Lemon Marmalade

lemon-marmalade1A couple of years ago I had an abundance of lemons and decided to make lemon marmalade. It was a disaster. I used a recipe from one of the pectin packages and everyone thought I had invented a new somewhat clear very durable tire component.

Last year I decided to use the abundance of beautiful lemons off my friends tree for candied lemon peel.
That WAS NOT a failure.
It was however a really big chore since the rind needs to be carefully separated from the pith so I was told.

Since then I have learned a lot.

1.) A super easy way to separate the rind from the pith of any citrus.

2.) How to make NO FAIL JAM, JELLY & MARMALADE without the use of pectin. Clearly OLD SCHOOL is much of the time BETTER!

3.) What to do with citrus zest so it is not simply tossed in the compost heap after squeezing lemons.

Each of those other matters will be addressed in different posts when I get the time. Oh my so much information to share but no time to do it … Is time going faster or am I getting older and slower? :)

So back to the Lemon Marmalade.

A month ago or so I bought a jam making book.
I found it when I decided to toss the pectin routine that had failed me in the past. I have to admit one failure is too much in my opinion. Frankly I don’t have the time to waste on failed anything.

Then this young woman that sells her specialty jams had a video class on Craftsy. Since I figure there is always a better mouse trap I decided to give her video class a try. What a great class! I learned more in several hours of very clear instructions more than I learned on my own over the years. Believe me trial and error (I prefer to call it research and development) IS NOT ALWAYS FUN when it fails miserably.

So between this very valuable video class, her book, my copper preserving pan and much enthusiasm I have developed some of the best jams that I have encountered in years.

What fun!

This Lemon Marmalade is her recipe (well the Limoncello is my addition). It takes 3 days but boy is her longer method well worth it.

Here is how I changed her original recipe:


  • 1½ pounds lemons (preferably Lisbon), cut into eighths
  • 3 pounds seeded lemons, halved crosswise, each half cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced crosswise medium-thin
  • 4¼ pounds white cane sugar
  • 1 to 2 extra lemons, to make 2 ounces strained freshly squeezed juice
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 4 oz. Limoncello

lemon-marmalade3DAY 1
Place the lemon eighths in a nonreactive saucepan where they will fit snugly in a single layer. Add enough cold water for the fruit to bob freely. Cover tightly and let rest overnight at room temperature.

Prepare the cooked lemon juice: Bring the pan with the lemon eighths to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium.

lemon-marmalade4Cook the fruit at a lively simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 hours, or until the lemons are very soft and the liquid has become slightly syrupy. As the lemons cook, press down on them gently with a spoon every 30 minutes or so, adding a little more water if necessary. The water level should stay consistently high enough for the fruit to remain submerged as it cooks. When the lemons are finished cooking, strain their juice by pouring the hot fruit and liquid into a medium strainer or colander suspended over a heatproof storage container or nonreactive saucepan. Cover the entire setup well with plastic wrap and let drip overnight at room temperature.

Meanwhile, prepare the sliced lemons: Place the slices in a wide stainless-steel kettle and cover amply with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, discarding the liquid. Return the lemon slices to the kettle and cover with 1 inch cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, decrease the heat to medium, and cook at a lively simmer, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the fruit is very tender. As the fruit cooks, stir it gently every 15 minutes or so, adding a little more water if necessary. The water level should stay consistently high enough for the fruit to remain submerged as it cooks. Remove the pan from the heat, cover tightly, and let rest overnight at room temperature.

lemon-marmalade2DAY 3
Place a saucer with five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing. Remove the plastic wrap from the lemon eighths and their juice and discard the lemons. Strain the juice well through a very fine-mesh strainer to remove any lingering solids. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cooked lemon juice, fresh lemon juice, and lemon slices and their liquid, stirring well. Transfer the mixture to an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide non-reactive kettle. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Cook at a rapid boil until the setting point is reached; this will take a minimum of 25 minutes, but may take longer depending on your individual stove and pan. Initially, the mixture will bubble gently for several minutes; then, as more moisture cooks out of it and its sugar concentration increases, it will begin foaming.

Do not stir it at all during the initial bubbling; then, once it starts to foam, stir it gently every few minutes with a heatproof rubber spatula. As it gets close to being done, stir it slowly every minute or two to prevent burning, decreasing the heat a tiny bit if necessary. The marmalade is ready for testing when its color darkens slightly and its bubbles become very small.

To test the marmalade for doneness, remove it from the heat and carefully transfer a small representative half-spoonful to one of your frozen spoons. It should look shiny, with tiny bubbles throughout. Replace the spoon in the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment. Tilt the spoon vertically to see whether the marmalade runs; if it does not run, and if its top layer has thickened to a jelly consistency, it is done. If it runs, cook it for another few minutes, stirring, and test again as needed. When the marmalade has finished cooking, turn off the heat but do not stir. Using a stainless-steel spoon, skim off any surface foam and discard. Add the Limoncello and mix well. Let stand for 5 minutes to thicken.

Pour the marmalade into sterilized jars and process according to the jar manufacturer’s instructions.

Shelf Life: about 2 years Yield about 10 – 8 oz. jars

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