26 October 2019

Ponderosa Lemon Marmalade

I’d never heard of, much less seen, a Ponderosa Lemon until just a few years ago when my friend Stephen called me up, wondering if I wanted some. A friend of his had one in her yard laden with fruit; but a truck backed up over it snapping it in two, so she was distributing the fruit.

Of course I said yes before I even looked them up and discovered that even though they taste almost exactly like a Eureka lemon, they’re not a true lemon at all but rather Citrus x pyriformis, an accident, a nothospecies, a natural hybrid of a citron (Citrus medica) and a pomelo (Citrus maxima) that appeared on Earth one day in late nineteenth-century Maryland.

They are popular as ornamentals for several reasons: they require relatively little pruning, both the flowers and the fruit are larger than those of the Eureka lemon, they bear year-round, and mature fruit can be left attractively on the tree for quite some time with little loss of flavor. The trees can reach as high as 24 ft., but they are very slow growing. One downside is that they are even less cold-hardy than Eurekas and cannot take a hard freeze.

Like most sour citrus, they make an excellent marmalade, so I was quite excited when Sybil’s daughter Karin offered to bring me some from the tree in her San Rafael yard. Because the peel is so thick, I trimmed the ends off before slicing them up for cooking so as to preserve a proper peel/juice ratio. I ended up with a dozen jars; and the deal I made with Karin was that I’d give her half of the production, so my share is only six jars. Ain’t nobody getting none of ’em unless they read about ’em here and put in a request. Gotta control the demand somehow.

For the curious, here’s the recipe. Umm, well the recipe is in the section titled “Jams, Jellies, Marmalades, and Pickles”. Meanwhile, here’s a shot of one of ’em during the prepping. To the immediate right of the whole lemon are the end slices that I composted.

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