Vintage 3 Citrus Marmalade

On the heels of the beautiful Floridian citrus I received a few weeks ago, I just received an abundant box of mixed citrus from the trees of wintering relatives in Arizona.  They felt the cold was harsh this year, the oranges not as good as usual however I found in opening the box, sheer beauty in the form and colors, and delight at the prospect of what I’d do with it all.  The finite quantity of such seasonal treasures lends itself to appreciation for the end product all year long.
Before the holidays I shared I have my grandmother’s recipe box.  It’s filled with hand written and typewriter typed recipes with fabulous names like Good Cookies’ or Hor D’Oeurve‘ (you can click those titles for some entertainment).  One caught my eye a bit ago which was a three citrus marmalade.  It’s in my great grandmother’s handwriting though attributed to someone names ‘Mrs. Dillon’.  I’d date it back to the first half of last century.  I do make jam, though most always with organic pectin that allows use of honey instead of sugar, but was quite taken with this recipe.  Some aspects were not something I was able to do so my end recipe is a modification but one that stays true to Mrs. Dillon’s intent I believe.  
The way I modified the recipe the marmalade contains small bits of fruit and peel versus long pieces of the peel.  I reduced the amount of sugar and the quantity of the oranges and lemons.  Though this recipe is not difficult, it’s lengthy due to the soaking time, causing it to span over a few days.  It’s a great weekend recipe with the last stage timing out when you have some time by the stove to allow it to boil down.
Vintage 3 Citrus Marmalade
This is a sizeable batch of marmalade.  Unless you plan to can it, give it to lots of friends or eat it for every meal you might consider cutting it in half or a fourth.  I did process mine in a water canner though I think you could just refrigerate it if you plan to eat it straight away (another reason you might not want a mega batch).
Yield:  4-12 oz jelly jars, 8-8 oz jelly jars
·         2 grapefruit
·         10 small to medium sized oranges
·         3 lemons
·         4 pounds granulated sugar (I use organic)
·         Jars and lids
·         Water
·         Candy thermometer
1.       Wash each fruit as the peel is included in the recipe.  Cut each citrus fruit into quarters and place in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until the fruit is in small pieces.
2.      Measure and place fruit into a large, non-reactive pot with lid.  Cover with 3 times the volume in water (e.g. I had 7 pints of pulverized fruit/juice and added 21 pints of water to the pot).  Cover and let sit overnight (or for 12 hours).  I did not refrigerate mine.
3.      The following morning bring the mixture to a boil, boil hard for 30 minutes.  Stir periodically to prohibit any burning of the pulpy fruit.  Turn off heat, cover and allow to sit 24 hours.
4.      After the 24 hour rest period, bring the mixture to a boil again, this time with the purpose of reducing the volume.  It will need to boil for a few hours.  The vintage recipe I have had 2 hours in my great grandmother’s writing which is written over to be 4 hours in my grandmother’s writing.  I boiled mine until is definitely had reduced by about a 1/3 and seemed much more dense.  You’ll note at first it looks like yellow corn soup but deepens in amber color as the process continues.
5.      When the mixture has consolidated and does not seem as watery, the sugar will be added.  I added 4 pounds of sugar to my mixture.  This is less than the prescribed 1 pound per pint in the vintage recipe but enough to take the edge off the tartness of the citrus peel.   Sugar is what sets the end consistency as well so I realized the recipe needs a fairly high base level of sugar to set in the absence of adding pectin.
6.      Bring the mixture to a boil and boil until it reaches 220 degrees, (gel or soft ball stage), on a candy thermometer.  NOTE:  I boiled mine for 1-2 hours and it would not reach 220 degrees  (only a bit over 200) and I’m unsure if that has to do with the water remaining in the fruit mixture, the altitude (I’m at 5,500 feet) or the amount of sugar.  I did note a thickening over time as well as a significant deepening of color. When it was at a gel stage I proceeded to can it regardless of it not officially hitting 220 degrees.
7.      If you are refrigerating, spoon the marmalade into the jars and allow them to cool fully before putting them in the refrigerator.   If canning, process in a water bath for 10 minutes (I did for 15 minutes due to the altitude).
My personal recipe ‘math’: I started with 7 pints of fruit/juice.  I added 21 pints of water to soak.  By the end of the first boil down I ended with 19 pints total fruit/water.  I added the 4 pounds of sugar.  I ended with approximately 7 pints of marmalade.
The marmalade is delicious and the perfect blend of sweet and tangy in my opinion.  It is not a hard gel either but more spreadable.  It is definitely a celebration of the handpicked citrus I’ll enjoy all year!


  1. Nancy and Vijay says

    I love the spoon also Laura. It's so fun to go through grandma's recipes. This looks amazing and love the addition of favorite citrus :)

  2. Dianna says

    A couple of questions….I don't eat grapefruit so can I omit and just use lemons and oranges? If so, what alterations would I need to make for the recipe? Also, do you seed the lemons before pulsing them in food processor? I've read that they create the pectin but I can't imagine eating the pulsed seeds…lol! Thanks for posting this recipe! I plan to can my marmalade so I will have some decent stuff for the year.

    • says

      Hi Dianna. I have only made the recipe this way but if you cannot eat grapefruit I'd suggest making up a batch using more oranges and lemons in the place of the grapefruit. My suggestion would be for the 2 grapefuit maybe substitute 2-3 oranges and a lemon. I think the grapefruit adds a particular flavor and you would not want the marmalade to be taken over by the lemon. I would proceed with the recipe as written. Again this is the experiment I'd do if in your shoes but cannot guarantee the result. You might want to downsize the recipe for the experiment.

      I do not recall seeding the citrus and would have noted that step. I think you certainly can do that. Also I have not run into seeds in my marmalade eaten thus far. Maybe our citrus did not have many! Good luck!

    • Dianna says

      I should have read the copy of your grandma's recipe…it says to put aside the seeds in water, let stand for 24 hrs (like you are doing for the fruit mixture) and then drain and use that seed water in the recipe. I guess that way you get the pectin from the seeds but can eliminate them from the mixture once their job is done.

      In other recipes I've seen, most folks try their best to eliminate the pith because they say it makes the marmalade bitter. Have you noticed any bitterness in this recipe? I REALLY like the idea of chunking up the fruit and then processing it so you don't have big slices or chunks in the marmalade. I've never made marmalade (much less jam or jelly) but I was so totally disappointed in the store bought orange marmalade that I am making the plunge this year and making some of my own while the oranges are yummy.

      Your pics are scrumptious-looking and I can't wait to try your recipe…I've got everything I need in the kitchen just calling out my name…lol!!! Thanks for posting this recipe! I'll let you know how it turns out without the grapefruit.

    • says

      Shame on ME Dianna for not rereading her recipe in more depth! I scanned it, running out the door and not remembering any seeds IN the marmalade but also not remembering doing anything with them! The only bitterniess I noted was in a marmalade-kinda way; nothing unusual. I think a bit of a bite is good. Everyone who has had any of the batch I made has loved it. Please do let me know how yours turns out. I love adapting recipes for one's own use!

    • Dianna says

      It's me again!! I'm on day 2 of this marmalade. Is it absolutely necessary to wait 24 hours for the second boil? I'm not sure why it needs to sit for 12 hours one day and then another 24 after the first boil. Is it because the long inactive time renders more flavor? I'm so impatient to see how it turns out…lol!! I think I should have made half of the recipe, though…I had two big pots last night. I did put one pot in the fridge and one outside because I was afraid that room temperature might cause it to sour.

      It sure seems like an awful lot of water to add but I guess that's why there is a long cooking time after the 24 hour resting period. For the final cook time, do you have to stir it constantly or is it occasional stirring? I may need to bring a stool to the kitchen…lol!

      Thanks for all of your support! I guess you can tell I'm a first timer in making anything outside of canned tomatoes!

    • says

      Some things really should not be rushed Dianna! I too am not the most patient but followed the original recipe to the letter feeling it had two generations of jammers who did not alter the timing and therefore there must be a method to the madness. I believe the 'waiting period' really allows the flavor to fully develop. It does make a large recipe hence my suggestion of making it smaller in the recipe notes unless planning to give some away. I did not refridgerate mine during the rest period and had no problem. I think it's also fine you did.

      Yes the last cooking period is to cook down the marmalade to it's final consistency. This also really makes the flavor more dense. You can just stir it periodically and be sure it is not too hot or it will burn. You can maintain it at a boil without being on the hottest temperature.

      Just as a reminder this marmalade thickens but the end consistency is not a full gel as with some marmalades. It thickens but had a bit more liquid consistency as noted in the last part of the post.

      Good luck! I'm sure it will be great!


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