Thursday, January 24, 2013

Making Lemon Marmalade (with Printable Labels) ~ Citrus Series

There is something so nostalgic about a simmering pot of lemon marmalade on a cold, winter day. The yellow color is like a burst of sunshine! The aroma seems to connect you to your Victorian ancestors who graced their stoves with similar preserves. Louisa May Alcott noted after a trip to England that, "a choice pot of marmalade" was an essential to "British table comfort". Could it be to ours too?

"Mrs. Hale was hurried. It seemed as if desserts were impromptu and unusual things at the parsonage; whereas, if Mr. Hale would only have looked behind him, he would have seen biscuits and marmalade, and what not, all arranged in formal order on the sideboard. But the idea of pears had taken possession of Mr. Hale's mind, and was not to be got rid of."

~ Elizabeth Gaskell, North & South

Marmalade can be spread on toast or warm scones for a zesty flavor. It can be added into your hot tea for a tasty treat or preserved in jars awaiting those sweet, summer iced teas. 

The first step is to gather the goods:
  • 9 - 10 lemons (washed well)
  • 15 cups of water
  • warm sugar (this depends on the amount of lemon liquid you have at the end, about 8 cups)
  • candy thermometer

Remove the zest from the lemons.

Slice it up into thin strips.

Note: When I finished with these steps, I set the lemons and peels aside. I tended to some needs in the family and completed the next step a few hours later. The break in the day made this project feel less demanding and more like leisure.

Chop the flesh of your lemons and save the seeds. These should be placed in a piece of cheese-cloth. If you have extra thick pith (the white stuff surrounding the lemon under the peel), you can include it with the seeds inside your cloth. These ingredients are kept because they are full of pectin. This is what thickens your marmalade.

Place your chopped lemon flesh and its juices with your sliced zest, in a stainless steel pot. Tie your seeds and extra pith in the cheese-cloth, attached with a string. Add this into the pot as well (see photo above).

Add 15 cups of water and bring ingredients to a boil.

Once brought to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and stir occasionally for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until the zest is very soft. Your mixture should have reduced by about one-third. If not, keep on simmering until it does. Remove the cheesecloth bag from the pot and squeeze out any excess juices. Discard.

Measure the remaining juice (I use a large glass, oven-proof measuring cup). For each one cup of juice, measure out one cup of warmed sugar (To warm sugar: place in an oven proof bowl at lowest setting for 15 minutes. This helps it to dissolve quicker).

Now, pour the lemon liquid back into your pot and add the "calculated amount" of warmed sugar.  Stir at low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Once that is achieved, boil your mixture rapidly, without stirring for 15 minutes or until your marmalade reaches setting point (220 degrees). Skim off any froth/foam. 

Let marmalade sit for five minutes before placing in hot, sterilized jars. This keeps the fruit from floating on the top and will help to evenly distribute the peels. Make sure to leave 1/8 inch head space. Process jars in a boiling water bath canner. Pint jars should be processed for 10 minutes and half-pint jars for 5 minutes. I like to use half pints since this isn't the type of jam that gets used up quickly in sandwiches and such.

If canning doesn't appeal to you, keep on reading...

For more detailed instructions on water bath canning, visit {here}.

Now for the fun part! You get to label your marmalade! Our free printable is HERE (just download and/or print). It is basic enough to where you can use it for any of your lemon creations.

Just use the lids and screw bands as patterns and cut according to your needs. These will work for both wide and regular mouth jars. You will just have more of a wider "white" border with the wide mouth jars. I don't bother gluing these down since they are cut to fit right under the screw lid.

Note to Self: After using a pallet of sugar for this recipe, I have challenged myself to create a honey version (includes printable recipe) for next time. 

You can always place the finished products into plastic containers and store in the freezer. I did this to the small amount that was leftover after I filled my canning rack with jars (I didn't have enough to warrant two whole batches). The only thing is that these did not completely solidify in the freezer. They kept for at least six months until summer (maybe even more but we finished them before hand). Don't forget to keep some in the refrigerator to use now and invite that dear friend over for tea!

"I beg your pardon?" said Ribby.
"May I pass you the marmalade?" said Duchess hurriedly.


  1. This sounds perfect right now with some homemade biscuits fresh from the oven :)
    Thank you for the detailed instructions on how to make this delicious looking marmalade.


  2. Halloo, dearie! This makes me feel like we are somewhere in the countryside of England and having a tea with Ribby and the Duchess! Your photography is absolutely gorgeous...those golden tones and the pink and green quilting are my colors!

    1. Wouldn't that be fun! Pass the honey, Ms. Jacqueline...

      Thank you!

  3. This looks amazing! I've made my own orange marmalade, and even an orange and grapefruit marmalade, but never lemon :) Would love to have you share this on The HomeAcre Hop tonight at:

    Hope to see you there!

  4. Oh yum! This looks amazing!! I might have to try this out! :)

  5. This look wonderful, but could you just say how much marmalade is enventually made after all the boiling?

    1. Oh dear, I can't remember... Perhaps 9 half pints or so... The boiling makes the marmalade nice and thick and spreadable :)


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