Meyer Lemon & Grapefruit Marmalade

Around here canning season winds down in October with apple butter and sauerkraut. There’s not a whole lot to put in jars between now and strawberry season, so in January I like to indulge in a few pounds of citrus from sunnier places to tide me over. Making a batch of marmalade will take you all afternoon, which is not necessarily a bad thing when it’s 20 degrees and snowy and you don’t really want to go anywhere anyway.

Some marmalade recipes call for you to chop up the fruit membranes and all. I prefer to separate the pulp from the membranes. This ends up being a lot more work, but the result is a much prettier marmalade with a nicer texture. You’ll end up with a beautiful transparent jelly with thin strands of zest suspended throughout and when you spread it on a toasted English muffin you’ll realize that it was all worth it.

This time around I used a combination of meyer lemons and red grapefruit. I’ve also made it with just meyer lemons. I imagine you could follow the same basic formula with any combination of citrus.

Meyer Lemon and Grapefruit Marmalade (adapted from Food in Jars)

8 to 10 meyer lemons
3 red grapefruits
6 cups sugar

Have ready  8 clean half-pint canning jars. Put them in your water bath canner and bring it to a boil while you make the marmalade. The jars need to boil for at least 10 minutes to sterilize them, because the marmalade is only processed for 5 minutes.

Wash the fruit well, and with a serrated vegetable peeler, peel the zest from all of the lemons and one of grapefruits. Try not to take too much of the pith off with it. Then cut the zests into little matchstick strips, about an inch long. You should have about 2 cups of zest. Put the zest in a saucepan and add about 6 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the zest is soft and slightly translucent. Turn off the heat and just let it stand while you get the pulp ready.

Meanwhile, you will need to separate the fruit pulp and juice from the membranes. You can supreme the grapefruits, but sometimes I find it easier to just peel them apart. When it comes to the lemons, you’ll quickly realize that trying to supreme them is far more trouble than it’s worth. I usually just cut them in half and juice them.  In the end it really doesn’t matter since the pulp will break down completely. You’ll want to collect all of the pulp and juice in a bowl, and save the membranes and seeds in a separate bowl. The membranes and seeds will provide lots of pectin to help the marmalade set up. Discard the pith. In the end you should have about 4 cups of juice and pulp.

Strain the zest, reserving the cooking liquid. Measure 4 cups of the liquid and discard the rest. Combine the cooking liquid, zest, pulp, juice, and sugar in a large heavy pot. Bundle the reserved membranes and seeds into a square of cheesecloth. Tie the bundle securely and add it to the pot.

Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until the juice begins to thicken. This should happen soon after it reaches 220 degrees, if you like to keep track of such things. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for the marmalade to begin to thicken. Once it looks like its beginning to thicken, test it by dropping a little puddle of marmalade on to a cold plate. Once it cools, run your finger through the puddle. If it feels like jam and not liquid, it’s done. It will thicken considerably as it cools, so don’t wait for the hot marmalade in the pot to thicken to jam consistency. If you do, you’ll end up with completely solid marmalade. When it’s done, remove from heat and gently press the cheesecloth bundle against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. Lots of pectin will ooze out. Discard the cheesecloth bundle and give it a good stir. Ladle the marmalade into sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Process jars for 5 minutes in a water bath canner. This recipe makes about 7 or 8 half-pints.

12 thoughts on “Meyer Lemon & Grapefruit Marmalade

  1. Hey Kate, by any chance did you adapt this recipe from my Three-Citrus Marmalade post? If so, could I get you to drop in an “adapted from” link? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Marisa– Over the last few years I’ve looked at a lot of marmalade recipes from at least a half dozen books and as many websites. Last year I made a version of this one with just lemons, and decided I liked this technique best. By the time this year rolled around I didn’t remember where I saw the recipe originally. Now that I’m looking at your recipe, I guess that must be where I got it from! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  2. I run the oranges and lemons through the cuisinart shredder, heat it up with sugar and let it set overnight – takes off the bitter edge that some people find objectionable. One tray of “manager’s special” oranges turned out to be blood oranges which gave it a nice pinky shade, and I added halved maraschino cherries, too.

  3. Thank you for posting this recipe! I made it on Sunday, but I felt I was having to simmer it along too much.. plate test kept failing. I am a new to canning, but have made 2 marmalade’s already with success. This method was very different from the 2 previous in that it used only the membranes and the seeds. For me, it didn’t work. I didn’t have a lot of seeds in either the red grapefruit, or the Meyer lemons (but I did put all that I had in the cheesecloth bag along with the rind strips and juices) so Sunday night I basically canned delicious syrup. Yesterday (Monday) I juiced 2 more grapefruit, added membrane, seeds, and a few pieces of rind with pith to the cheesecloth bag, 2 cups sugar, emptied out my freshly canned syrup and boiled away. Got it to temp quick and kept stirring, and squeezing that bag. I canned it up again, and felt disappointed last night because I thought that I had canned syrup again which made no sense because I had quite the pectin bubble going on with this re worked batch. I even dreamed about it last night…why.why.why did this not work!!!!
    I just enjoyed my marmalade on toast, it is delicious! And the fragrance of it is magical!!!! Just love it!

    • Give it a little time. Sometimes it can take a few days or even a week or two for jams to fully set. I’ve always had good luck using citrus membranes for pectin (I even use this method for strawberry, etc.) so I’m at a loss for ideas as to why it wouldn’t work. I’m glad it tastes good though!

  4. Popovers! –

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