends coming together to help each other in the labor intensive chores of keeping house – isn’t that how our grandmothers got by?

Canning, I’ve come to realize, is both a method of preserving food, and a way of preserving time. As the world speeds up and becomes ever more efficient, so many opportunities for these slow, sweet moments of camaraderie and connection, i.e. gettin’ drunk with friends, are lost in the advance of progress.

But, of course, we don’t always have hours to dawdle away. I’ve since discovered – thanks to Kevin West – a much easier way to remove the albedo and pulp the fruit. I used it on my second batch (of tangerine marmalade!), when I didn’t have Angelique’s help to rely on.

Here are Kevin’s instructions:

The technique is to take a peeled fruit and slice a round off both ends, deep enough to reveal the pulp beneath the albedo. Then stand the fruit on one of its flat ends and slice downwards along the fruit’s outside edge to cut away the albedo. Work your way around the perimeter of the entire fruit until you’re left with the beautiful “heart” of the fruit.

Next, once you’ve got your pith – you turn your focus to the pulp. Kevin continues:

Cut the heart crosswise into round 1/2″ slices, and finally quarter each slice. Remove whatever seeds you find. And put the chunked pulp in the preserving pan with the peel

(Click here for Kevin’s full “Time To Kill Marmalade” recipe.

After doing all of that, it’s time to put everything in a pot with water, sugar and any other flavors you fancy: ginger, flavored vodka or liqueur, a swirl of fresh herbs.  This is where you can add your own personal flair to the mix.

Did I say sugar?  I mean, lots of sugar.  As in, my sweet husband had to run out and buy a 5 pound bag of it.  Since I was making double, I used (gasp) 13 cups!  I think in the future I won’t double the recipe.  I ended up with way too much syrup in relation to the fruit, and frankly it turned out just a little too sweet. (Although, Joshua didn’t seem to mind!)

Next, I added pectin.  I finally understood why the recipe was called “Quick.” The pectin makes the gel set faster, reducing the cooking time – but I found this to be unnecessary.  When I made my second batch, I simply boiled the whole thing down for about 40 minutes, which was easy enough.

All in all, the Lime-Ginger Marmalade was a huge hit. The two cups of grated ginger really packed a punch.  The jam had an adventurous mixture of spicy, sour and sweet. I loved delivering little jars to all of my friends I visited the next week. And my husband – who winced at the marmalade’s sweet-tartness on first taste – ended up eating it on his toast every morning.

But, of course, that was only Lime Recipe No. 1. – I still had a whole bowl of limes to go!  My husband pitched in with a Key Lime Pie, and I discovered two more simple but wonderful recipes that will leave you lovin’ lime season this year.

I found this concoction on All Recipes.

Lime Basil Sorbet

And this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks The Golden Door Cooks Light And Easy.

Lime-Miso Dipping Sauce




  1. melanie watts

    It all sounds delicious. How about a jug of lime margaritis to use up any leftovers.

  2. Eleanor

    wine, gossip, and old-timey women-folk work? I wanna come!

  3. elisabeth

    A friend recently let me raid his naval orange tree and lemon tree. I immediatly remembered this post after unloading all the citrus and I think I’m going to try out making marmalade. Do you have any other tips? I’ve read this and a few other recipes about a dozen times. We’ll see how it goes! :)

  4. Evangeline

    Hi Elisabeth,
    Follow Kevin West’s instructions – they’re the easiest. Give yourself lots of time. Don’t try and double up the recipe – you’ll end up with too much syrup and it won’t gel correctly. Don’t bother with trying to remove the clear membrane (as was suggested in Ball canning). Just remove the white pith and chop up the pulp. You’ll end up with a bowl full of pulp and juice. I boiled it down for about 45 minutes. Add flavors at the end – I’ve tried Root alcohol (ttp:// and Grand Marnier – both with good results. Good luck and have fun!

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