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Zingy lemon and lime marmalade recipe for grownups

lemon and lime marmalade

Lemon and lime marmalade just waiting to be guzzled

This is a zingy marmalade that can be made at any time of year – a sweet gel with tangy strands of lemon and lime. Be warned it’s very moreish – whilst Danny was on a conference call this morning I slathered it on slice after slice of toast. A jar of this superb marmalade would be a perfect in a Christmas hamper or just produced with a flourish as a present for someone very special. A few jars kept at home on a larder shelf would give you a taste of summery freshness during those short dark winter days.

My mum used to mention the slog of making marmalade.
“All that chopping. The tough skins. On and on. And the mess. Drips of marmalade all over the kitchen, however much newspaper I put down!”
She was heroic and made a vast batch of Oxford style marmalade every year for the family. I never wanted to be a hero. Just dreamt of making a great marmalade without fuss.

So over the years, I’ve devised a simple system that makes making marmalade easy and straightforward. I always poach the fruit the night before I make the marmalade. This means that the next day you are half way through the process already. Best of all the softened skins of the citrus fruits are a doddle to cut. I also heat sterilise my jars by placing them on a large baking tray in the oven and keeping them on the tray when pouring the marmalade into the hot jars. Most marmalade drips are caught on the tray. If there’s a stretch between the jars and the preserving pan, I make a newspaper bridge to protect the gap. Simple.

Lemon and Lime marmalade is a favourite with so many people. I loved the famous Rose’s Lemon and Lime marmalade as a teenager and decided to make a marmalade that had a bit more bite and deeper ‘citrusy’ flavours. There is an option to add more sugar in my recipe, all you have to do is taste the mix, sugar bag in hand, before bringing the marmalade up to the boil. Incidentally I always buy my white granulated sugar in 5 kilo bags – Tesco stocks these – it works out much cheaper than buying 2 kilo bags and generally means that you have plenty of sugar to hand if you suddenly fancy making some preserves late at night when everyone is asleep. Yes this has happened to me several times since I caught the preserving bug.

I did quite a bit of research before attempting to make this lemon and lime marmalade. Obviously the lemons and limes have a decent amount of pectin but apparently the acidity of the limes can cause problem with getting a good set. That’s why bicarbonate of soda is included in many recipes and I’ve used it in my recipe too.

It’s also important to use thin skinned fruit. Sizes of lemon and limes can differ enourmously so it’s best to weigh the fruit. The limes have such hard skins that you have to be careful that they soften enough during the poaching process. I removed the lemons after 2.5 hours and the limes after 3.5 hours. To test, if squeezed gently between your fingers the skins should break. Remember if you are experimenting that the skins also harden a bit during the boiling process.

Tips and tricks:
Marmalade “set” or “setting point”:
Getting the right set can be tricky. I have tried using a jam thermometer but find it easier to use the following method. Before you start to make the marmalade, put a couple of plates in the fridge so that the warm marmalade can be drizzled onto a cold plate (when we make marmalade we often forget to return the plate to the fridge between tests, using two plates means that you have a spare cold plate). Return the plate to the fridge to cool for approx two minutes. It has set when you run your finger through it and leave a crinkly track mark. If after two minutes the cooled jam is too liquid, continue to boil the marmalade, testing it every few minutes until you have the right set. The marmalade is far more delicious if it is slightly runny.
Sterilising the jars:
We collect jars all year round for our jelly, chutney and jam making sessions. I try to soak off labels and store the clean jars and metal plastic coated screw-top lids in an accessible place. The sterilising method that we used is simple. Just before making the jam, I quickly wash and rinse the jars and place them upside down in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 160c/140c for fan assisted. When the oven has reached the right temperature I turn off the heat. The jars will stay warm for quite a while. I only use plastic lined lids for preserves as the all-metal lids can go rusty. I boil these for five minutes in water to sterilise them. If I use Le Parfait jars, I do the same with the rubber rings.


Zingy lemon and lime marmalade recipe for grownups
Recipe Type: Preserves – marmalade
  • 530g of limes (I had 8 limes)
  • 530g of small thin skinned lemons (I had 6)
  • 4 pints of water
  • 4.5 pounds of sugar (add another half pound at the tasting point, before boiling if you’d like a sweeter marmalade – it will set more quickly)
  • Half a flat teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  1. Scrub the limes and lemons to remove any wax. Put the fruit in a large heavy bottomed saucepan with a tight fitting lid and cover with the 4 pints of water. Put the lid on and bring to simmering point. Then turn the heat down very low and slip a piece of aluminium foil under the lid to ensure a good seal.
  2. Place the fruit in a large saucepan and cover with the water. Bring to simmering point and then simmer very gently for 2.5 hours – putting a sheet of foil beneath the lid for a good tight fit.
  3. Simmer very gently for 2.5 hours until the lemons are soft. Remove the lemons with a slotted spoon to a bowl.
  4. After 3.5 hours – or when the lime skins had softened (check quickly after every half and hour) – remove the saucepan from the heat. Pop the lemons and any juice from their bowl back into the saucepan and leave the fruit in the poaching liquid to cool overnight.
  5. The next day. Keep the poaching liquid! Halve the fruit and squeeze out any pips and flesh into a small saucepan. Leave the pith on the skins – this will add a citrus bite to your marmalade.
  6. Add 450ml of the poaching liquid to the pips and flesh in the saucepan and simmer this for 45 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile cut the skins into thin strands. I quarter each half and cut them in piles to make the process quicker.
  8. Line a sieve with a large square of sterilised muslin (a square from an old pillowcase or sheet would do well too. To sterilise muslin/cotton, iron with a hot iron), and place the sieve and muslin over a big bowl. Pour the liquid, flesh and pips from the saucepan to drain. When all the liquid has drained through, knot the muslin and pass two wooden spoons (juxtaposed) beneath the knots turn the spoons against each other which will squeeze out any remaining juice with very little effort.
  9. Add this sieved/squeezed juice to the saucepan of poaching liquid.
  10. Ideally you want the marmalade to be as clear as possible, so if the poaching liquid has a few little bits in it drain the liquid through the muslin. Also rinse the slices of lemon and limes under a cold tap.
  11. Add the rinsed slices of lime and lemon and the bicarbonate of soda to the poaching liquid and bring the liquid to up to gentle simmering point. Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved completely. It is important to make sure that this has happened as undissolved crystals can ruin the marmalade. Tip: Initially the undissolved sugar makes a scraping sound like sand on the bottom of the saucepan. When you think that it is dissolved there should be no crystals left on your wooden spoon when you’ve scraped the bottom of the pan.
  12. Taste the mixture – if it’s too tart for your taste add a little more sugar stirring again until it is completely dissolved. When you are certain that the sugar has dissoled, bring the marmalade to a rolling boil. Test for set after 15 minutes (test for a set? See Tips and Tricks below), continuing to test for set every ten minutes. I use a jam thermometer to monitor the setting point and find this is reached somewhere between 102c -103c.
  13. Just before the marmalade reaches setting point it moves from forming thousands if tiny bubbles to a much more gloopy boil. When the marmalade has reached setting point let it stand for 12 minutes to enable the slices of lemon and lime to sit evenly in the jars. Then stir well and using a ladle and a funnel pour into hot sterilised jars and seal immediately. If your peel wants to rise to the top of the jars keep on turning the jars every ten minutes or so and the peel will settle evenly distributed within the jar.
  14. Leave to stand overnight and label the next day.

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  1. Sharing my time and effort saving tips – I’ve fine tuned my marmalade making over about 40 years!

    I halve the raw fruits, and use an electric juicer gently to remove the pips. Discard the pips – increase the quantity of fruit to compensate for losing the pectin in the pips.

    The initial boiling/softening – I cook the now halved fruitand juice and water in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes on medium pressure. Allow to depressurise.

    Chop (sorry to those who like neat slices) the now soft halves in a food processor to desired size.

    Add sugar, bring to boil, boil till setting point. I have reduced water to the minimum, and increased fruit compared to most recipes – I boil vigorously for five minutes and it’s done. I don’t bother with testing, it always works.

  2. darwin

    thanks for this. you give some good tips. just wondering about your measurements, pints, grams and pounds?

    How about all metric versus part imperial? Most of the world use metric, no? Sticking to metric may make your tasty recipe more accessible.

  3. Maura McFall

    I make dozens and dozens of jars of marmalade every year including the lemon & lime version which is delicious. I totally agree about cooking the whole fruit first – I use this method for all marmalades, however I find an hour of simmering is generally all that is needed to soften the fruit and cannot imagine what it must be like to simmer for up to 3.5 hours. I also only use between 1 – 1.5 kilo of sugar to same amount of fruit. I’m not keen on very sickly sweet marmalade myself but as all my preserves are sold to fund raise for various charities I make it more for the demands of my regular customers and so far I’ve had really great feedback and they all sell out as soon as I’ve made them. Maybe our tastes are changing and people don’t want such sweet preserves now.

  4. I have made marmalade for years now. To save all that chopping or slicing I just put the fruit through a mincer. My husband kindly bought me an electric one ! It may not look so elegant as those dainty slices, but certainly tastes just as delicious !

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