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Cooking with David


Copyright © 2010, 2014, 2019, 2021-2022 by David E. Ross

I have a dwarf lemon tree in my back yard. Although it stands less than 5 feet tall, it produces more lemons than we can use. Here are recipes for Lemon Marmalade and Lemonade.

Lemon Marmalade

This recipe is adapted from a recipe by the late Alan J. Flavell for orange marmalade using bitter Seville oranges. Flavell is deceased and his Web site is now defunct.

This recipe uses all parts of the lemon, divided into three groups:

It takes time to make marmalade. The results will not be satisfactory if steps are cut short.


enough lemons to produce 1 cup of juice
4 cups (1 qt) water
2½ cups sugar

Tools and Equipment

electric juicer
sharp vegetable knife
boilable fine-mesh bag
non-metallic, non-glazed food-safe container (at least 1½ qt)
large pot (at least 3 qt)
large spoon
small plate
small bowl

Wash the lemons thoroughly with soap and water. Rinse thoroughly. They do not have to be dried.

One at a time, cut each lemon lengthwise into quarters. (If a lemon is especially large, cut it into sixths.) Pull the "meat" from the peel. Place the meat into the juicer and the peel into the small bowl. If any seeds come loose while cutting a lemon or removing the peel, place them on the small plate. As the juicer becomes full, run it to extract the juice. Keep cutting, peeling, and juicing until you have a full measuring cup of juice.

Pour the juice into the food-safe container.

If there is a green area on a peel (e.g., where the stem was attached), cut it away and place on the small plate with the loose seeds. Slice the remaining peel into thin strips; then cut the strips into 1/4- to 1/2-inch lengths. Do not cut the white inner rind away from the yellow outer peel. Put the result into the food-safe container.

Put the contents of the small plate — loose seeds and green peel — into the boilable bag. Recover as much of the pulp and seeds as possible from the juicer (matter you would normally discard) and put it into the boilable bag. Tie the bag closed and place it in the food-safe container.

Add the water to the food-safe container but not more than to within 1 inch of the top. (Note how much was added; the rest of the quart will be added later.) Cover the food-safe container and let it stand — unrefrigerated — 24 hours.

24 hours later …

Pour the lemon mixture into the large pot, including the boilable bag. Add the rest of the water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the flame for a slow bubbling simmer. When a piece of peel is tender — about 45 minutes — the simmering is done. Remove the boilable bag to a bowl.

Add the sugar and stir. Raise the flame to bring the mix to a rolling boil, which should NOT require the highest flame. Watch the pot. With the sugar and pectin from the lemon pulp, it can boil over.

While the pot is coming to a boil, squeeze liquid from the boilable bag and return the liquid to the pot. Occasionally stir and scrape the sides of the pot back into the boiling mixture.

Keep the pot boiling for about 20 minutes. Then test the marmalade by spooning a small amount onto a clean, dry, cool plate. If a film or skin forms after a few minutes, the marmalade is done. In the meantime, spoon away any white foam or scum that forms.

Allow the marmalade to cool in the pot. Then transfer to one or more containers and store in the refrigerator.

This recipe makes 3 cups of marmalade.

I developed an easy technique for peeling lemons. (I am right-handed. If you are left-handed, reverse right and left in the following.)

If you don't have a juicer, put the "meat" into a blender or food processor. When completely liquefied, strain and measure the juice; but save the pulp and seeds. Flavell recommended a hand juicer, which is suitable for round oranges but not really for long lemons.

Because it was handy, part of the sugar I used was raw (blond) sugar. This made the marmalade somewhat darker than normal. Since I have type 2 diabetes, I use 2 cups of sugar instead of the 2½ cups specified in the recipe. This makes a more tart marmalade. Because of the reduced sugar, I extended the first phase of cooking by 5 minutes; but I was concerned that extending the second phase would result in scorching.

For a boilable mesh bag, Flavell suggested a nylon bag used for home-made beer. I used a "turkey stuffing bag", which I bought at an up-scale housewares store. Cheesecloth has a mesh that is too coarse and loose.

Lemon juice is quite acidic. It will leach traces of metal from the glaze of a ceramic bowl and from a metal container. It will also leach compounds from some plastics. I used a Pyrex bowl for the 24-hour soaking. Corningware or an enameled pot are also suitable. A large enough enameled pot could be used for both the soaking and cooking.

The pot should be large enough that the lemon mixture with all water only fills it half way. That will constrain boiling over and also prevent spatters.

The marmalade jells because of pectin in the peel, pulp, and seeds. Thus, it is important to recover as much pulp and seeds as possible from juicing the lemons.

I stored the marmalade in the refrigerator in plain plastic food containers. If you increase the amounts in this recipe or if you want to give the marmalade as gifts, you must then use sterile canning jars; carefully pour the hot marmalade (possibly still bubbling) into the jars; and cap them immediately. Please be very careful. The hot marmalade can give a very nasty burn.

I tried adding some kumquats to the mix. At first, I thought I would slice them cross-wise into thin discs. However, they are too soft; so I sliced them length-wise, in quarters for the larger kumquats and in half for the smaller ones. I added the entire sliced kumquat — peal and "meat" — to the marmalade mix after picking out the seeds with the point of the knife. This was quite tedious and messy, and I do not know if I want to try this again. The kumquats did add some color to the marmalade, but I could not taste any difference. However, the consistency was better (thicker) than my prior batch without the kumquats; I do not know if this was from the longer first phase of cooking or from the added citrus.


2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup lemon juice
3-3/4 cups water

Put the sugar and ½ cup of water in a small pot. Bring to a boil and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Allow the resulting syrup to cool.

Pour the remaining 3¼ cups of water and the lemon juice into a pitcher. Add the syrup. Chill.

This recipe makes about a quart of lemonade.

I speeded the cooling of the syrup. I half-filled a 1-cup measure with ice and then added water to the 1-cup mark. I poured this into the pot of syrup. This was not enough chilling to cause the sugar to recrystalize. I then added the remaining 2¼ cups of water to the pitcher. Other than this chilling step do not add ice, which will dilute the lemonade and make it insipid. (Note: As the ice melts, it neither increases nor decreases the total amount of water, providing that the amount is small enough that all ice floats in the measuring cup when the water is added to the 1-cup mark.)

The original recipe called for more sugar and slightly less lemon juice. I happen to like the flavor of lemon and did not want my lemonade to be so sweet.

Updated 30 January 2022

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