Making Meyer Lemon Marmalade

by Meg Cotner on December 17, 2013

Meyer lemons from the Lemon Ladies

It’s citrus season! I love all the delicious citrus fruit that shows up this time of year, and one of my favorites is Meyer lemons.

Back in November, I got my yearly email from the Lemon Ladies, announcing the start of their harvest. Lemon Ladies are a group of women who tend and manage a Meyer Lemon orchard in Emerald Hills, CA, a small community near San Mateo in the greater SF Bay Area (map). Their groves are 100% dedicated to Meyer lemons, and I have been extremely happy with the quality of the fruit I’ve received from them. This year’s lemons were fantastic—gorgeous sunny yellow oblong orbs that smell amazing. And they taste wonderful!

I’ve done a variety of things with Meyer lemons over the years—they are perfect for preserved lemons, make amazing lemon curd, and I’ve even dried them (dried Meyer lemons are really good added to a glass of water). But what I really wanted to do with them this year was to make marmalade. I almost made it a couple of years ago, but got scared off, thinking the process was too difficult. I couldn’t have been more wrong—at least with the recipe I used this year, it was a breeze! It just took a little planning. 

I did some internet research and settled on this recipe for Blood Orange Marmalade by Marisa of Food in Jars. She writes in the accompanying post that Meyer lemons can be used in place of the blood oranges, with no adjustments needed. It looked very simple and straightforward—fruit and sugar, no pectin. And it was! The resulting marmalade is ridiculously good. I love how the lemon rind sort of caramelized, and is suspended in a soft sweet, lemony jelly. It’s great on toast, of course, but it’s also lovely mixed with strained yogurt.

I started with a pound of lemons, which I then halved and cored, reserving any scraps like peels, pith, or seeds.

Meyer lemons halved and cored

Then I sliced the lemon halves very thinly, about 1/8 inch thick.

Sliced Meyer lemons

Then I cut them in half, so I had a lot of little quarter moon lemon slices. I put them in a bowl and added 3 cups of water.

Little quarter moon Meyer lemon slices

And speaking of the scraps—I put them all in the fantastic Nut Milk Bag I got from Cultures for Health. It’s very well made, sturdy, and I’ve used it many times, mostly for straining horchata. It worked like a charm for the marmalade process—I just put everything in there, cinched the bag closed and placed it in the bowl containing the lemons and water, and covered it all in plastic wrap.

Meyer lemons, water, and scraps

I let the lemons, water, and scraps sit in the fridge for probably a day total, but I’m sure you could just soak them overnight.

I removed the bag of scraps, dumped everything else into a stock pot (8 qt) and added 2 1/2 cups of granulated sugar.

Meyer lemon quarter slices with granulated sugar

I let that all cook until the mixture met three requirements:

  1. Reduced by more than half
  2. Read 220 degrees F on a thermometer
  3. Passed the plate/sauce/wrinkle test

For that last test, I just put a little plate in the freezer and tested the liquid on it after the temp reached 220. If a drop of liquid stopped being runny, sat there and developed a bit of a skin, the jelling was just right. Marisa explains it more here.

Meyer lemons and sugar cooked down

There were times that the temperature went a little above 220 while it was still not quite reduced enough, but that didn’t seem to affect the marmalade negatively. I would adjust the heat accordingly to bring the temperature down and keep it near 220.

During this whole process I used a pretty reliable digital thermometer; I used to use an analog thermometer but found it would often lead me astray (granted, it was kind of cheap). The thermometer I use is made by Polder—this one, which I love. I highly recommend getting a reliable thermometer for this kind of work.

After the mixture was properly reduced, was hot enough, and passed the wrinkle test, I spooned the marmalade into 1/4 pint jars, screwed on the lids and put them in the fridge. Yes, I could have processed them in a water bath, but I was feeling lazy, and figured I would eat the marmalade before its time was up (6 months). For a little insurance, I put two of the six jars in the freezer.

The final product - Meyer lemon marmalade

Overall, this marmalade making process was a pretty positive one. I’m looking forward to using this recipe to make actual blood orange marmalade, which I expect will be seriously delicious.

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