Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Meyer Lemon Marmalade | Hitchhiking to Heaven

If my friends know me for any one preserve, this is it. For a long time, this recipe for Meyer Lemon Marmalade was available only in an eBook I published in 2011. I stopped selling that book a while back. I decided to make the recipe available here with what I think is a handy new tip — an optional trick for using a smidgen of Pomona’s Pectin to ensure a bright finish and a great set without gumming up the texture. If life hadn’t foiled my plans to start a cottage jam business by slinging me a health crisis a couple years back, I probably wouldn’t be telling anyone about my little twist. It would be a trade secret. You’ll find it at the end of this post.

First, however, here’s the original recipe for the marmalade that won Best in Show at the county fair in 2010. Those seem like the old days now!

Meyer Lemons | Hitchhiking to Heaven

A good Meyer Lemon Marmalade is pure sunshine in a jar; the color is a lovely yellow, not overly caramelized. The jelly is lightly set without being watery or too cloudy. The slices of lemon peel are slender and evenly cut. And the taste is sweet and tart, not bitter.

Some folks say that Meyer Lemon is the most difficult type of marmalade to make. That’s because Meyer lemons are softer and less acidic than other citrus, which means it can be a challenge to get your marmalade to set well without overcooking the fruit — but it can be done! For best results, choose ripe but firm lemons without too much pith, and process them soon after you pick them.

Before you begin, note that this is a two-day process; your cut lemons will need to soak for a night in the fridge before you cook your marmalade. All of this is explained just below.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

yields about 9 half-pint jars

2 1/2 pounds Meyer lemons
7 cups water
6 1/2 cups pure cane white sugar

Day One

1. Wash the lemons and chill them in the fridge for at least an hour. Chilling is optional, but it’s much easier to thinly slice a cold lemon.

2. Slice each lemon along the stem and then cut a notch from the center to remove the pith, as pictured below.

Notched Meyer Lemon | Hitchhiking to Heaven

3. Hold each lemon over a bowl and run your thumb along the inside of the notch to remove the seeds. The bowl will catch the seeds and the juice, which you should set aside until Steps 5 and 6.

4. Thinly slice the lemons. I do this by turning each lemon wedge face down on the cutting board, as pictured here.

Slicing Lemons for Marmalade | Hitchhiking to Heaven

5. Put the lemon slices and the 7 cups of water into a large glass or ceramic bowl. Strain the set-aside juice and seeds from Step 3 and add the juice to bowl, too.

6. Put the seeds into a large stainless tea ball with a latch. If you don’t have a tea ball, a spice bag or tied up piece of cheesecloth will do. Toss the ball of seeds right into the bowl with the lemons and water.

7. Cover the bowl with parchment paper or a large dinner plate and let it stand in the fridge overnight. (I don’t recommend covering the bowl with a cloth. If it slips into the water and soaks up all the water, you’ll be in trouble.

Why Use The Seeds?

The seeds are very high in pectin. Including them helps your marmalade to jell. Some folks say it’s not necessary to include the seeds—and that’s technically true. Even without the seeds, your marmalade will set just fine if you cook it long enough. I made this recipe a dozen times before I decided to give the “seed method” a chance. I wanted to find out whether the seeds would allow me to get a better set. They did! Now I always include them.

Day Two

1. Sterilize your jars and put 5 teaspoons on a plate in the freezer, to test your marmalade for doneness later.

2. Put the contents of the bowl (including the tea ball full of seeds) into a large, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive pot — not uncoated aluminum, cast iron, or copper. Simmer the lemons until the peels are soft. To test them: Press one of the peels against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. If it comes apart easily, your lemons are ready for the next step.

3. Add the sugar and stir gently until it dissolves, then turn the heat to high.

4. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook it on high heat until it reaches the jelling point. Be patient, because it will take some time to get there — about 30-40 minutes. (The first time I made this marmalade, I couldn’t believe it would take so long and pulled the mixture from the heat way too soon. I ended up with a gloppy mess.) And don’t over-stir the mixture! Every time you stir, you reduce the temperature. Let it cook steadily for at least 20 minutes or so, then stir occasionally near the end of the cooking process, so the mixture doesn’t stick. I start testing for doneness when the mixture reaches 220F on a candy thermometer. (After you’ve made this recipe many times, you may want to give up the candy thermometer, but it’s a good way to start.)

The Frozen Spoon Test

Remove the pan from the heat source before testing. Use one of the frozen spoons to scoop up a little bit of the preserve — not a whole spoonful, more like half. Return the spoon to the freezer and wait 3 minutes. Retrieve the spoon. When you push the marmalade with your finger, it should wrinkle subtly but all the way through. If you hold the spoon vertically, it should hang together as a whole and start to move very slowly down the spoon. It shouldn’t be runny.

5. When the mixture passes the test for doneness, take out seed ball, and ladle the hot marmalade into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel if necessary, then put on your lids and bands.

6. Process in a water bath canner, using the correct time for your altitude: 5 minutes for 0-1,000 feet above sea level, plus 1 minute for every additional 1,000 feet.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade | Hitchhiking to Heaven


An Optional Pectin Trick

A couple years ago, when I was making batch after batch of Meyer Lemon Marmalade in anticipation of starting a cottage food business, I cooked up a subtle trick using Pomona’s Pectin that makes the set a shoo-in without compromising the texture. That means you get to skip the sometimes protracted testing and nail-biting part. It also reduces the overall amount of sugar in the recipe. If you want to try it, here’s what to do.

  • Get yourself some Pomona’s Pectin.
  • Reduce the total amount of sugar in the recipe to 5 3/4 cups.
  • On Day 2, just before Step 3, separate out 1/2 cup of sugar and thoroughly mix in 1 1/2 teaspoons of pectin powder.
  • At Step 4, add 2 teaspoons of calcium water (directions for making this are in the Pomona’s box) to the mixture as it heats. Continue to cook the marmalade until your thermometer reaches 220 and let it hang there for a moment or two.
  • Stir in the pectin-sugar and cook the mixture for two more minutes.
  • Pull the mixture off the heat and continue with Steps 5 and 6.

This was a relaxing, no fail solution for me. I hope it works for you, too!

P.S. Here’s a note thanks to a comment from a sharp reader: If you use the pectin trick, you’re welcome to leave the seeds out of the process. Your set should turn out just fine without them.

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  • Reply Miranda December 29, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    I found this recipe via Punk Domestics. It appeared in my RSS feed on a day I just happened to have a pound of Meyer lemons. I used your Pomona’s Pectin variation. This marmalade is lovely. Not too sweet, and the special flavor of the Meyer lemons comes through beautifully.

    • Reply Shae December 29, 2014 at 9:21 pm

      Thanks for letting me know, Miranda! I’m happy to hear the pectin trick worked well for you, too. :-)

      • Reply Kathleen Kelly February 9, 2015 at 3:27 pm

        Help! This is my 1st time making jelly. I have my lemon peels soaking in the fridge over night. I am using the pectin method, but am confused by a couple things.
        1. Do I make the calcium water (1/2 tsp calcium powder and 1/2 cup water) and only use 2 teaspoons of that mix?
        2. I am confused when to add the 1/2 cup sugar/1 1/2 teaspoons pectin powder vs. the other 5 1/4 cup sugar.

        • Reply Shae February 9, 2015 at 4:00 pm

          Hi Kathleen:

          Don’t worry, you have plenty of time to figure this out while your lemons are soaking! Here are my answers:

          1) You are right. Use only 2 teaspoons of the calcium water mix. If you like, you can store the rest of the calcium water in the fridge for other Pomona’s preserves this spring or early summer. It will last many months. The Pomona’s website has an FAQ for all kinds of questions about what’s in your pectin box:

          2) Add the 5 1/4 cups of sugar at Day Two/Step 3 and begin cooking your mixture. Then, after the mixture reaches 220, stir in the pectin sugar.

          I hope this helps. You picked a complicated recipe to tackle for your first project. After this, you’ll be able to do anything! :-)

  • Reply Carol Mares March 1, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    Thank you for the illustrations on how to cut the lemons!

    • Reply Shae March 7, 2015 at 11:46 am

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Carol!

  • Reply Cathy March 7, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Ever since I read about your recipe on Food in Jars, have been hoping to make it. Winter blues have delayed things, but finally today I used my tiny hoard of Meyer lemons from a local produce place…hard to find them in Philly. Your marmalade tastes fabulous, although it isn’t the bright sunny yellow of your photo. Typically, wouldn’t sugar cooking so long turn amber anyway? Slathering it on a croissant right now. Thanks for sharing a treasure of a a recipe.

  • Reply Kathleen Autrey November 30, 2015 at 8:11 am

    Good Morning, I just need some advice. I made the above recipe over the last two days and it is so bitter that it is not edible. Any ideas? Also, I live at sea level and it seems to take a long time for things to boil . . . at least without a top on the pan. I never did get this up to 220 on the candy thermometer after cooking for an hour, but when I did the test in the freezer, decided it was ready. It did set up nicely and each little jar sealed. Do you know anything about sea level cooking that I should adjust for? We are new to sea level having come from the desert in Arizona! Thanks!

    • Reply Shae November 30, 2015 at 8:43 am

      Hi Kathleen: Sorry you had a frustrating experience. I live at sea level and have used this recipe consistently without trouble. Does your stovetop reach normal temps? And are you sure you used Meyer lemons? (I ask that only because of your comment about the bitterness. I know what this recipe tastes like when it’s overcooked — not good — but I don’t think I’ve had the experience of it being bitter.) I’m not sure what else to ask. In my experience, it takes a while (less than an hour, tho) for the mixture to reach 220, but it always does and it would go well above that if I let it.

  • Reply Kathleen Autrey November 30, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Yes, definitely Meyer Lemons . . . they were beautiful from a friend who grows them in California. I made marmalade once before from her lemons. Well, thank you for your quick response. My stovetop is gas and does get very hot. I used two different candy thermometers and neither went above 200 although the mixture was boiling. The texture is fine, but I snuck a couple of tastes early on in the process and it was bitter from the start. I did remove the pith per your instructions, so don’t understand. Well, back to the drawing board! Thanks Shae.

    • Reply Shae November 30, 2015 at 9:22 am

      Shoot, Kathleen, I don’t understand, either. I’m sorry! Have you made other marmalades since you moved to the new place? I do wonder about that bitterness. If something is bitter from the get go, it’s not going to get less so as it cooks — and there’s nothing unusual about this recipe in terms of ingredients, just fruit, a typical amount of sugar, and water. That initial tasting can say a lot about how things will turn out in the end. I wish you the best in your future marmalading endeavors!

  • Reply Lingonberry (Lowbush Cranberry) Mandarin Marmalade - Hitchhiking to Heaven December 8, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    […] few weeks ago, in the midst of a household cleaning and organizing spree, I turned up two cases of Meyer lemon marmalade I made in 2012. Tucked into one of those boxes was a single jar of lingonberry mandarin marmalade, […]

  • Reply Karen Clark January 6, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    I tried the recipe for Meyer Lemon Marmalade a week ago and used the pectin method to make sure it set, also to cut down on the sugar. This morning I made another batch, without the pectin. I like the texture better, and the increased amount of sugar isn’t a big difference. My question is regarding the “2 1/2 lbs Meyer lemons”. Should this weight equal 7 cups sliced lemons (and juice)? I didn’t have a precise weight of lemons but measured them after they were all sliced, to equal 6 cups. So I used 6 cups of water and 6 cups of sugar. Absolute perfection. (One trick to knowing when it’s set–when it is bubbling hard enough in the pot that some spatters on the stove top and can’t be easily wiped off, and then on the side of your hand–ouch–and immediately sets, it’s done.) Thank you for the photos; they are helpful.

  • Reply Kelli January 29, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Thank you for this recipe–I’m especially happy to see the pectin option. Question: If I’m using the Pomona pectin, is this in addition to the seeds + pith in the cheesecloth, or do I skip the seeds bit altogether? Thank you!

    • Reply Shae January 29, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      What a great question, Kelli — thanks! It never hurts to use the seeds, but if you use the pectin, yes, you can skip the seed thing altogether. I’ll add a note about that to the post.

  • Reply SocialTech360 August 24, 2016 at 11:03 am

    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.

  • Reply jo October 16, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Hi Shae

    Thank you for the great recipe, this will be the first time i’ve made marmalade so i really appreciate the clarity of your instructions and the comments section.
    I was wondering if i could use the same recipe for Grapefruits, Oranges, and mixed citrus marmalade or if i would need to change the ratios? And also if i can use this recipe as a base to add in, for example rosemary or ginger?

    Many thanks

  • Reply Sherry December 11, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    Thank you for posting your Meyer lemon marmalade recipe with such good instructions for preparing the lemons. I followed your instructions closely for using Pomona pectin and got a good set, but my marmalade came out amber in color and not the beautiful bright yellow of your photo. Do you know what I might do to assure that bright color when making your recipe? Thank you.

  • Reply Darcy Wheeles January 3, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful recipe! A few questions:
    1. About how many cups of slices lemons does 2.5 pounds produce?
    2. Have you ever added ginger? If so, how much? I’ve see recipes that call for anywhere between 1 Tablespoon for 2 lbs of grated fresh ginger, to 1/2 cup!
    3. Can I substitute Bearss/Persian limes? They do not have seeds, but I can use the pectin method.

    • Reply Shae February 7, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Hi Darcy: I’m sorry I don’t know how many cups of slices. I’ve always just weighed them. Next time I make this, I’ll try to remember to measure them out and come back here with a note about it. I’ve never added ginger; you’d have to experiment for your taste — maybe start small! And, yes, you can substitute Bearss limes but you’ll have better results if they’re on the ripe side — not too hard and green. I have a recipe for Meyer Lemon-Lime Marmalade that talks a bit about this. Thanks for your comment and good luck to you!

  • Reply Edward February 2, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    Why do you soak them over night?

    • Reply Shae February 7, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      Hi Edward: You do it so the water becomes infused with pectin from the lemons; you’ll get a better set that way.

  • Reply Ken March 11, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Hi, I would like to know if you can double, triple or quadruple the recipe as I have so many lemons that I need to use.

    • Reply Shae March 11, 2017 at 11:57 pm

      Hi Ken: It’s never a good idea to double a marmalade recipe. It changes too many well-calibrated ratios and you won’t get good results — most likely overcooking and/or not setting. I know it’s not easy (I’ve been there!) but it’s best to make multiple small batches.

  • Reply Sara March 24, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Thank you for sharing your recipe, it’s very generous of you. Before I start could you tell me if you have ever used a mandolin to slice the lemons and what the results were? Thanks so much!

    • Reply Shae March 29, 2017 at 9:53 am

      Sara, I always slice them by hand. But if you do the first steps to remove the seeds, I don’t see why you couldn’t slice them with a mandoline. Why not experiment to see how it works?

  • Reply Sue Loudon November 21, 2017 at 5:53 am

    I made this marmalade earlier this year, and because of my overload of Meyer lemons at the time, I was not as appreciative of the results as I am now. My lemon tree fell on hard times this summer and it is in the recovery phase, so there will be no lemons this winter. All that remains are a few jars of marmalade…LOVE…one frozen packet for a Shaker lemon pie, and a bottle of limoncello. Sometimes my local Walmart gets Meyer lemons, and if they do, I will buy them out to make more marmalade using this amazing recipe. I am crossing my fingers!

    • Reply Shae November 21, 2017 at 11:24 am

      Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a note, Sue. I hope you find your lemons this winter and also that your tree bounces back by next year!

  • Reply Sue Loudon January 7, 2018 at 8:51 am

    The local grocery store is carrying Meyer lemons for the very first time and I tracked down the produce manager to thank her. This has allowed me to get my lemony fix…limoncello, Shaker Lemon pie, and a batch of this marvelous marmalade. I sure wish I could upload a picture, in spite of rushing and including the the pectin sugar with the rest of the sugar…an OH NO moment for sure, my marmalade turned out perfectly. It’s a bright sunshiny color on this day that started at -17 degrees. My heart is warm to know that I can taste this sunshine throughout 2018. I love this recipe!

    • Reply Shae January 7, 2018 at 8:58 am

      Wow, Sue, thank you for this note — and for your unintentional testing of one aspect of the recipe. I wouldn’t have suspected that you’d get the right set by adding the pectin and sugar all in one go. Maybe it’s because of the relatively short cooking time after adding the sugar? I don’t know, but I’m so glad you found your lemons and that this recipe worked for you. Stay warm! — Shae

  • Reply Sue Loudon January 7, 2018 at 9:51 am

    I couldn’t tell you why it worked, but I did include the seeds with the lemons and through the first simmer. Once I added all the sugar it still took quite a while to reach 220. I tried the frozen spoon but followed my gut and allowed it to cook a few minutes at 220. I would definitely go the correct route in the future, because perhaps I just got lucky. You know how much work slicing those lemons was, so achieving success in spite of my error, was quite sweet!

  • Reply Lana February 3, 2018 at 10:49 am

    Hi, I was reading a lot of different Meyer lemons marmalade recipes abd some of them are talking about blanching.
    Will the overnight soaking take care of the bitterness or Meyer lemons are not bitter?
    And i am wondering about using Ball brand of the pectin, only because it is available to me today.
    Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Reply Svetlana February 3, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Hi, I was reading a lot of different Meyer lemons marmalade recipes abd some of them are talking about blanching.
    Will the overnight soaking take care of the bitterness or Meyer lemons are not bitter?
    And i am wondering about using Ball brand of the pectin, only because it is available to me today.
    Thank you for the inspiration.

    • Reply Shae February 3, 2018 at 10:58 am

      Hi Lana: All citrus will have at least some bitterness, but Meyer lemons are sweeter and softer than others. Because they are so soft, I wouldn’t recommend any additional blanching. And Ball pectin is very different from Pomona. You won’t get the same results using the method I describe here; there’s a good chance your marmalade wouldn’t set at all. If you want to use the Ball pectin, it would be best to find a recipe that’s specifically written for that, rather than using this one. Have fun marmalading! ~ Shae

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