Mastery Challenge: Meyer Lemon Grapefruit Marmalade

January 18, 2017(updated on August 30, 2021)

Hey folks! Let’s welcome Alex Jones to the blog. She’s a friend and fellow Philadelphian who is coming on board as a regular contributor to Food in Jars (you’ll see her posts a couple times a month). She’ll be participating in the Mastery Challenge and will be sharing preserving tips and recipes from her West Philly kitchen. She’s kicking things off with a batch of Meyer Lemon Grapefruit Marmalade! ~Marisa

four small open jars of meyer lemon grapefruit marmalade

Hello fellow canners! I’m Alex Jones, your new FIJ contributor. I write about and work with local foods, farmers, and makers in the Philadelphia area. Over the past several years, I’ve learned to preserve thanks in large part to Marisa’s blog, books, and classes, so it’s especially exciting to lend my voice to the blog.

For January’s Mastery Challenge, I knew I’d be incorporating some of my Lemon Ladies Meyer lemons, which have become a permanent line item on my Christmas wish list. After slicing and drying half my stash, turning some into thick, sliceable fruit cheese, and squeezing a few over seared day boat scallops, I had half a dozen lemons left to make into marmalade.

To fill out the recipe and add a rosy glow to the finished product, I grabbed an organic grapefruit that had been hanging out on my counter. In total, I had a little over two pounds of fruit, just enough to halve Marisa’s Three-Citrus Marmalade recipe and transform it into a batch of Meyer Lemon Grapefruit Marmalade.

I grabbed my peeler and my paring knife and got to work. The methodical process of zesting, trimming, supreme-ing, and chopping my lemons and grapefruit, as the canning pot warmed my kitchen and episodes of Scandal hummed in the background, was the perfect way to spend a cold January morning.

Ingredients in the pot for a batch of meyer lemon grapefruit marmalade

I followed Marisa’s recipe as closely as possible — something I admit I don’t always do when in the throes of bulk fruit season — and for the most part, my results corresponded closely with her version. The main difference was around what for me is the most challenging aspect of making fruit preserves like this: achieving set.

I shy away from jam recipes that include store-bought pectin, as I often end up with an unappetizing, too-firm preserve, rather than the desired substantial-yet-stirrable set. But this marmalade recipe makes use of discarded bits of citrus — the seeds and membranes from the sections — as a gentle thickener.

Bubbles on the surface of meyer lemon grapefruit marmalade as it cooks down

My Meyer lemon-grapefruit marmalade, cooked over medium-high gas heat in a 4-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven, took 45 minutes to get to 220 degrees, at which point I began testing the set. It took another 17 minutes and 5 degrees before the marmalade passed the plate test. Constant stirring and testing every 5 minutes helped me avoid scorching the marmalade, another potential pitfall.

Four open jars of meyer lemon grapefruit marmalade from the top

Before canning, I took care to remove the pot from the heat and stir for a full minute to keep the zest from floating at the top of the jar, a tip I somehow missed till now. It’s already paying off to revisit these techniques with intention!

After the processed jars had some time to cool off, I couldn’t resist popping open a quarter pint jar to check set and flavor. The texture was lovely — standing up on my knife but easy to spread — with tender bits of zest throughout. It tasted bright, sweet and sunny, with a hint of bitterness from the grapefruit to balance.

Finished jars of meyer lemon grapefruit marmalade

I might have to reconsider my usual policy of making fruit preserves for gifts only and allocate a jar or three of this Meyer Lemon Grapefruit Marmalade for my own use. That definitely makes the first month of the Mastery Challenge a success.

5 from 2 votes

Meyer Lemon Grapefruit Marmalade

Author: Alex Jones


  • 6 Meyer lemons about 2 pounds
  • 1 red grapefruit about 1/2 pound
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups zest poaching liquid


  • Prepare a large water bath canner and jar lids. Sanitize three clean half-pint jars by boiling the jars for 10 minutes in the canner. (I ended up with just enough marmalade to fill an additional quarter-pint jar as well.)
  • Wash and dry the fruit. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the fruit in long, thin strips. Chop zest into short, thin ribbons and add to a stainless steel or enameled cast iron pot with 3 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • While the zest simmers, prepare your fruit: Slice away the top and bottom of each piece so that you can stand the fruit up straight on your cutting board. Moving a sharp paring knife from top to bottom, trim away the white pith, turning the fruit as you go until all pith is removed. Then, supreme the fruit. Over a medium bowl, take each naked fruit in your hand and make gentle cuts on either side of the membrane separating the segments, allowing the segments and juice to fall into the bowl below. Pick out any seeds stuck in the fruit.
  • Once all sections have been removed, save the membranes and seeds from each piece of citrus and set aside. Tie the membranes and seeds into a secure bundle using cheesecloth.
  • Put a small ceramic or glass plate in your freezer. (You'll use this to check the set of your marmalade later.)
  • Drain the zest over a bowl to catch the poaching liquid. In the same pot you cooked the zest, combine drained zest, fruit segments, 2 cups of the zest poaching liquid, 3 cups sugar, and the bundle of membranes and seeds.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and let the mixture boil vigorously until it reaches 220 degrees (30-45 minutes).
  • When the mixture can sustain 220 degrees for one full minute, remove the cold plate from your freezer. Dab a bit of the marmalade in the center of the plate and allow it to sit for a few moments. Poke the marmalade with your finger; if the surface of the mixture wrinkles, you've achieved the proper set. If not, wipe and return the plate to the freezer, continue cooking the marmalade, and check again in five minutes, stirring frequently to keep the mixture from burning.
  • Once the marmalade passes the plate test, remove the pot from the heat. Stir the mixture gently for one minute. This will keep the solids from floating to the top of the jar.
  • Fill your jars, wipe rims, apply prepared lids, and screw on bands. Lower into prepared canner and process for five minutes at a gentle boil, counting from when the pot returns to a boil.
  • Remove jars to a folded dish towel on the counter and allow to cool completely. After cooling, check seals by pressing down on the top of the jar — no movement means you've got a good seal.

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23 thoughts on "Mastery Challenge: Meyer Lemon Grapefruit Marmalade"

  • I’m going to pass on this one.

    Meyer Lemons are out of season here and I already made some Meyer Lemon Lavender marmalade and still have five jars of it left. My Mom doesn’t care for it so I’ll have it for quite a while.

    I did some Key Lime Clove Hibiscus too so done with that.

    The Valencia tree is bare and my Mom uses the navels for breakfast juice so if I do January, I’ll have to buy oranges. Checking today.

    1. Hi Darla, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I made a batch of Marisa’s honey-sweetened Meyer lemon whole fruit jam ( and overcooked it! I kept waiting for the mixture to sheet off my spatula and I just let it go way too long. After processing, I could tell the set would be too firm.

      When I mentioned this to Marisa in passing, she said I should pass it off as fruit cheese — something I’d never actually heard of (and I work mostly in the artisan cheese industry). Fruit cheese is basically pate aux fruits shaped into a slab or stored in a jar. You can scoop or slice pieces of fruit cheese, or you can use cookie cutters or a knife to cut them into shapes for serving. The preserve still tastes great, it’s just much firmer than jam. I enjoyed some with a Pennsylvania cheese called Birchrun Blue earlier today!

      1. Ah great idea, I have a few batches like that normally I use them warmed and thinned with some sort of liquid. And use as a glaze for baked goods or part of the sweetened liquid that goes over Baklava right out of the oven. What I thin it with depends on what other flavor besides the jam or marmalade I am trying to incorporate into the finished delicious concoction.I am glad to have this idea to add to the mix. I think I would like to do this challenge but may not always be on time. Caring for elderly parents Jamming has not come to the forefront. But as Marissa’s recipes are small, but I admit to in the past increasing them when lots of fruit is available, this just might be the thing that gets me doing a little each month. This past summer I froze most of my berries from my garden so I was planning to make jam this winter.

  • Loved your article!! I don’t use pectin either – just haven’t gotten the knack. And I did learn all about ‘supreming’ – thank you!! Mine today was the 3 Citrus Marmalade… and have a Cranberry Clementine one in the pan right now.. (well…. because the hubs is sick of eating the ones I bought… and there were cranberries in the freezer from the holidays – seemed like a good project!) Two more on my agenda for Marmalade Month….

  • The color is so beautiful, adding the grapefruit was a great idea! This made me go and order some Meyer Lemons from the ladies, too, sorrynotsorry wallet…

    1. Anna — you won’t regret it! They are so delish. FIJ has a ton of other recipe posts on how to use them too!

  • Hi Alex and Marisa – Thanks for the tip on stirring the marmalade after you take it off the heat to keep the peel from floating – my finished marmalade not only tastes good, it looks good, too. I likewise don’t like/don’t use pectin – I almost always prefer a softer set in jams etc., so keep green apple peels in the freezer. I used the pith for the marmalade. I found some cheesecloth “soup socks” in a kitchen store (for fellow Philadelphians, either the kitchen store at Reading Terminal or Fantes) – just put the peels or pith in the sock and tie the top; then just toss the whole thing when finished.

  • Welcome, Alex!!!

    Sounds absolutely delicious!

    I thought about combining my grapefruit and my Meyer lemons but decided against it and made two separate marmalades…now I wish I’d combined at least a bit of it! Oh well 🙂 There’s always next time!

  • Alex,
    I just discovered Food in Jars and your recipe for meyer lemon-grapefruit marmalade. I can’t wait to try and make it this weekend. but first I am going to make 8 quarts of marinara! Thanks for sharing.

  • I made this marmalade yesterday and it turned out great! First marmalade I’ve ever made. I kept track of the temp and did the plate test – set came out perfect. Thank you!

  • Hi…Late to the challenge so catching up. I made the marmalade yesterday and it is beautiful and so delicious!
    I only had 1# of lemons and 1# grapefruit as opposed to the 2# of lemons and 1/2# grapefruit as called for so I halved the recipe. The resulting jam is very citrus peel heavy…very heavy. Can I go fix it with more sugar and water and boil it back down? I think a weight of citrus peel would be a super addition to the recipe.

    1. Hey Alexa,

      Interesting question! I’m not sure I would have halved the recipe with that quantity of fruit available — maybe that could be why the end product is heavy on the citrus peel?

      If I were you, I’d consider renaming your finished product “candied citrus peel” if you’re ok with the taste and texture — something to enjoy alongside cheeses, for example, rather than spread on toast. If not, you probably could reboil with water and sugar, but I wonder if using water instead of additional citrus poaching liquid would dilute the citrus flavor. Only one way to find out!

  • I just made a 1.5 batch of this over the weekend, with Meyer lemons from an FIJ giveaway that I won recently (yay!), and organic grapefruit from the grocery store. It turned out beautifully and yielded 2.5 pints. When I made it, the amount of zest simmering liquid ended up being exactly the amount needed for making the jam — so that was perfect.

    Also, I couldn’t remember if the pectin bag was to be removed before adding the sugar, so we ended up with some candy-like pieces of segments and pith when we took the pectin bag out — a little weird-looking, but really fun to snack on while waiting for the jars in the water bath to finish. Thanks for the ingredients and the great instructions!

  • 5 stars
    This recipe is a must-make for me. Last week I made Meyer Lemon marmalade and today I made Ruby grapefruit marmalade, with four grapefruits and three Eureka lemons. Adding a grapefruit to a batch of Meyers is genius!
    Can’t wait to try it.