Fingers in the marmalade

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As many Italian households (Italy’s population is whithin the world’s most long-lived), our table is often blessed by two Italian grand-mothers. Actually one and a half as my own mother, now 78, considers herself kitchen-wise retired and contributes with robust, dog-eared recipe books. Even so, Simona’s mother more than makes up for momma’s retirement.

a cluster of cherriesLast week it was suddenly marmalade time. It had all started during the weekend, where we had enjoyed cherry trees overloaded with ripe, succulent cherries. Despite cherrying ourselves to a stupor, even more fruit were still hanging from the tree; so it seemed only natural to pick as many as we could reach and make marmalade. Or, to be precise, have granma “voluntarily” make it.

Grandma Raffaella (Lella) is always enthusiastically in favor of any cooking activity, so what problem could a 15kg of cherries be?

And, as expected, on Tuesday morning an entire shelf in the cellar was chock-full of jars filled with delicious, almost translucent, ruby cherry marmalade.

Of course we already tasted it for breakfast. It’s absolutely delicious.

So, to honour this indefatigable old-schooler, here is  her recipe.

Granny Raffaella’s Cherry Marmalade

(from an original recipe by Stella&Rina Terenzi, the archpriest’ sisters)

Apron-to-table time: 1 day (it’s old school; they weren’t so fussy about time, back in the day)


  • 1kg of pitted cherries (or multiples)
  • 700g white sugar (or multiples)
  • that’s it.

pot of pitted cherries and sugarWash the cherries, let them dry them on a clean cloth, the pit them (it takes forever but you are allowed to, uhm, sample every now and then).

Obtain 1kg of pitted cherries, put them in a large pot. Make sure the pot is steel, not aluminum.

Add 700g of white sugar, stir vigorously for a few minutes; there should be no white lumps of sugar left on the bottom.

Put a lid on the pot and allow to rest for a whole night.

In the morning, put on the stove and simmer for three hours. DO NOT STIR. NEVER.

After three hours, put a spoon in the mixture and take it out. The mixture should stick to the spoon like honey. Marmalade is ready.

Using vacuum jars

It is always best to put home-made preserves in vacuum jars.

Put the marmalade in clean vacuum jars, close with new lids (do not reuse last year’s).

Put the jars in a pot, stick a cloth between them so they won’t go clink-clank all the time.

Cover with 5cm (2in) of water and boil for 20 minutes. All lids should fold towards the inside of the jar (they should get concave, that is).

Allow the water to cool completely before removing the jars.

Make sure no lid goes “click” when pressed. If it does, it means the vacuum process has not worked fr that jar. That jar will not last, so eat it immediately.

Dry the jars, label them, store them dark and cool.

Marmalade should last 12 months, but we always manage to run out of it before that time.


  1. Che bello post e bella ricetta! I’ll have to come back to this in the summer when the cherries are ripe. I like the idea of letting the cherry-sugar sit overnight and the NOT stirring feature too.
    I want to know more about the “lemon blossoms” in the name of your blog and why you call such interesting people “lemon people.” I’m in love with lemons and recently published a book, “Lemon: A Global History” which has a lot about i limoni in Italia!
    Toby Sonneman

    • Dear Toby,

      awesome blog!

      Great the idea of a lemon-centred blog.

      I myself am fond of lemons. As far the name of my blog is concerned, it draws inspiration from Goethe’s lines: “Knowest thou the land where lemons blossom”. If you have a look at my home page, you’ll find my own philosophy: basically to let people know the ‘real’ Italy, seen with the eyes of an Italian and as seen from the heart.

      My holiday in Tuscany, at Badia Coltibuono, a few years ago inspired my blog (if you have time you could go to visit this page: and this one where the great Elisabeth Schwarzkopf sings “Knowest thou the land where lemons boom” – “Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühen” by Hugo Wolf).

      Thank you for your comment. I will soon publish a recipe of “lemon crostata” (a typical local pie with lemon cream). But I have to ask my mother her recipe first…
      Congratulations on your book. It does sound so interesting.

      I will follow your blog. Definitely.


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