Hi, I received a box of Meyer lemons from a friend (we’re in Southern California) and wanted to use them in something I’ve never made before. I found this recipe very easy and found the pictures wonderfully helpful. Everything looked the same up until the finished product. Mine came out a dark brown. I tasted it during the wrinkle test (a little tart, tastes good to me). Will try it out tomorrow after it sets overnight, but wonder why the color came out so dark.
Hi Tracy, that’s weird! It may have over cooked in the last step. I take it off the heat at the first sign of a wrinkle because sometimes the candy thermometers aren’t perfectly accurate.
I cooked the marmalade as per instructions and the peeling hardened but the jam part taste fine. What happened?
Hi Lily, you needed to cook the peel longer in the first step, before adding the sugar. The peel should have been completely soft before adding sugar.
Hi I love that your recipe is very simple. I’m going to make a batch soon. You did not mention if you process your jam when it is done. Or do you keep it in the refrigerator?I live in Arizona and we have plenty of citrus, so I always enjoy making different jams. Thank you, Jacqueline
I have a lovely giving Meyer lemon tree here in Australia. It fruits almost all year around, so I have ample besides giving them away. I love this recipe. I appreciate the step for step with pics. I did everything as per instruction and the lemon jam turned out perfect! The only thing that I did not do was can with proper jars. I used recycled ones but sterilized them as recommended. It has been a few months, still preserved. Anyway five stars for this recipe, thank-you so much, thumbs up!
Hi Lauren, I’m so glad you liked the recipe!
Can you make this and just add powdered pectin? I seems like that would be easier.
There is enough pectin in the lemons that you shouldn’t need to add any. BTW, the commercial pectin that you buy? It’s derived from citrus.
I made one jar of this with 2 lemons, 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar – I used raw sugar so it is not as pretty as yours, but it is delicious!
Meyer Lemons are darker in colour and fairly waxy looking compared to regular lemons !!!
I love, love, love how much you explain in this recipe! I plan on making it this weekend and it will be my first ever jam attempt. I only have one stainless steel pot (I only use cast iron) and I think it will be too small for this. Can I use my ceramic lined cast iron do you think?
Hi Megan, good question! I haven’t tried making jam with a cast iron pot (I assume you mean something like a Le Creuset Dutch oven). Cast iron holds the heat better than stainless steel, which may or may not be an issue. But if you try it, please let us know how it works out for you!
Well, I think it was a success!! I used the enameled cast iron (like le creuset). Since it was my first experience, not sure if it was different. It did however come to a rolling boil and reached 200 degrees very quickly. I am also at 5500 ft, so it may have been a combo of the two. I was afraid of going past jelly point to hard rack candy point, so I checked it like 6 times with the wrinkle method (and kept scrolling thru your instructions). The leftovers in the pot definitely set up. I made fresh bread several hours ago, so of course I had to scrape up the remenants in the pot! I definitely recommend making the bread first to have it handy! ;) can’t wait to try some of your other recipes!
I’m so glad it worked for you Megan. Once you start making marmalade you never look at a lemon tree the same way again.
I’ve made this recipe for several years running and it is always excellent. I have so many lemons this year that I’d like to experiment with additional flavors. I’m thinking a batch with rosemary and a batch with ginger but I have no idea how much to use and when to use it (add to the seed bag to infuse). Any suggestions?
Hi Susan, I would add a sprig or two of rosemary in the step with the first boil, remove after the first boil. As for ginger, you could probably grate some and just add it in the beginning along with the lemon. The ginger will just dissolve into the mix.
We just bought our new home which has a variety of fruit trees, one of which is a lemon tree. I was under the impression it was a Meyer lemon tree, as the fruit is naturally sweet. I was excited to make your recipe for Christmas gifts. I just finished making the batch and canning it. As it cooled, I tasted it and to me it’s really bitter. I don’t eat many marmalade’s so had my vegan son taste and he loved it. Then my hubby came home and tasted it and he said it was bitter. I’m thinking maybe my lemons aren’t the Meyer variety, but don’t know how to tell. OR is marmalade supposed to be rather bitter? Any thoughts?
Hi Melissa, this early in the season Meyer lemons may not have developed the sweetness or flavor they have later in the season. I don’t usually start making marmalade until mid January here in Northern California. Since fruit varies in its sweetness level, it’s a good idea to taste the base as you are adding sugar. Too little sugar and the batch will be on the sour side. Too much and it will be cloyingly sweet. As for bitter versus sour (think parsley versus vinegar)? Bitter comes from the peels. Meyer lemon peels are mild. Regular lemon peels are quite bitter. So if your batch was bitter it may be because you are working with lemons that aren’t Meyer lemons.
I added a Cinnamon Stick, Grated Ginger, Vanilla Bean and Star Anise during the final cooking stage… Unbelievably delicious!
I love those additions!
Just finished setting up this recipe. So far, so good. To keep jars clean(er) get a canning funnel, about $4 bucks. Fits right into the jar opening perfectly. No dripping down the side.
My Meyer lemon tree is full of lemons but they won’t be ripe for another month. I would like to make this recipe now so I can give as Christmas gifts. Do you think particially ripe lemons would be ok?
Hi Pat, no, I think you really want to use ripe (all yellow) lemons for this.
hello, thanks for your procedure. I used local lemon here in Cameroon and everything turned out the same way you described it. actually my Friends in the house started complementing it to be having the aroma smell of jam. however, it has hardened after just a day!. what could have gone wrong.
Hi Francisco, hardened like candy? Or just a really firm jam? If it hardened like candy it was because the temperature of the jam got too high before you poured it into cans.
I can’t wait to try this recipe!! I saw where you said that you could add spices/herbs but remove them prior to adding the sugar. What if I wanted to leave some fresh herbs in the final mix. Can I stir some in right before pouring into jars or would that taint the batch?
Hi Debi, I guess it depends on what it is you are using. The spices I tend do use you wouldn’t want to have in the finished product because they wouldn’t be edible. If you added ground spices to the mix you could leave them in, but they could muddy the color of the preserves.
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I made it last night, tried a spoonful, and it turned out delicious. I’m going to the store to buy some bread right now, so I can try it on toast. The step-by-step pictures were very helpful!
I am so happy with this recipe! The marmalade is lemony yellow just like the photos and not as dark or bitter as other recipes.
I’m so glad you like it Pat!
Do you need to refrigerate this after you can?
No, because of the amount of acid and sugar it is shelf stable.
How long is the shelf life?
Hi Nancy, it should last several years, though typically jams and jellies are best consumed within one year of canning.
The marmalade recipe is so easy to follow and my marmalade turned out perfect! First time I have ever made marmalade and I just LOVE Meyer lemons! Thanks for the pictures and the great directions! This is going to be my Christmas gifts for next year and my go to gift when visiting someone! Thank you!
This may have already been asked, but I don’t have time to browse all the comments right now! (Maybe tomorrow :) ) I made this, and while the flavor is delicious, the lemon peels got super tough in the second cook. I tried one before I added the sugar and it was very soft. I’ve made 3 batches of marmalade–the first two were strawberry lemon from a different recipe. My very first batch is a softer set and the peels are very soft. My second batch has a firmer set and chewy (but tolerable) peels. This batch, with your recipe, is seriously so tough I have to spit most of the peels out! What did I do wrong? :) Did I cook too long with the sugar?
Hi Diana, either the peels weren’t soft enough before the sugar went in or perhaps they were cooked too long, or perhaps they had dried out a bit before starting the cooking process. I once made a mixed marmalade that included some lime peels from limes that were a bit tough and the peels never softened sufficiently. I ended up having to pick them out of the marmalade because they were so inedible.
Thanks! They probably had dried out before I made the marmalade–they’d been in the fridge for several weeks while I tried to think of what to do with them :) I think I also probably cooked too long, because the color is darker than your photos. We actually spun the still-soft marmalade in our electric citrus reamer and that let the jam through while taking the peels out. The flavor is delicious, and I plan to heat the second jar and press it through a strainer before eating that one too. Thanks for your help, and I will definitely be trying this again with fresher lemons and less cooking!
Hi. Does this recipe require a water bath for canning? I use water bath method for kumquat marmalade. Thank you – love your recipes! I get lots of compliments for your persimmon cookies recipe.
Hi Barri, I don’t usually bother to water bath marmalade. Because of the acidity of the citrus and the high sugar content, there’s no issue with bacteria. And I sterilize the jars in an oven before pouring the marmalade into them. The only thing that can go wrong is mold. But in all the years I’ve been making this marmalade I have yet to have one go bad from mold. That said, a water bath may help the jars seal better. But again, even if the jars don’t seal perfectly, bacteria is not an issue, the only potential problem is mold.
hican I use regular lemon instead
Not with this recipe. Regular lemons are much tarter than Meyer lemons. And their peels are more bitter.
I just finished making this recipe and all went well, unlike yesterday. I have learned the second time trying to cut the pieces very small so more surface area is exposed to let the pectin come out during boiling. Found my food proceesor with its adjustable slicer ser to the thickest setting worked wonderfully. I did not add any additional water and boiled the lemons during the fist step for35 minutes. After adding the sugar I did not stir it much and cooked until it just started to change to a darker color (carmelization). My thermometer was difficult to read so i used the cold plate for testing. It was done when I saw it just start to crinkle when I pushed it with my finger. As soon as I put it in the jar it was setting quite quickly. I added left over vanilla bean and it tastes great! Very good recipe with no pectin added!
I made this with 2 large size meyer lemon, 1 cup , little over 1 cup of water, 2/3 sugar. That amount of sugar was even too much for me but I wanted to try. After 30 min full boil, I did plate test and it was good. Pour in a jar, I didn’t seal it because planning to use right away, good amount of sweetness, became purfect jelly texture, intense flover. I love it. Thanks for the recipe.
Glad you tried it with the smaller amounts and it worked well for you. Thanks for sharing Nilay!
I the UK we could always get what is known as ‘preserving sugar’, why can’t we get it in California?
Hi Marion, you mean the sugar that has pectin already added? No, I’ve never seen it here. Good news is that you don’t need added pectin for this recipe. There’s enough in the seeds and lemon peels.
Made this yesterday for the first time, with a friend who has never made jam before. We rarely get Meyer lemons up here and I had to take advantage of their availability. We followed the recipe to the letter. I had never used the “pectin bag” method before, it worked perfectly. Great outcome, delicious and perfect consistency. I used the wrinkle method on the frozen dish as I do not like candy thermometers and our high altitude always throws off boiling level temps. This is my go to recipe now; going to do a mixed citrus version next. My novice jam making friend is now a believer!
I was just thinking, if I could avoid the pectin bag it’d be one less thing to worry about while I’m getting the hang of all this, because it was right in that area that I had some sticking, but if it’s necessary, I understand. I will have to be more vigilant next time. I got a good amount of pectin from it, for what it’s worth. I just tried some of my dark lemon marmalade, and, while a bit tough to spread, it was good! I plan on revisiting the Meyer lemon recipe soon. Gonna try some berry jam this weekend. Thanks!
Oh, wanted to add to my comment – I have a ceramic top stove (never would’ve bought it if I’d known it is no good for so many things!), and I know the elements don’t stay red all the time, they shut off for periods. Takes a long time to boil anything large. Is it possible I will never get jam hot enough? I just don’t know if it’s the stove or thermometers, but as I said, my marmalade never wrinkled. I do know I overcooked though, probably in both stages, if that’s possible (to overlook in first stage). Shame cuz the lemons were $5/lb. anyway, not discouraged, gonna try some berry jam this weekend, and I might try the Meyer Lemon again.
Any suggestions anyone has on my comment(s) are greatly appreciated.
Oh, Elise, is it possible to not need to add the pectin back in (skip cooking the seeds/pith). Reason I ask is, I was very careful to stir to keep from sticking to pan, but around my pectin bag, some stuck to the pan, so I had to fish out black flecks of peel. Didn’t get em all. Not sure why, but either the bag obstructed my stirring (I thought I got underneath bag) or bag was keeping some pieces from moving.
Hi Gregg, if you got your marmalade hot enough so that it turned brown, your stove is hot enough I think. The pectin from the pectin bag will help the marmalade gel.
Gregg, I have had a smooth ceramic top stove for many years as well and have made tons of jams, jellies, preserves, canning, etc without any problem. Just keep pot stirred which helps distribute the heat; don’t let fruit just sit on bottom. Be aware the ceramic surface stays hotter longer after turned off than say a gas or electric burner so stuff will continue to cook/burn if pot is left on the hot spot after it is “done.” Remove from hot spot once done.
Mine turned brown and never wrinkled either. It gelled on the plate, didn’t spread out, but never wrinkled. I don’t know if it was already overcooked by then, but the thermometers I have are apparently no good for this. Any suggestions? Anyway, I have 5 jars of very dark “marmalade”. Might just try to see if I can use it in PB&j, which I was going to do anyway, but I can’t see eating it on toast as it is THICK. I’m disappointed, but this was my first canning GO-round.
Hi Gregg, if it gelled on the frozen plate, then that’s probably all you need.
how do you keep it from turning brown?
Hi Katie, do you mean when you are cooking it? Or after it has been on the shelf for a year? If it turns brown while you are cooking it, you’ve cooked it way too long. The browning is caramelization, which you definitely do not want. If this is happening to you, I would test the accuracy of your thermometer, and I would rely more on the cold plate wrinkle test to see when the marmalade has set, than the thermometer. If your marmalade is turning brown after a year of storage, that’s normal, and also why they say that homemade jams are best eaten within a year. The brown color shouldn’t affect the taste so much, but the jam won’t look as vibrant.
Just wanted to say thank you for the excellent recipe. Being a huge Meyer lemon and marmalade fan, I have tried many methods over the years and finally settled on yours as the simplest and best. It is failproof if done as directed. But I got a little distracted on today’s batch, and discovered that browning is not such a bad thing. Perhaps not quite as pretty but just as tasty. Some may even prefer the flavor. Caramelized Meyer Lemon Jam is going on the label. :-)
And I just wanted to add how jealous I am of all of you with citrus trees! Lucky you!
I am making this today and read through most of the comments. I live in SLC UT and I use a very accurate thermapen for temp. I have made many batches of jams and use a method very similar in that I do not use pectin. I just wanted to say you really have to keep track of your altitude, if I cook to 218 all my jam would be more like fruit leather! So every batch is and can be slightly different. Plus it is drier here and that also can affect the moisture content of all your ingredients especially if you measure but do not weight ingredients.
Thanks to you Elise for sharing your time and talent!
Hi, I made a meyer lemon marmalade last month with a very similar recipe and it came so bitter. What do you think happened and is your recipe not so bitter?Donna
Hi Donna, in this recipe we remove a lot of the connective membranes which can contain a lot of bitterness. You may want to check that, as well as you may need to add more sugar to yours, depending on the batch. Lemons vary in their sourness, depending on the variety, where they are grown, and the time of the harvest. Lemons harvested earlier in the season will be more sour than those harvested later in the season.
Hi Elise,Looking at your recipe again I can see with my recipe I used more lemons and less sugar.I’m going to try your recipe :)Also when you add all the white membrane to the cheese clothdoes that make it bitter also?Thanks for your time.
Hi Donna, the membranes in the cheesecloth don’t make the jam bitter, at least in my experience. I do recommend tasting the jam as you are making it though. After you’ve added the sugar, but before it’s returned to a boil. Depending on the sourness of the lemons, you may need more sugar. If you’ve added too much sugar, you can always add more straight lemon juice to to pot, use regular lemons which are more sour than Meyers.
Lived in LA for many years and also was blessed to have 2 Meyer lemon trees. Used them for many recipes from mains to desserts. Marmalade was among them. Awesome fruit! Funny to see this after having made it myself for so many years! Nice!
Dear Elise,I have been making and teaching the great art of preserving for over 50 years. I like to browse the cooking sites periodically to see what other folk are cooking and hence I came across your site. I enjoyed the comments from your followers. Your recipe looks very good and I thought I would give some suggestions for adding other flavours which I use on a regular basis. I use cinnamon sticks – cloves – cardamon pods – fresh ginger or candied ginger – allspice berries – Juniper berries – Lemon thyme – grated carrots are a popular additive here in Australia and look very pretty – melon – Zucchini just some of the many ways to add interest and especially lovely for including in gift baskets. I also like to make lemon marmalade as a clear jelly without any peel but I still flavour it with herbs or spices. I use this with many cold meats or cheeses as a relish and it is especially good with rich fatty meats such as pork, duck or goose and it is lovely to serve with fish depending on which herb is added to the jelly. Thank you for your site. Judith
Hi Judith,Thank you so much for your thoughtful suggestions! I love the versatility of lemon, it works with so many other flavors.
Elise, just wanted to give you a quick update to my earlier post about the marmalade. I did not make the meyer marmalade yet as I am still processing the above mentioned kajillion pounds of kumquats-i did, however make a fab kumquat marmalade with instructions very similar to the meyer lemon recipe you offer. These are two of my most favorite citrus so I thought, why not put them together? I made one batch of kumquat marm-3lbs kumquats (flesh and seeds in a cheesecloth bag), 6 cups water and about 2 1/2 to 3 cups sugar. It was good but very, very sweet….in the second batch I added the juice and zest of 4 small meyer lemons. This batch netted the perfect combination of tart and sweet with floral tones that are beyond compare. It tastes very pink to me…it is like Kumquat married Meyer Lemon and they made beautiful babies. Fabulous!!!! I can’t wait to smear this on a stinky cheese bruschetta! Next up-kumquat mimosa marmalade. Thanks for all the inspiration!
Elise, I’m working this week on two marmalades, kumquat (permission to pick a a few neighborhood trees) and meyer lemon (nine trees of my own, lucky me!). When I do jams I do a low sugar with sur-jel in the pink box. Since I won’t be using store bought pectin can I still reduce the sugar in this version or would you advise against it? BTW, the Carmichael kumquats are gorgeous this year….hoping you’ll find more ways for us to use them-I’m sitting on about 15lbs and picking more tomorrow! Want some?
Hi Mary, this marmalade recipe is already pretty low sugar as far as marmalades go. Most have much more. You do need sweetness to balance the tartness from the lemons. An early batch I made had even less sugar and a friend said it was so strong it could strip the enamel right off your teeth. I would say stick with the sugar amounts in this recipe for one batch and see if you like it. And thank you for the offer for kumquats! I’ve got my hands full with things to process at the moment, or I’d take you up on that one. ~Elise
i just finished my first batch…..it turned out beautiful…….i plan to do one more batch……….great recipe and i highly recomend it……easy….easy…..it’s a keeper…….
I’ve been making jams and jellies for years but this was my first time making marmalade…it came out perfect! Thank you for the detailed instructions and the photos. I just ordered sevilles online and as soon as they arrive I will try your seville orange marmalade recipe next!
Is there any way to rescue overcooked marmalade? Mine slightly carmelized and is too thick, though the taste is still yummy. After reading other comments, I think it happened because the thermometer wasn’t accurate.Can I add water, reheat, and try canning again? Other methods, please?
No, use it as a glaze for pork or chicken, or as a filling for thumbprint cookies. ~Elise
Thank you Elise. I tested my candy thermometer and it’s working fine. The jars look more gelled today and I opened one to test and taste it and it’s delicious!!! I’m planning to make a second batch today…great stocking stuffers! I did read some canning advice that suggested that ripe fruit has less pectin than under ripe ones. Has that been your experience?
That has been my experience for green apples. But for lemons and oranges? There’s so much pectin just in the peels, I’ve never had an issue with them not setting, even when using late in the season fruit. ~Elise
This was my first time canning. I had a large quantity of organic meyer lemons from my garden and was so excited to see your recipe and detailed instructions. Everything went well although my second stage of cooking time went very quickly….got to 220 in less than 5 minutes. I let it cook at that temp. for a few more minutes at which point it seemed to pass the wrinkle test too, but it’s now a day later and the marmalade in my jars looks pretty runny. Should I take them out and cook them down for awhile longer or will they still continue to set?
Normally I would say let them sit for 2 weeks, they should continue to set up. But the “5 minutes” has me wondering if perhaps your thermometer isn’t calibrated properly. Have you put tested the thermometer in boiling water to see if it displays 212°F? The wrinkle test is a good one though, and if it passed the wrinkle test, it should set up. ~Elise
Thank you Elise!I will be sharing my jars for Thanksgiving so I will have to make more.Happy Thanksgiving,Karen in Austin
3rd report and questions:I opened one jar and lid appeared sealed because it took a little effort to pop it off.We had some on a toasted English Muffin with butter and organic goat cheese. Marmalade is strong and I ate some of the peel straight and it appeared a little chewy, but on the bread it was fine. You only need a little since it is so strong.Questions:1. What is the shelf life in sealed jars?2. I am trying to think of uses and I was wondering what everyone else has used it for?Thanks,Karen in Austin
The marmalade will last for years, sealed, but the flavor and quality is best if eaten within one year. As for uses beyond jam on toast, some people make a sauce for chicken with marmalade (add chicken stock and poultry seasonings), and some add it to vinaigrette for salad dressing. ~Elise
Next day now. Jars have been setting for about 15 hours. I was a little worried last night because I did not hear any popping (eight jars) and I thought this morning they may have popped over night. I, also, wondered if I filled the jars high enough.I just opened one jar and the lid seems to be on tight. I did not try to open the lid.I will post again when I actually open a jar.Karen in Austin
Okay, I have 35 Improved Meyer Lemons and I am going to try making this. I have never made jam before so I am a bit nervous.Wish me luck!Karen in Austin
I made a version with cranberries – I started with 2 cups lemon and 2 cups water, prepared the recipe to the point of adding the sugar, then added 2.5 cups sugar, about 1/2 cup more water, and 1.5 cups cranberries. I skipped the pectin bag because cranberries have plenty of pectin and I didn’t want it to set up like concrete. Cooked until it set nicely, and it’s delicious and a gorgeous color.
thank you for your quick respond i am going to give it another triedi had a friend tested and he loved it bough two jarsthank you angie
I loved the marmalade first time I ever made it. The only problem I had that when I spoon it out it is a bit grainy. Can you tell me if it’s ok? I am going to sell it at a bazaar. I love your recipes. I make a pepper plum jam and this year I decided on the lemon. Please let me know. I still have time to make another batch. Thank you.
Hello Angie, if the batch you made is grainy, it sounds like you probably won’t want to sell it or you will risk disappointing your customers. Sounds to me like the sugar recrystalized a bit. Happens sometimes. You must make sure that all of the sugar crystals have dissolved into the jam, including any that might be lingering on the side of the pot. ~Elise
This is a fantastic recipe. So easy and I really loved the pectin bag, so old world. I never use pectin in my berry and apricot jam making so I loved that you made your own right from the lemons. I feel a little wary of the canning method as I have always used a water bath before and wonder how long they hold up this way? Good for a year? A great recipe for Santa Cruz where Meyer lemons are everywhere. Your directions are great. Thanks for posting.
There is enough sugar and acid in the lemon marmalade that it will kill any bacteria that try to get established. The only thing you have to worry about is mold. If your jars are sterilized, and your marmalade mixture is hot enough, you will get a good seal and you shouldn’t have any trouble with mold. That said, a water bath will help getting a good seal. The marmalade will be fine for years, though I think best if eaten in the first year after making. After a year the flavor tends to get really intense, and the marmalade starts to darken in color. ~Elise
i want to thank you for putting this online. your directions are right on target and user friendly, I am just finishing up my first batch. WONDERFUL! :) Thanks again.
Thanks for your response, Elise. I’ll stick with the low tech but tried and true wrinkle test.
Everyone, I’ve been making a lot of marmalade this season and I’m finding that my marmalade is setting up great, even at temperatures as low as 217-218°F. So I’ve lowered the target temps for the marmalade on the recipe. You really do not want the marmalade to caramelize. If it is turning brown and caramelizing, something is going wrong. Perhaps your thermometer is faulty, or perhaps the probe part of the thermometer (sometimes an inch or two above the tip) is not being submerged enough in the jelly. I do find that the wrinkle test works. If I put a bit of the hot mixture on a chilled (as in freezer chilled) plate, wait a few seconds, and then push the mixture with my finger tip, and if it wrinkles even in the slightest, it’s time to turn off the heat under the marmalade mixture.
Had a glut of home-grown tangelos (orange x tangerine?) from the Anza-Borrego desert here in SoCal, and used this recipe with marvelous results, although not without surprises along the way. Had 7 cups of fruit, so kept your ratio of 1:1:1, but like Curtis, never could get that temp up to 220 (max 212- I live at 1600 ft. elev.). Used Revereware stainless w/copper bottom soup pot; wish I could enclose the photo I took…ended up practically burning the batch, but resulted in a caramely note with a texture like honey (very sticky!). Used 4 oz jars for maximum distribution among family & clients. Many thanks for all the photos! I could not have done this without your attention to detail.-a regular reader
Oh my, I would really go with the wrinkle test then and skip trying to get it to 220. ~Elise
This is good to know, I have a key lime tree and have made marmalade very successfully using a similar recipe but the last time it did not seem to be ready to set so I let it cook much longer — it stated to turn brown and caramely as Diane T. mentions here — and now I have several jars of key lime semi-hard candy. Not sure what to do with them or if they can be somehow rescued or softened in some way…
Thank you for this wonderful recipe. My aunt just sent a large box of lemons from her tree, and they are so delicious that our two 10 month old twin boys enjoy eating slices.
Unfortunately, I overcooked the marmalade, and I was wondering if you could tell me where I went wrong. Here are some specifics about how I made it.– When I squeezed out the pectin, I got 3 tbl. – When I cooked it, I used my large pot, so the liquid was not that deep– After adding the pectin and sugar, I brought it to a rolling boil and kept it at high heat– I stirred it– I put the candy thermometer in when I was cooking it, but it never really reached 220. I was careful not to let the tip of the thermometer touch the bottom.– Eventually, the marmalade started to turn brown (temp still around 210)
So, here were the things I was wondering:– Did I use too much pectin?– Can I use a smaller pot so that the liquid is deeper?– Should I have reduced the temp?– Is it bad to stir?
Sorry for taking up so much room and thanks for your help. I am really excited to capture the bright flavor of these lemons. – Curtis
Sounds to me as if your thermometer was funky. I have the hardest time getting a good read with a thermometer. With a shallow pan, if you use a thermometer, you probably need to tip the pan to one side so that more of the jelly surrounds the thermometer, when you want to take the temp. Thermometer reads can be so inconsistent, usually I just keep looking at it and testing it with a cold plate. The minute there is the slightest wrinkle, I turn off the heat. 3 Tbsp of pectin probably is a bit much. A Tbsp would do fine. There is plenty of pectin in the lemon peels, squeezing out more pectin is just to help ensure a good set. ~Elise
I made the marmalade…wooohoo. It taste really good but the peels are hard. I let them sit two days. What did I do wrong?
Sometimes that happens to me if 1) the peels aren’t cooked enough in the first cooking stage, and 2) the peels cook too long in the second stage. ~Elise
I was so excited to try this recipe. We have a Meyer Lemon bush in our back yard. i just finished a batch of the marmalade and I cant wait till tomorrow to try it. I have one question though (this is my first time :)…) Is it normal to see the peel at the end while jarring? I used the thermometer and did the plate test and they both checked out. Thanks!
Yes, you should see plenty of peel. ~Elise
Your recipe calls for a stainless steel pot any chance I can make this in a ceramic dutch oven? I can not wait to make this!
I haven’t attempted jelly or jam making in a Dutch oven. Generally you want a pot that you can quickly moderate the temperature, and a ceramic coated cast iron will not let you do that. That said, you also want a pot that has even heating all around, and a Dutch oven would work great for that. ~Elise
I’ve been making this marmalade for a couple years and find the instructions to be incredibly helpful. So far, thanks to a new source of Meyer lemons (not free, alas, but a good price), I’ve made two batches already this season.
Here are a few things I have learned in recent batches:
Rosemary infusion: In my last two batches I’ve taken a cue from the legendary Berkeley preserves maker June Taylor and infused the marmalade with rosemary. Sticking a sprig of fresh rosemary into the pot of cooking marmalade is one method for infusion, but can leave behind needles. So here’s what works for me: strip rosemary needles from a sprig or two, then chop them fine and put into a jelly or spice bag. A few minutes before the batch is ready, put the bag into the cooking marmalade and stir the marmalade towards and around the bag of rosemary so that it can infuse the marmalade. I like to infuse only part of the batch with rosemary, so I scoop a portion of the cooking marmalade into another pot before I add the rosemary bag and let it finish without additional flavoring.
Pectin extraction: The things sold as “spice bags” in kitchenware stores work pretty well as a pectin bag. Since they are small, I use two. In my last batch, I had decent success using a Mexican-style lemon press to push pectin out of the bag. The pectin would go out of the juice holes and also around the edge of the juicer. Working it by hand was still necessary, but it made it a bit easier.
Jar processing: Also, to be extra certain of a safe preserve, I process my jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
I have a big batch of Meyer lemons sitting on my counter right now and I’m looking forward to the marmalade. I have too many for one batch, so I think I’m going to try adding fresh grated ginger to the second batch. Doesn’t that sound like a heavenly combination? Thanks in advance for the recipe. I also have a big bag of tangerines and two boxes of clementines as well. It is good to live in Florida! I love the fruit like these that has a thin skin and not too much “pulp” unlike regular lemons, oranges and grapefruit that require peeling and sectioning to make a decent marmalade!!
I just used your recipe and have a nice blister on my right thumb to show for it! That’s a lot of work dicing lemons. Lots of little cuts on my fingers that I didn’t know about too, haha!
I broke three of your rules; two right off the bat. I didn’t have Meyer lemons, but the lemons that our tree produces are very sweet; more so than the standard lemons. Unfortunately, they were picked too early for their summit of sweet, so they were more like standard lemons in tart/bitterness. The second rule that I broke was “Do not double the recipe.” I tripled it because of the sheer volume of lemons that the kids brought in.
From there, I followed the directions until the taste test (where I promptly added another 6 cups of sugar). I got the batch up to 220 degrees F and did the chilled-plate-wrinkle-test a few times as well. I loaded seven 30oz jars and eight 8oz jars, wiped, sealed and let them sit overnight.
This morning, I see that all eight of the smaller jars have set perfectly, but the 30oz jars don’t seem to have set at all. I can’t explain this, but have been reading around about rescuing unset batches.
The consensus seems to be that it can take up to a week to set. The batch in the large jars is just way too liquid(y). I can’t fathom it ever setting properly on its own.
The consensus also seems to be that you can’t harm marmalade by reheating it. So, that’s what I will be doing today (the 30oz jar portion (220oz) anyway) and will add pectin to ensure that it sets, then re-jar.
I’ll post again to let everyone know how it went and how it tastes. Thank you for this recipe.
So I have a question for you, Ms. Elise:
I have made this marmalade twice now (SO delicious!!!!), and both times I have experienced something a little odd. I have canned jams before, but always with the hot water bath method. However, after sealing these little beauties off, I heard the requisite “popping” sound during the hours when they were cooling. That is normal. However, for days thereafter, I would hear a popping noise coming from the jars. It scared me to death at first (I almost hit the deck, not knowing what it was!), but then I realized that it was coming from the cans. This is a new thing for me, as all my other jams and jellies have been tightly sealed. I was just wondering if this is normal, or if it means that my jars are not sealed properly and therefore need to be refrigerated. Am I alone in this experience? Thank you so much for your endless inspiration, and for this recipe in particular, which has been a very sunny spot in my life and the lives of my friends lucky and well-loved enough to get a jar!
Regarding the noise you are hearing, have you checked the seal on the jars? Is it that some of them are becoming “undone”? Sometimes if I let the temperature of the jelly cool too much in the pan, it’s not hot enough to generate a good seal. For this it helps to do a hot water bath. Here’s the thing with this marmalade – it is highly acidic, and it has a lot of sugar in it. This means harmful-to-humans bacteria can’t live in it. The only threat of spoilage is mold. For generations, people canned marmalades with parafin wax as a sealer (no water boiling, no vacuum lids). So if it were me, and I didn’t have a good seal on a marmalade, I would change the lid (to a sterilized one) and just pop the jar into a water bath for 5 minutes. That said, the official health advisors will say to keep a jar whose lid hasn’t sealed in the fridge. ~Elise
I too have used a vanilla bean in this recipe (I have made it twice now, it is THAT good!). I find the best way to do this (although I am not a pro) is to scrape the seeds out of the split bean with a paring knife and then rub them with your fingertips into 1/4 cup of the sugar (I still used 6 cups of sugar, total). This helps ensure that they get evenly distributed and avoids “clumps” of seeds. I also threw the rest of the vanilla bean in the pot for good measure, at step #9 (when you add the sugar). You then fish this out before you pour the marmalade into your jars. I always rinse used vanilla beans, let them dry for a day or so, and pack them in sugar. This not only makes your sugar smell amazing, but it preserves the beans for future use in infusing other things. Hope this helps! The vanilla bean really makes this marmalade spectacular!
I made this marmalade today as I have a super prosperous myer lemon tree. Wow..I can’t beleive how good it is. I had never canned without using boxed Pectin, and was pleasantely surprised how well the “other way” worked. I read comments about people using a vanilla bean, and would like to know the best way to incorperate it the cooking. Thank you, Deborah Harris
I LOVE this recipe, it’s delicious. I’ve made it plain, with vanilla bean, and now with strawberries. It worked for me just adding 3 cups of frozen strawberries in at the second cooking stage (when you add the sugar). I had to cook it about 10 minutes longer, but it definitely set, and it’s amazing. Thanks for the fantastic directions, pictures, and comments. :)
Hi Katie, Oh I’m so glad adding strawberries worked for you! I bet the jam is gorgeous.
Looking forward to trying this out. Do you think pint sized jars would work just as well for canning? My boyfriend accidentally got pint jars instead of half pint and I would rather not have to return to the store to exchange them.
Sure! I use pint jars all the time. You’ll just need fewer. ~Elise
I just made the lemon marmalade today and it was delicious! I used five meyer lemons and four regular lemons (that were gifted to me from a friend with a lemon tree). For the regular lemons I cut almost all of the peel off just leaving a little white. It still turned out delicious. Perhaps a bit tarter than if meyer lemons had been used but still tasty. Thanks for such a great tutorial!
A fantastic recipe. Thanks for going to the extra trouble to post photos– they make the process very easy to follow. I hadn’t made preserves since I was a child and had forgotten all the crucial details. I live in Southern California and get hundreds of Meyer lemons off my tree every year. This is a great alternative to the endless lemonade I make during the summer.
Love it. I was worried about the quantity of sugar when it was premeasured, but it worked perfectly. I’m thinking this would be perfect with the addition of jalapeno, but haven’t ever been that adventurous with jams/jellies. Any thoughts you might have would be much appreciated as it sounds as though you are quite the expert! (And I have plenty of lemons to experiment with.) Thanks for sharing your recipe.
Oh, I think for my taste I would rather add a vanilla bean than jalapeno with this recipe. But if you try a spicy version, please let us know in the comments how it turns out for you. ~Elise
Hi Elise — I made a batch yesterday and it turned out great! Thanks so much!
I do have a question, though — is there a reason you say we shouldn’t double this recipe? I’m new to this process, so I don’t necessarily understand all the nuanced chemistry that goes on with the marmalade, but I have SO many lemons I’d like to make more at one time, if possible.
Hi Laura, this recipe is designed for a certain amount of surface area in the pan in relation to the volume of marmalade. You can double the recipe, if you use two pans, but I don’t recommend it unless you are cooking with someone else. When the marmalade is ready, it needs to be processed very quickly. If you double the recipe and stick to one pan, the mixture will take longer to boil down, and the longer the cooking time, the more chances that the mixture will overcook, and the flavors won’t be as fresh. ~Elise
Thanks so much for this tutorial! I’m planning on making my first batch tonight. I’ve noticed that other recipes call for letting the pectin and lemons soak 24 hours before boiling — but your recipe seems to be much quicker. About how long does it take altogether, do you think?
I usually plan for a couple of hours start to finish, when I do a batch. ~Elise
An astonishingly good recipe. My wife–who HATES marmalade–loves the results. I know it tastes good because I have a custard cup of the remainder in the fridge chilling…and it is set and tastes amazing. Just a hint of bitter combined with lemon tang/sweetness.
This was my first time making ANY jam/jelly and it went like a charm…waiting on the jars to pop right now.
Hi Elise and everyone else,
I love making jams and jellies- my boyfriend is bewildered to see me constantly begging jars from colleagues and then holed up in the kitchen late in the evening stirring, straining, sniffing…
I have never heard of Meyer Lemons- they sound amazing. I live in the UK- maybe they just aren’t available here. I may try to substitute 1/2- 2/3 oranges and the rest regular lemons- or grapefruit perhaps. Too nice not to try…
Could someone let me know what they mean when they added the vanilla bean. When where and how did they add it? I have a “million” meyer lemons on my tree right now and want to give this recipe a try – thinking gifts for Christmas. I planted this tree several years ago and it is producing wonderfully – I love the sweeter taste of meyers and I almost never see them in the stores.
This is a terrific recipe. Natural pectin…who knew?I made my first batch last night and have a second planned for tonight, this time with a little candied ginger added to the mix.
Thank you, Elise!
I only had 13 meyer lemons from my first crop last year (2008), and I wanted the best recipe. I picked this one, and it came out perfect! The only problem I had was not enough lemons. I just came in from counting the lemons I have for this years (2009) crop, and it looks like I will have 50 – 60 lemons to process. Thanks for posting this super recipe.
I can’t wait to try this recipe–have 6 weddings to go to this summer and am working on a basket of home-made goodies as presents–I think this will be a wonderful addition.
In the past when I have made ollaliberry jam, I have boiled the filled jars to preserve them–does letting them sit overnight achieve the same effect?thanks
Boiling the jars after filling them, or giving them a “water bath”, is often done as a last step in preserving. In this case, the acidity from the lemons along with the sugar in the jam, sterilizing the jars, and cooking the jam is enough. ~Elise
I have loved and had an obsession with the flavor of Meyer Lemons for quite awhile. A couple of years ago some friends gave me a jar of homemade Meyer lemon marmalade and I was in Love. I have access to my Uncle Gilbert’s Meyer Lemon treee, so I though why not give it a try. So I found your recipe. My first attempt at this recipe I could not find my thermometer, but I used the freezer test, but it still came out too gooey. I found my thermometer and tried my second attempt which was slightly thin, but had a wonderful flavor. My third attempt was a charm, and tomorrow I will try batch #4. And I too will pass it on as a Gift.I might even try the vanilla bean addition.
Wonderful! I’m not generally a marmalade fan…too tart for me. But with Meyer lemons, it is not tart at all. I’ve given some to friends who are beatting down my door for more. I have a miniature Meyer Lemon tree in a very large pot on the patio and have been looking all over for things to do with the fruit. Afer finding this recipe, I had enough lemons left for 2 batches. I can’t wait for next January! I also really like the method of heating the jars on the oven instead of boiling. Thanks for the new trick.
Hi, Thanks for the recipe. Mine turned out great and I yielded 10 half pint jars. I also added a large vanilla bean and I think it tastes great. I canned them and they all pinged. Does this mean that they are preserved for a year? Even without doing a water bath? I know the sugar and high acid content is very preserving. I’ll do the water bath if I need to but I wasn’t sure if that was even necessary. Please advise. THANKS!Tracy
You don’t need to do a water bath. The sugar and the acidity from the lemons is sufficient. ~Elise
I made this recipe by the book tonight and somehow ended up with 1qt, 1 pint, 4 1/2 pints and one 1/8 pint. I had to add all the other sizes because there was so much left over. Mine jellled beautifully and tastes fantastic, though, so I’m not sure what could have happened. Thanks for the fantastic recipe, as always! ^_^
I live in Houston and have a Meyer Lemon tree in my backyard. This year it was quite productive, so in a quest for recipes that would help me use my harvest, I stumbled across yours. It’s *so* tasty! and I’ve never even really liked marmalade. I gave it as gifts and they have been universally appreciated. Thank you for all the pictures – very helpful.
I just finished making a lovely batch. One question, though: how long should I let the test sit on the chilled plate before trying to “wrinkle” it? If it doesn’t wrinkle immediately, but will after 15 seconds or so, is it ready? Guess I’ll see how well it sets up in the jars.
Yes, if it wrinkles after 15 seconds, it’s ready. ~Elise
This recipe sounds wonderful. I thought when you canned things you had to boil the jars in a big pot and pull them out w/tongs…is this a different method w/the oven? Thanks.
Hi Holly. There are different ways to sterilize jars before using them for canning. Heating them in the oven is one way to do it, boiling in water, another. ~Elise
Oh I can hear the jars pop – this is so exciting! We have four lemon trees in the back yard. Two of one variety and two of another, though I am unsure what these varieties are. The fruit from all of them are huge and slightly sweet for lemons, but the skin is very thick, unlike the Meyer. So I only put the flesh and a little zest in the finished product.Preliminary taste tests have a huge thumbs up. I have licked my tester plates clean – this is really lovely marmalade! Thank you so much… this time of year comes around and we have so many lemons I don’t know what to do with them. Before I came across your recipe, I hadn’t even thought of marmalade…. Many many many thanks!
I’m lucky enough to have a very generous neighbor with a meyer lemon tree. I picked a batch this morning and made my first batch of marmalade. It is very bitter, but I really do like it. I found that cutting the very ripe lemons was a bit tough, the peels were very hard, so I used some that were’nt too over-ripe. Unfortunately, it forced me to add some boxed pectin after all. But I finally got it right. Wonderful recipe, and so very glad that you posted it. Many thanks. I made a large batch for Christmas gifts. I’m sure they will be just as pleased as I am. Next time I try it, I’ll make sure I get a better knife first!
Why not regular lemons in this recipe? Flavor, consistency, other qualities?
Regular lemons are very sour and their peels bitter. Meyer lemons are a cross of regular lemons and oranges, so are a bit less sour and their peels taste better. ~Elise
If I incorporate fresh strawberries into the recipe should I also increase the amount of pectin, water and sugar?
Hi Jen, there is no added pectin in this recipe as is. I have no idea if you would need some if you added strawberries to it. Don’t think so, but you’ll have to try it to find out. ~Elise
Thanks for the great recipe! I did this for the first time ever, and it worked just beautifully! I was real skeptical about not using any store-bought pectin, but now I have a batch of perfectly set, yummy marmalade waiting for our breakfast.
I am ready to try this recipe!- but can one substitute turbinado sugar for granulated white sugar?
I have never tried making jam with anything other than standard white granulated sugar. If jam making with turbinado works for you, then great, it should work with this recipe as well. ~Elise
This made some unbelievably good marmalade – real sour and sweet with the bitterness from the peels. Pay attention to the line about making sure the peel pieces are nice and soft…I cheated, figuring they would get a little softer during the second stage, and they went back to chewy…oh well, an excuse for a second batch :)
Hi Andrew, you have to really cook them until soft in the first stage because as soon as you add sugar, they’ll firm up a little. So if they are still a bit firm to begin with, then when you do the second stage of cooking they’ll end up chewy.
Hi Elise, just made this today. I did 4.4.4 and ended with 5 half pints. I don’t know what happened, I used Meyer Lemons but the product is bitter, reminds me of grapefruit pith. Would try again if I thought I could fix the flavor. Thanks for your help.
Hi Sue, perhaps it needs more sugar for the lemons you are using? Or maybe something else is up with your lemons. Did you try tasting the rinds before cooking? Grapefruit rinds are really bitter, meyer lemons not really. So if you Meyer lemon rinds are bitter, then perhaps you started with a batch of fruit that wasn’t the best for making marmalade. Marmalade making is never an exact science. Every year, every batch, slightly different.
Why not just add pectin from a box?
No point in adding pectin from a box given that there is so much natural pectin in the lemons. BTW, did you know that the pectin we buy from the store is actually derived from Argentinean limes? One of the magical things about jam making with fruit such as lemons, oranges, or even green apples is that you don’t actually need anything other than the fruit, sugar, and water. ~Elise
Should Meyer lemons be available in regular grocery stores or are they in specialty stores? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen them! I won’t be making these preserves but I’d like to try some of the other recipies!
Hi Laura, sometimes you can find them at farmer’s markets. They aren’t typically grown in large orchards but are common in people’s yards where the climate is favorable. If you live in a warm area, you might ask around to see if any friends or neighbors have a Meyer lemon tree that’s loaded with lemons. Usually these trees produce far more lemons than people need so neighbors with Meyer lemon trees are usually happy to give some away.
If you live in the Northeast, you might be fortunate to have a Wegman’s nearby. If so, they sell them.
I loved the batch you made with the vanilla bean! Delicious!!!
Vanilla bean is my all time favorite too! I was just shocked at the grocery store a few days ago because 2 sticks of vanilla were $6.99! But worth it. I wanted it for a cake recipe but now I can use it for this as well. Never have made homemade jam, but just took my two girls (3 and 5) to see The Paddington Bear movie. I think they’d be super excited to make this jam with me now after seeing it in the movie. Fun family activity.
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