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What Is Marmalade?
Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits cooked with sugar and water. What makes marmalade unique among preserves is the use of the rind—look for pieces of fruit suspended in the preserve. Seville oranges are famously used for English marmalades because of the distinctive bitter note in the peels in contrast to the sweet orange juice.
What do you need to make marmalade?
- Citrus fruit: Even though orange marmalade is the most common type, you can also try using other citrus fruits. Blending varieties can be great for if you like your marmalade less bitter. Try using blood oranges, lemons, limes, or grapefruit. Citrus fruits are high in natural pectin content, making it easy to thicken. (Learn about pectin here.)
- Sugar: Besides sweetening preserves, sugar works with the pectin and fruit acids to create the gel texture that indicates a proper preserve. When using a recipe with less sugar, you may need to add a commercial pectin to ensure thickening.
- A candy thermometer. Although optional, if it’s your first time making marmalade, using a candy thermometer will take the guessing game out of when it’s ready. Once it reaches a setting point of 220°F, you’re marmalade is ready.
4 Tips for making marmalade
- Experiment with texture. One of the best parts of making marmalade is the variations in texture. You’ll find you can achieve this through cutting the peel into bigger chunks or into uniform, delicate strips. Or try a mix of both.
- Stir constantly. Marmalade has a longer cooking time than other preserves, making it easy to get scorched on the bottom. Make sure to stir constantly once the mixture thickens and is simmering with large bubbles.
- The wrinkle test. The setting point for jam is 220°F. Test this with a candy thermometer or try the “wrinkle test.” Before cooking the jam, place a plate in the freezer. Once you think your jam is ready, spoon a little onto the plate. If the surface of the jam wrinkles when you nudge it with your finger, it’s done. Your end result is a nicely thickened preserve.
- Prepare the peels. The peels of citrus and pith are bitter, one way to prepare them is to soak in water overnight. The other is the whole fruit method, which is to simmer the whole fruit in a water bath for about 1-2 hours, until the peels are softened. If you like your marmalade without any bitterness, you can use a vegetable peeler to remove the peels and skip using the pith all together.
3 Variations on Marmalade
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When we think of marmalade we immediately think of oranges, but marmalade can be made from other fruits as well. You can try grapefruit, kumquats, lemons, limes, quince (Portuguese style), and even ginger.
- To make Meyer lemon marmalade, use 1 ½ pounds Meyer lemons, 4 cups of water, and 4 cups of sugar. Soak the thinly sliced peels and fruit along with the water for 8 hours, overnight. Place in a pot, bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened about 45 minutes. Add sugar, bring to a boil over moderate heat for another 15 minutes, until it reaches the setting point (220°F), and the peels are translucent. Meyer lemons are ideal to use for marmalade because the peels are less bitter than regular lemons.
- To make lime marmalade, use 11/2 pounds fresh limes, 4 cups of water, and 4 cups of sugar. Soak the thinly sliced peels and fruit along with the water for 8 hours, overnight. Place in a pot, bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly until thickened about 45 minutes. Add sugar, bring to a boil over moderate heat for another 15 minutes, until it reaches the setting point (220°F), and the peels are translucent.
- To make ginger marmalade, use 3 ½ cups peeled, fresh ginger, 4 cups water, 5 cups sugar, and 1 3-ounce pouch of liquid pectin. Shred the ginger with a box grater or food processor. Simmer in a saucepan with water for 1 hour, until tender. Place in bowl along with ginger liquid to soak for 8 hours, overnight. Place in a pot with sugar, bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute until sugar dissolves. Stir in liquid pectin, reducing heat to a simmer, and cook for 7 more minutes until thickened. Since ginger is a low pectin fruit, it will need the aid of a commercially made pectin or lemons to help it set up and thicken.
Easy Homemade Orange Marmalade Recipe
Prep Time20 min
Total Time1 hr 50 min
Cook Time1 hr 30 min
- 2 pounds oranges (preferably Spanish Seville or navel oranges), 6 to 7 medium
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- Using a sharp knife, slice off the orange peels (including the white pith). Slice the peels into thin strips between ⅛-¼ inch thick.
- Halve the remaining fruit and remove any seeds. Slice into ½ inch thick pieces. In a bowl, toss together the peels and sliced fruit, cover with 6 cups of water and let sit for 8 hours, overnight.
- Place the peels, fruit, and sugar along with the soaking water in a heavy-bottomed large pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 hours or until a candy thermometer registers 220°F. Peels should be soft and translucent.
- Ladle finished hot jam into four clean 8-ounce mason jars, let cool completely to room temperature if storing in the fridge (up to one month), otherwise proceed with a canning method for longer storage.