Three-Citrus Marmalade Recipe

4 1/2 pounds of fruit

One of the very first recipes I posted to this blog was one for Orange-Ginger Marmalade. I’m having a bit of a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that I’ve nearly cooked my way through an entire year of canning since then and that it’s time for marmalade, once again.

I’ve learned a great deal about preserves since then, and I think that this approach to marmalade is easier and more sensible that the one I originally took. This one used the outer layer of citrus zest, but discards the inner pith, making for easier chopping and a more tender product. I’m completely delighted with the way that this batch turned out, and last night, when I served it at a party along side a long of goat cheese, I felt so proud that it was something I had made in my own little kitchen.

de-zested citrus

To begin, weigh your fruit. Conventional fruit is fairly uniform in size these days, but there can still be a great deal of variety in weight, depending on storing conditions and length of time off the tree. I used 2 pink grapefruit, 3 lemons and four navel oranges and had approximately 4 and 1/2 pounds of fruit. Feel free to add or subtract a lemon or orange to achieve the right weight. Scrub your citrus well, so that you can feel good about including all that lovely, fragrant zest in your preserve.

serrated peeler

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from your citrus. I tried every peeler I own (at least five) and found that the serrated peeler you see above did the best job. Please take care when using one of these tools though, as those little teeth are incredibly sharp. At one point, I slipped and ended up with a series of punctures in the tip of my pinky finger. Not pleasant when working with acidic citrus.

chopping zest

Once your citrus has been stripped, chop the zest into fine ribbons. I found that the best way to do this was to stack four or five strips of zest and then mince them (mind your fingers!) into bits about 1/4 of an inch wide. I found that my 4 1/2 pounds of fruit yielded approximately 2 1/2 cups of zest bits.

zest in motion

Fill a medium-sized pot with 6 cups of cold water, add your zest ribbons and bring to a boil. Simmer the zest for half an hour, until it’s tender and uniform in color. While it boils…

chop, chop

Use a sharp paring knife to break your naked fruit down. Take a grapefruit and cut the north and south poles off (to give yourself stable bases). Then, working top to bottom, cut the white pith off the fruit (you want to expose the interior surface of the fruit). When all the white pith is removed, use the knife to separate the fruit from the membrane of the fruit (this technique is called supreming and there’s a helpful tutorial over on Coconut & Lime, if my written instructions aren’t doing it for you). Collect the naked segments in a large measuring cup and reserve the membranes and seeds.

bundle of seeds, pith and membranes

When all the fruit has been broken down, gather up the reserved seeds and membranes in a piece of cheesecloth. Bundle it up well and tie off the top, so that none of the seeds can escape. One does this because the seeds, membrane and pith contain a great deal of pectin. You will boil this bundle with the fruit while you make the marmalade, so that you extract the maximum amount of pectin from your fruit.

draining the zest bits

At this point, the zest should be done boiling. Drain the cooked zest, reserving the boiling water. This liquid has been infused with a great deal of citrus flavor and so some of it will be used in the marmalade.

boil, boil

Finally, it’s time to make marmalade! In a large, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot (a stainless steel or enameled dutch oven is your best bet there), combine the zest ribbons, the citrus segments (approximately 4+ cups), 4 cups of the zest cooking liquid, 6 cups of sugar and the cheesecloth bundle.

the magic temperature

Bring the pot to a boil. It’s a good idea to use a big pot for this, so that you have plenty of room for the marmalade to bubble. Pair that large pot with a instant read thermometer with a temperature alarm, and you don’t have to watch it the entire time. Set the thermometer to 220 degrees (that’s the point at which the marmalade will achieve set), place the thermometer probe in the pot (balancing it so that you keep the cord away from the burner) and feel okay turning your back to do some dishes (return to it every 4-5 minutes to stir). This will need to boil for 30-40 minutes, in order to reach and sustain 220 degrees.

While it cooks, you can also prepare your canning pot, jars (for this recipe, they need to be sterilized, as this one is only processed for five minutes. I find that the easiest way to do this is to put them in the canning pot when you’re first filling it and bring them up to a boil along with the water), lids (simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat to soften the sealing medium) and rings.

finished marmalade, waiting to be poured into jars

Once the marmalade has reached 220 degrees and has stayed there for at least a minute, check the potential set by putting a small dab of the hot marmalade into the middle of a cold plate. Let it sit for a moment and then nudge it with your finger. If the surface wrinkles and seems firm, it is ready. If it is still quite runny, boil it for several additional minutes.

Once the text yields a good result, turn the heat off and remove the pot from the burner. Gently stir the marmalade for about a minute off the heat. I’ve learned over the years that this helps the zest distribute itself evenly throughout your preserve (I hate it when the solids clump towards the top of the jar, and this helps prevent that from happening).

filling jars

Fill your jars (this recipe makes approximately 3 1/2 pints), leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. When they’re all filled, wipe the rims to remove any sticky residue, apply the lids and screw on the rims. Carefully lower the filled jars into the canning pot (don’t forget to put a rack in the pot). Process in a boiling water canner for five minutes (starting the time when the pot returns to a boil). When the five minutes are up, remove the jars from the pot and let them rest on a towel-lined counter top until the jars are completely cool.

three-citrus marmalade

Here’s my serving suggestion: Spread spoonfuls on freshly baked scones, drink black tea with milk and sugar, and pretend you’re in Gosford Park.

And, because I’m so proud of this lovely, fragrant, gently-bitter marmalade, I have a jar to give away. I’ve set that little four-ounce jar you see up there on the right aside for one of you lovely readers. Leave a comment by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, February 18th, 2010 to enter.

A recipe, in a more conventional format, can be found after the jump.

Three-Citrus Marmalade

Yield: 3 1/2 Pints


  • 2 pink grapefruit
  • 3 lemons
  • 4 navel oranges
  • 6 cups of sugar
  • 4 cups of zest poaching liquid


  1. Wash and dry the fruit. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the fruit. Cut the zest strips into a fine confetti. Combine the zest in a pot with 6 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce temperature to medium high and simmer for half an hour.
  2. While the zest cooks, cut the white pith away from the fruit and separate the fruit from the membranes (see instructions above for greater detail). Collect the interior fruit in a large measuring cup and set the membranes and any seeds aside.
  3. When all the fruit has been broken down, bundle the reserved pith and seeds into a length of cheesecloth, tying the cloth well so that no seeds can escape.
  4. Drain the zest, reserving the cooking liquid.
  5. In a large stainless steel or enameled cast iron pot, combine zest, citrus fruit, 4 cups of zest cooking liquid, 6 cups of sugar and the cheesecloth bundle.
  6. Bring to a boil and cook vigorously until the mixture reaches 220 degrees (this takes between 30-40 minutes).
  7. When the marmalade reaches 220 degrees and sustains it for one minute, remove the pot from the heat. Stir for about a minute off the heat, to help the zest bits become evenly spread throughout the preserve.
  8. Fill prepared jars (see above for jar preparation instructions), wipe rims, apply lids and screw rings. Lower into a prepared boiling water bath and process for five minutes at a gentle boil (do not start counting time until the pot has achieved a boil).
  9. When time is up, remove jars from the pot and let them cool completely. When they are cool to the touch, check the seals by pushing down on the top of the lid. Lack of movement means a good seal.


Recipe adapted from several marmalade recipes in “So Easy to Preserve“

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216 Responses to Three-Citrus Marmalade Recipe

  1. 101

    […] Take, for instance, this marmalade that I adapted from a recipe I found on Food in Jars, a great blog devoted to home canning. The recipe for Three Citrus Marmalade is found here. […]

  2. 102
    Sally says:

    I haven’t canned in years – and never marmalade – so your three citrus was the first on both counts. Unfortunately the first batch didn’t set. I made a second version, thinking perhaps I had let the marmalade bubble too long at temperature while I waited for the jars to sterilize. It didn’t set either. I decided that there simply wasn’t enough pectin given this instructions. I’ll try it again a third time – this time with blood oranges and ugli fruit. And I’ll add the pith into the cheese cloth to see if that solves it.

  3. 103
    Marisa says:

    Sally, I’m so sorry to hear that your first two attempts at marmalade didn’t set. I wrote the recipe exactly as I prepared it myself and I achieved a good set, but there are a number of factors that can alter outcomes, including environmental humidity, pot size and the heat level of your stove.

    You can still save the unset marmalade (although you will have to sacrifice the lids you used). To do this, you uncan the marmalade and recook it, bringing it up to set temperature. You can boil it, using the cold plate method to test for set, or you can add a packet of liquid pectin to it while it boils, to ensure a jellied set.

  4. 104

    […] Food in Jars — a great website with beautiful pictures of the process … check it […]

  5. 105

    […] has some great suggestions for her Three-Citrus Marmalade such as pairing it with some goat cheese or spreading it on freshly baked scones and drinking tea […]

  6. 106
    Robin says:

    This recipe looks great! As always I am scribbling your ingredients on my shopping list (this marmalade looks like it might be a perfect little Christmas gift.)
    As a canning newbie I have a couple questions:
    1. I might add pectin since I don’t have a thermometer like yours. You have mentioned liquid pectin a few times in comments, is there a reason for liquid pectin vs. powdered?

    2. Is this marmalade very sweet? (Using six cups of sugar.) I have been using the low-sugar powdered pectin that allows you to reduce the sugar from 6 cups to 3 cups in recipes. Would you advise this or is that much sugar really needed to balance out to tart?


  7. 107
    Kimberley says:

    Hello Marisa! I followed this recipe over the weekend and also found that it didn’t set (following 3 different cold plate tests). No worries, though, because I had pectin on hand and added it at the end. I also noticed that when you boil just the rind in the beginning, it didn’t specify whether to do that with or without a lid. I did it uncovered and wound up losing most of the liquid – so I am assuming that you should boil it covered, yes? (I love love love your blog, and still found your instructions incredibly helpful!)

  8. 108

    […] MARMALADE from The Year in Food with generous guidance from Food in Jars Yield: about 7 half-pint jars 3 pounds navel oranges 2 large lemons 4-5 cups organic cane or white […]

  9. 109

    […] adapted recipes from Food in Jars and Pomona’s Pectin, and ended up with following (it’s a much brighter red than it […]

  10. 110
    Erika says:

    I also made this recipe and found it didn’t set. I am hesitant to use pectin from a box. I am trying it again tonight and am planning to boil the bag of trimmings with the zest, and then letting all of it cool before squeezing the bag like hell. I think unless you squeeze all the liquid out of the bag, you are missing a lot of that great natural pectin, which is maybe why mine didn’t set in the first set. But the flavor is so lovely!! I’ve been eating it every day!

  11. 111
    Mary says:

    This sounds so yummy! I love marmalade except I worry about the bitterness of cooking the pith of grapefruit. What is meant by “gently bitter?” I just discovered this blog and love canning so I hope to do some backtracking to some of your other posts.

  12. 112

    […] year I made my first batch of mixed citrus jam following a method from Food in Jars.  Marisa doesn’t use boxed pectin but the natural stuff from the membrane, rind and seeds […]

  13. 113
    Sue Schwartz says:

    I am going to try it with one less grapefruit, hoping that will yield an slightly more gentle “gently bitter” flavor. Love the tip about removing the pith and them extracting the pectin from those scraps.

  14. 114
    Katie-Rose says:

    Although my mother has canned for years, I did not do so until this winter, when I moved home for graduate school. This was my first solo canning recipe, and I’ve since made it twice.

    I upped the grapefruit and cut back a bit on the other citrus, mostly because I didn’t have enough (and I love grapefruit). It’s turned out well both times–perhaps a little runny, but with so much zest in it, it kind of holds its own. I really appreciate your directions and recipes. Thank you for sharing!

  15. 115

    […] did quite a bit of pre-marmalading research on my favorite canning blogs (One Green Generation and Food in Jars ) and ended up creating my own recipe based off a few I found. Normally with canning I stick to a […]

  16. 116
    Abby Perkins says:

    I got an F in Junior High Home Ec because my supreming was so bad. But I went on to hotel-restaurant school and have worked in food/restaurants all my life! I’m going to try supreming again just to make this marmalade exactly as directed. Could we add a little ginger?

  17. 117
    Kelley Kirtley says:

    I tried this for my very first preserving experience. It turned out so amazing! I am now obsessed with trying out more of your fantastic recipes. Thank you!!!

  18. 118

    […] Saturday I made triple citrus + ginger marmalade. I used this Food in Jars recipe and added chopped ginger at the step when you boil the zest for 30 […]

  19. 119
    Maria says:

    Hi Marissa,

    I just made your marmalade and it looks runny, but I canned it anyway. I think in your recipe you should include the weight of the fruit and exact measurements. I didn’t get 3 1/2 pints and used your recipe exactly. I got more like 9 half pints. My results were runny, but the taste is amazing! I don’t know if it will set or not, but do you have any suggestions if it doesn’t set? And how long should I wait to see if it does set?

    It was a lot of work peeling, preparing and boiling jars, etc., I don’t want to feel like my time and work were wasted.

    Thank you,

  20. 120

    […] the finger should be measured horizontally, not vertically. I made it two fingers, used some of Marisa’s three citrus marmalade that I made last winter, and the Lazy Lady’s Marmalade Old Fashioned was born. Initially, I was a little concerned […]

  21. 121
    Angela says:

    just made this and it set perfectly. really interesting flavor profile. thank you for sharing your recipes, it’s really made for an exciting holiday season.

  22. 122
    Andrea says:

    I just made this. It seems to have set up okay, but the bitterness was amazing. I ended up adding an additional 3 cups of sugar, just to get it to a “bite” and not “mouth puckering” stage. I wonder what size lemons and grapefruit you used. Mine were both large and I wondered if that was part of the problem. I also ended up with a larger volume (5 500mL jars), and since I cooked it for 45 minutes (and had it at 220F for a few minutes), I wonder if my fruit was just significantly larger than what you used?

  23. 123
    Gary says:

    I have some great local Florida honey that I would like to incorporate into this recipe. Any suggestions and have you tried it

  24. 124
    Deb Wolf says:

    I’d love to try your marmalade before making it, so send that jar to me :). I’ve tried one marmalade recipe so far which had the odd addition of tart apples (for pectin?). It’s yummy but much too firm set. I like your idea of boiling the zest to soften before adding other ingredients. I’ll keep it in mind for next summer, when I do all my canning.

  25. 125
    Lyla says:

    Here’s a welcome shortcut: Why spend all that time making perfect little slivers of the rinds? I just throw the shavings into the food processor and whirl til they’re small bits…they taste just the same in the finished product! :)

  26. 126

    […] home and trudge through the snow to the coop to buy oranges and meyer lemons and grapefruit for Three Citrus Marmalade . I zested, cut away the pith, supreme the segments, and boiled it all up with sugar. It took longer […]

  27. 127
    Rose says:

    My husband bought a box of organic citrus fruit and when I saw 3 lemons in amongst the grapefruit and oranges I knew what to do. I used my new kitchen scale to measure 4 1/2 to 5 pounds of fruit and started making marmalade. All went well until I combined all of the ingredients and started to cook. I had a hard time getting the mixture to get to a temperature above boiling. I started to think that maybe I needed to make some adaptations because I live at +6500 feet altitude. I did some quick googling to figure out what temperature might equate to 220 degrees at altitude. And I decided after boiling for an hour and a half to pull the cheesecloth with the pith and membranes out of the pan. I cooked to 210 degrees and then poured the marmalade into jars and canned it. The few tablespoons that were left over tasted wonderful. There was a bitterness to it; but there was enough sweetness. The marmalade set nicely and I’m completely satisfied. I will tell my daughters that this marmalade is not for peanut butter sandwiches. I’m looking for a perfect scone recipe. I want to serve the marmalade with scones and tea. Thanks!

  28. 128

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

  29. 129
    Kimberly C says:

    I made a version of this, except as mostly blood oranges (w/ 1 lemon and 4 little satsuma oranges that I had laying around). I ended up using some RealFruit Classic Pectin, about 3 tablespoons, because I reduced the sugar a bit in my recipe and I wanted to make sure it got to 220 degrees. The marmalade passed the plate test before I poured it into the half-pint jars.

    It’s been 5 hours since I processed the jars in the water bath, and they’re mostly set. They have a firm surface, but if I tilt the jars to one side the contents move a bit. Will the marmalade firm up more? Is this firm enough, or should I consider popping them open and reboiling tomorrow?


    • 129.1
      marisa says:

      Chances are that it will firm up more. Preserves can take up to a couple weeks to fully set. Put one of the jars in the refrigerator and see if it achieves the firm consistency after 24 hours in the cooler temperature.

  30. 130
    Shanti Winter says:

    First marmalade I’ve made and it was fantastic! There was a similar recipe in “Clearly Delicious”, but I was drawn to the pretty pictures and helpful commentary on this blog recipe. Thank you for sharing!

  31. 131
    Kim says:

    Marisa, I just made this recipe and the jars are beautiful and the marmalade I tried was delicious! Thank you for this recipe! Whew, it was labor intensive, though.

  32. 132

    […] adapted from Apt. 2B Baking Co., which was adapted from Food in Jars […]

  33. 133
  34. 134
    Jodi says:

    When a friend taunted me with a Facebook photo of her in-laws’ fruit-packed pink grapefruit tree in the California dessert, I joked, “Send me some. I’ll make marmalade.” Two days later a box full of them showed up in my mailbox.

    Since I had this recipe in reserve, I tried it. Just finished, in fact. Lordy, I had forgotten what marmalade was supposed to taste like. Growing up in California, my grandmother and mom made it occasionally when they didn’t know what else to do with our backyard oranges. In later years I stooped to store-bought, which is generally artificial tasting, not to mention cloying. Definitely not the marmalade of my memories.

    Well, this IS. It’s the perfect blend of sweet, sour, and bitter. I vow to make it every winter. And, hopefully, once I send a couple of jars her way, my friend will keep the pinks coming north to Oregon.

  35. 135
    Silvia says:

    Followed to the “t” last night… Tastes marvelous, but did not congeal…. What can I do to make thicker???

  36. 136

    […] You can find the recipe I used at Food in Jars. […]

  37. 137
    Amber says:

    I have never canned anything before so was puzzled when I read about the “canning pot” and rack. Did a little research and am wondering if I could half the recipe, store in my fridge and forgo the boiling in jars on the rack? Your recipe sounds wonderful and I am dying to try it just not sure about all the equipment I’d need to buy.

  38. 138
    Steph says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe, and for the easy-to-follow instructions. My family and I made this today- it was our first try at home canning.
    Now we wait to see if it will set up, although it’s very tempting to start eating it now!

  39. 139
    Sam says:

    Thanks so much for the great step-by-step! I had never tried marmalade before, but figured I needed to because my boyfriend and his family have an affinity for citrus that I can’t quite grasp (I love it, don’t get me wrong, but they take this to a whole new level). I’ve given quarter pint samplers to a number of people and got so many compliments and requests I ended up making *four* batches of it this January!! Hopefully it will last a few months anyway.

  40. 140

    […] MARMALADE with generous guidance from Food in Jars Yield: about 7 half-pint jars 3 pounds navel oranges 2 large lemons 4-5 cups organic cane or white […]

  41. 141
    Emily says:

    Hello there,

    Thanks for posting this great recipe! I made it yesterday, but substituted blood oranges because I just couldn’t resist them in the grocery store (this was before I realized you have a recipe posted specifically for blood orange marmalade). I have a question for next time, about the amount of sugar– Since blood oranges taste sweeter than a mix of grapefruit, lemons, oranges, etc., is there a safe way to cut down on the amount of sugar used? While my resulting marmalade is very good, it is almost cloyingly sweet. This may be simply because there is no sour/tart citrus in the mix –I’m not sure, but I didn’t want to cut down the amount of sugar used willy-nilly, and risk the marmalade not preserving properly. Words of wisdom?

  42. 142

    […] liked this recipe shown on Food in Jars, one of my favorite food blogs. Check out the recipe for 3 Citrus Marmalade […]

  43. 143
    Leslie Ann says:

    If I ever have access to a time machine, I’m zooming back to claim that marmalade…lol. lovely addition to my Marm file. Yummy, Thanks…!

  44. 144

    […] flush with sweet, fruity jams and these herbal jellies…but out of marmalade. Food in Jars has a fabulous recipe, which earns her a shameless plug. Love her recipes. And like she says, you can’t feel like […]

  45. 145
    Chelsea says:

    Jelled perfectly! Delicious combination of tart, bitter, and sweet. I followed the instructions pretty much exactly only I don’t have a digital thermometer and even when my thermometer was reading 220 I was not getting the “wrinkles” with the plate test. I should have probably calibrated it before starting, I suspect it may be a bit off. I ended up with a big less yield then the recipe states, but all and all very happy. I was intimidated by all the complex recipes for marmalade out there but it was easy, although quite time consuming.

  46. 146

    […] revisited the Three-Citrus Marmalade recipe from Foodinjars that I used previously with awesome results. Then I […]

  47. 147
    Hannah says:

    I have never made any sort of marmalade or chutneys of any sort. I have just made your recipe, it set beautifully and the flavour is delicious. I don’t have a thermometer so boiled it until I could successfully do the ‘nudge’ test. I put absolutely all the remains of the pith, membrane etc into the cheesecloth, took it out just before the marmalade started boiling, let it cool and squeezed every last drop from it. Maybe this helped it set better?!
    I shall definitely explore some of your other recipes and I hope that I just haven’t had beginners luck :)

  48. 148
    Jenn says:

    Hi Marisa,
    I made this yesterday and it is way to sweet and bitter at the same time. Are the skins supposed to give it a bitter taste? Or was it the membrane? I used all the membrane and the seeds and there were a lot of them. My batch also set too much. It is really firm. I would like to try again next weekend but not sure what to tweak. Do you have any tips? Thank you.

    • 148.1
      Marisa says:

      Jenn, marmalade is supposed to have an element of bitterness. If it overset, try stopping the cooking a little sooner.

  49. 149
    Justin says:

    I love marmalade, I was curious, would it be possible to add fresh ginger into the recipe? I know the rule of thumb is follow the recipe exactly. I grew up eating British Lemon & Ginger and Ginger & Lime Marmalades (my grandparents were from Scotland) and the idea of adding a little ginger kick to the mix, I just don’t want to ruin the recipe balance for canning. Thanks in advance!

  50. 150
    Kendra Costin says:

    I just made a grapefruit and ginger marmalade. I didn’t use pectin. Is it necessary? If so why? I haven’t tried it yet but it looks like it set up.


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