Italian

Two-Ingredient Marmalade to Slather on Cakes & Stir Into Tea

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January 17, 2017

Making marmalade doesn't need to be complicated or fiddly. Actually, you really only need only two ingredients.

If you're a marmalade skeptic, start with this marmellata di limoni, which is extraordinarily simple and low maintenance. You just need a few hours up your sleeve, some good music (or good company), and a watchful eye while you let the lemons boil away, perfuming your entire house like the best aromatherapy you've ever experienced.

In Italy, making jam (marmellata or confettura) is traditionally found all over the peninsula, just as you’d expect from a cuisine that still relies heavily on the seasons to dictate what’s on the table (and preserve it for later on in the year). It’s usually eaten for breakfast or turned into tarts known as crostata.

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Top Comment:
“I can't wait to try lemon marmalade. It'll be perfect to give away at Christmas. The first time I made marmalade was in pre-Cuisinart days. I got grapefruit, lemons and oranges on sale, and I had a lot! Painstakingly slivered the rinds and cooked a huge batch of combined-peel marmalade. When I tasted it, it was awful! But I'd worked SO hard. So I put it up and waited several weeks before trying it. Surprise! It had mellowed! It was both pretty to look at and exotically delicious. That was in about 1978 and I haven't made any since. I guess it's time!”
— Alison
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Lemon marmalade is made most notably where you find profuse amounts of lemons. There's Campania’s Amalfi coast, where the lemons grow larger and sweeter than anywhere else. And, of course, Sicily, where lemons have been growing since the Middle Ages, one of the many exotic and beautiful things brought to the region when it was an Arabic island.

While the classic English-style citrus marmalade results in a crystal clear jam punctuated with finely sliced citrus peel, Sicilian recipes for marmalade are a thick purée of blended fruit. The recipe requires first boiling the lemons whole (oh, the perfume of citrus!) rather than chopping peel, sieving out the pith, or any of that. You only need to scoop out the pulp to remove the seeds and then pulse everything in a food processor, blender, or—the more traditional way—pass it through a passatutto or food mill (and in this case, you don't need to scoop out the pulp to remove the seeds, as the food mill will be filter them out).

Two ingredients, lemony jam forever (kind of). Photo by Emiko Davies

The result is a perfectly smooth, perfumed, bittersweet jewel-toned jam. Spoon it onto buttered toast, drizzle it over some yogurt, or try a spoonful in a mug of black tea to sweeten it. This would also be lovely to cook desserts with, not only in a crostata, but also brushed over a plain sponge cake (this one is my favorite—it's fluffy and light and happens to be gluten-free. Or for a triple-threat lemon layer cake, try it in in this recipe, swapping it in for the raspberry jam.

Do you make marmalade? Tell us about it in the comments.

Emiko, a.k.a. Emiko Davies, is a food writer and cookbook author living in Tuscany, where she writes about (and eats!) regional Italian foods. You can read more of her writing on her blog.

4 Comments

Alison May 21, 2017
I can't wait to try lemon marmalade. It'll be perfect to give away at Christmas. The first time I made marmalade was in pre-Cuisinart days. I got grapefruit, lemons and oranges on sale, and I had a lot! Painstakingly slivered the rinds and cooked a huge batch of combined-peel marmalade. When I tasted it, it was awful! But I'd worked SO hard. So I put it up and waited several weeks before trying it. Surprise! It had mellowed! It was both pretty to look at and exotically delicious. That was in about 1978 and I haven't made any since. I guess it's time!
 
Panfusine January 18, 2017
Brilliant brilliant recipe, just finished making a batch.
 
Beth100 January 17, 2017
Could you reduce the sugar? If so, by how much? Thank you!
 
Author Comment
Emiko January 18, 2017
I have already written the details about this (as I knew people would ask!) in the notes of the recipe itself.