canning lemon marmaladeI’ve had the privilege of helping my former employer this past week…not with anything work-related but with canning! The past two weeks have been spent canning lemon marmalade using lemons from her Meyer’s Lemon tree.

I’ve been canning since 2007 and doing what we can from a homestead, self-sufficient perspective for many years. While working for my employer, she purchased two Meyer’s Lemon trees. When she first started getting lemons from her trees, I canned them for her in Lemon Drop Marmalade. This is the first time I’ve been asked to can them again so I thought I would post the recipe and instructions this time.

Since lemons are so acidic, you don’t need to add anything extra to the recipe other than three simple ingredients: lemons, sugar, and water. That’s it. Three simple ingredients gains you seven half-pint jars of pure lemony goodness.

So without further ado, here’s the recipe for Canning Lemon Marmalade.

  • 6 cups water
  • 6 cups lemons
  • 6 cups sugar

This is a 1:1:1 relational recipe. If you only have four cups of lemons, then use four cups water and four cups sugar. Or, you can make a smaller batch of two cups lemons, water, and sugar. Pretty easy to remember.

Wash and scrub the lemon skins until they are clean. Discard any damaged skins or moldy fruit. Use only the best parts of the lemon.

Quarter the lemon and remove any extra pith that is in the middle of the lemon, along with the seeds. SAVE ALL OF THIS IN A SEPARATE BOWL!

Dice the remaining parts of the lemons, including the peel and measure them. I tend to slice a few lemons at a time and put them in a measuring cup and when I reach one cup, I pour that cup into a large pot (which is what I’ll use to cook the lemons). I dice, measure, and pour until all the lemons have been diced. This is how I determine how much water and sugar I’ll need.

Before we go any further, place a small plate in the freezer. We’ll pull it out in just a bit.

Add equal amounts of water to the pan with the lemons and turn to medium high on the stove. Wrap the remaining seeds and pith in cheesecloth and secure it with a knot. Add it to the lemons and water. The pith and seeds contain natural pectin which will help the marmalade set. Bring the mixture to a boil and turn the heat to medium and let it simmer until the lemon peels are soft. You can tell they are soft when you can slice them with a spoon.

canning lemon marmalade

Once the peels are soft, remove the bag of pith and seeds and place in a bowl to cool off. Add the sugar to the simmering pot, return the heat to medium high and let the mixture return to a boil.

Check the cheesecloth bag. If it’s cool enough, hold it over the pot of lemons and squeeze it to remove any excess liquid and pectin.

Once the entire pot is boiling again, turn the heat to medium and let it simmer. Stir often to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. If you have a candy thermometer, set it up on the side of the pot with the tip in the hot mixture, but NOT touching the bottom. When the temperature reaches about 217 degrees, start checking to see if the mixture is reaching the gel point.

Remember that cold plate in the freezer? Pull it out. To test the gelling point, drop a bit of marmalade mixture onto the plate. If it spreads out, it’s too thin and not ready. If it sits there and wrinkles as you push it forward with your fingernail, then it’s ready. You can also tell if the mixture is ready if the bubbles get tiny and fast, the marmalade is a bit thicker, and it’s foamy. Or, when the thermometer temperature reaches 218 degrees to 220 degrees.

To can it, while the lemons are cooking the first time, prepare your jars, lids, and the canner. When the marmalade is ready, fill the jars to 1/4 inch of the top, wipe the rims, fasten the lids, and place in the water bath canner for 10 minutes. Pull out and let cool on a towel for 24 hours.