flying dragon marmalade

Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon'

These are the fruits on Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’, otherwise known as hardy orange. I have written about this small tree many times. Last year one of you blogging buds suggested using the fruit to make marmalade. The thought had never occurred to me. I had always thought of them as purely ornamental, maybe even poisonous.


Well, once planted, it was a thought that grew on me. At the same time I was picking the last ripening tomato and the first ever huckleberries, I decided to give it a go.


A search for Weck jars took me to Sur La Table, where I found these little Italian jobs that appealed to me even more. They have a single, rather than two-part, lid, but otherwise are treated the same. I later found a full array of Weck jars and bottles at Schoolhouse Electric.


I’ve had these two charming books for a long time, so they’re probably out of print.


Sloe Gin and Beeswax is a feast for the eyes. Its recipes use metric measures, but it addresses all kinds of esoteric ingredients, like medlars.


Even it made no mention of Poncirus fruit, but I pieced together a recipe from several sources. Covering the fruit with water, I simmered them for about an hour. Once they had cooled, I halved them, scooped out the pulp and seeds into a small pan and cut the peel into strips. Add the juice and seeds (the seeds act like pectin) of one lemon to the small pan, some water to cover and simmer for fifteen minutes. Strain off the juice into a large pot, add the peel, 4 cups of water and 4 cups of sugar. Bring to a furious boil until it reaches 220 degrees F. I stirred in some toasted walnuts and whole coriander seeds. Process like you would any jam. The result is not to everyone’s taste (but then you could also say that of marmalade in general). I consider it something of a gourmet novelty and will gift it to only the very most special people.


Are you growing anything that presents a culinary challenge? If so, I would love to hear about it. And if it was you who suggested this adventure, I thank you.

21 thoughts on “flying dragon marmalade

  1. You do have some very interesting trees Ricki, I’ve seen this in a garden here but never for sale; I have the normal bitter orange but there are no fruit this year. I didn’t know you could make marmalade with the one you have; I will try harder to find one as it would survive outside in the ground whereas all my citrus have to go into the greenhouse during the winter.

  2. I like the bitter bite of traditional marmalade so I think I’d really like this preparation. Kudos to you for coming up with a good use for these fruit! There’s a lot of food people wouldn’t consider eating without a healthy dose of sugar (now that it’s Thanksgiving season, just think of cranberries), and maybe this works the same way. I have a lot of coffeeberries in the garden right now that are listed as edible but close to flavorless. That might be my next quickfire kitchen challenge…

    • James~I actually like cranberries best with just a touch of sugar, some horseradish and lemon. The usual very sweet preparations get passed right along to the next reveler. Nice to see you back here, James, as well as writing on your own blog. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. I made some of the poncirus marmalade 2 years ago. Good, not not as nice as that from Seville oranges. No fruit last year, but loads this year, so I’ll try again.

  4. Hi Ricki, I googled up your page as the hardy oranges tumbled down in a bumper crop. I wondered about the cloudy color of my juice-seed-water mash along the way but am thrilled with the end result. I wasn’t sure how many oranges you were working with – I only had two cups of peel and about 1.5 cups of juice so I cut the sugar and water in half at the end. Also included a few cardomom seeds for fun along with the coriander. This has the most amazing bitter orange flavor. I’m already considering cookies and cocktails for the holidays. Thanks for the post from a few years back!

  5. I started my trifoliate from seeds of a fruit that I picked from an old tree in the oldest part of Richmond, VA., Church Hill. It grows “furiously” in my Florida garden where most of my other citrus has succumbed to the citrus greening disease. I wonder if researchers who are looking for a cure for this infection have considered trifolate root stock. In the meantime I am making some marmalade from my tree. It is quite bitter.

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