Rangpur Lime Marmalade

by autumn on March 7, 2012

I am still thinking about this internet thing—how maybe instead of a tree fort where we go to be alone, it’s a tin can phone. We speak into it our secret little things, not sure if the person on the other end will actually hear us right. It’s feels nice that someone is there, but it’s also a little scary.

After your kind words about last week’s post, I am sitting with this internet optimism. The cute metaphors help. It seems I’m not the only one who feels like community and maybe even friends can be made here.

I don’t remember much of what I learned in college. I wasn’t wasted, just stressed and distracted. However, one thing that I haven’t quite been able to stop thinking about are commonplace books. Commonplace books are, as Atlantic writer Alan Jacobs calls them in this piece, “The Tumblrs of an Earlier Era.” They were essentially scrapbooks where folks copied quotations, letters, poems, recipes, and remedies: stuff they wanted to remember. Sound familiar?


Commonplace books were a big deal in early America and women especially passed them among themselves, each one adding what they found most valuable. In the end, there was a record and a resource. Isn’t that also what we’re trying to do here? I plan to think of this the next time information overload gets me down.

In that spirit, I am passing along this recipe Rangpur Lime Marmalade. I thought you might need it. Maybe you have a good tree or a good friend that gives you Rangpur Limes without you even having to ask.

Let me tell you, these little gems were made for marmalade. They’re thin-skinned, which is a good thing perhaps only in the case of marmalade. Flavor? They’re puckery with complexity. And so much pectin!

Rangpur Lime Marmalade

Adapted from Hitchhiking to Heaven and Cakewalk. Makes about one pint.

12 oz Rangpur Limes
12 oz sugar
2 1/4 cups water

1. Halve the limes and remove the seeds and pith according to these stellar instructions over at Hitchhiking to Heaven. At the end of the process, you’ll have a bowl with some seeds/juice (throw the pithy “cores” in there too) and a bunch of halved limes on your cutting board. Reserve the little bowl of scraps for later.

2. Slice all of the halved limes lengthwise into quarters, by cutting down the notch you made in the middle. Then begin to cut each quarter crosswise, as thin as you can manage.

3. Once sliced, place the segments in another bowl, catching any juice that collects on the cutting board and adding that to the bowl with the segments as you go.

4. When all the limes are sliced, go back to the little bowl of pith and seeds. Using a strainer covered with cheesecloth, strain the contents so that the juice goes into the bowl of fruit and everything else is captured in the cheesecloth.

5. Tie all these goodies up into the cheesecloth and make a nice, sealed bundle. Throw this in with the fruit.

6.  Over high heat, combine the cut fruit with the water and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for about 6 hours.

7. After 6 hours, remove the cheesecloth bundle and squeeze it in your fist to extract any extra liquid.

8. Add the sugar, return to heat, and cook at low heat until sugar dissolves. Then bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture has reached the gelling point, as determined by the freezer test.


  • With all that pectin, it took this way less time to gel than I expected. I made two batches and it took less than 10 minutes each time. I felt like I may have overshot it a little on the first batch and started checking the second batch much earlier.
  • It won’t ruin your marmalade if you let it set overnight before cooking it with the sugar, but the rinds in the final product will have less chew (and this lady likes chew).


Autumn Giles is the creator of Autumn Makes & Does and the co-host of the Alphabet Soup Podcast.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shae March 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm

There are so many things I love about this post. The limes, of course, and that you made such a petite batch of marmalade. Having just a little bit makes it special, don’t you think? More than anything, I appreciate your thoughts about the Internet, a topic that I endlessly wrestle in a mostly internal way. You know, the curator of my favorite Tumblr blog describes the magical place he’s created as a commonplace book. I wondered about the term but never pursued the definition. I’ve done this kind of commonplace collecting my whole life, so it’s interesting to learn that what has always seemed purely instinctual in fact has deep cultural roots. The Internet takes the behavior to an almost frantic extreme, but thinking about it in this framework makes it seem more natural — even if I still feel like I’ve fallen out of my tree house and could use more fort time. Thanks, Autumn.


2 autumn March 13, 2012 at 1:53 am

Shae, Thank you for introducing me to this tumblr. Commonplace books are something that I’m going to keep stewing over. You’re absolutely right about the pace of this collecting on the internet being too fast though. I worry sometimes that folks (myself included, if I’m in a particular mood) are too quick to villainize the internet/technology, so I think it’s helpful to see these connections.


3 Kathleen March 8, 2012 at 1:27 am

I have never heard the term commonplace book, but my mother, who passed away 8 years ago left me with scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings that she enjoyed and other tidbits. I never thought of them as being a record of where she had been. Somehow I just don’t think that way, but I love the idea and will have more appreciation for them now. What a wonderful, sweet thing you have given me to think about. Thank you.


4 autumn March 13, 2012 at 1:55 am

Kathleen, You’ve totally warmed my heart. Thanks so much for stopping by!


5 Julia March 8, 2012 at 1:57 am

I’d like to pipe in and say, yes, I love this little recipe. When I saw 12 ounces, I thought: why, yes, I could do that! Nice work!


6 rcakewalk March 8, 2012 at 11:23 am

I’ve yet to taste a Rangpur lime, but this looks really beautiful, I’ve seen so many nice recipes using them this year that maybe next year I’ll seek them out! I love the old-fashioned notion of commonplace books as applied to the Internet, too. I always feel like I know immediately when someone is about my age when this type of sentiment is expressed, like maybe we were the last generation to grow up almost entirely without electronic communication? I agree that true friendships have been forged online too- something I’d never have thought possible!


7 Yvonne March 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm

This sounds delicious – thanks for sharing. Agree with you, the internet is certainly a great way to connect with like-minded people and share ideas. In reality, we are not so very different to the pen-pals of yesteryear, who forged great friendships and even romance through the written word, only now we don’t have to wait endlessly at the window for the man with the Post Office (or Pony Express) bag!


8 autumn March 13, 2012 at 2:03 am

Julia, You can SO do this 🙂

Rebecca & Yvonne, Thank you both! Rebecca, good point about the generational aspect too. That hadn’t occurred to me before, but I think you’re on to something.


9 Fabiola August 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I live in Northern California Concord to be exact. I haven’t been able to fin rangpur limes 🙁 can you help me?


10 autumn August 21, 2012 at 11:41 am

Hi Fabiola, I’m afraid that I can’t be of much help since I’m over here on the east coast. I can tell you that like other citrus, rangpur limes are in season in the winter. So I’d check farmer’s markets and specialty markets in your area in December or January.


11 SuzMc September 20, 2012 at 5:59 am

Hi, Autumn and Fabiola. Here in Northern California (Santa Cruz), my friend’s Rangpur limes are ripe now and will apparently continue on for weeks. I have a bunch, which is how I got here! I haven’t seen them at the Farmer’s markets, but then haven’t been looking either. So delighted to find your blog, Autumn. I’ll get back to you with my marmalade results.
P.S. I love the idea of the blog spots as commonplace books. Thanks.


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