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Homemade Gifts: Orange Marmalade

Orange Marmalade

One of my favorite things about December in California is the proliferation of fresh oranges (and all citrus, really). I love them in their simplest form, eaten by hand in sections, but placing a whole slice of orange on a piece of toast is a little awkward. And as popular and exotic a gift as they were in Victorian stockings (a tradition my father continued), giving a person an orange is sadly not a very special thing anymore. Instead, you give them marmalade.

I love marmalade because it’s fun to say. And because I have a fondness for things with competing flavors: here, the sweet and the bitter. And because there’s something fascinating about seeing pieces of orange rind suspended in an orange jelly.

This was my first time making marmalade and there were some panicky moments. Most recipes call for supreming, or sectioning, the fruit and reserving the pith and seeds for their pectin. This took a lot of extra work, and a lot of the fruit was lost in the supreming, and my jam had not set after more than an hour following this method, so I gave up and added pectin. I don’t think that supreming is necessary, and to err on the safe side, let’s just use pectin! There is one fussy step that is sort of unavoidable: peeling and julienning the rind of the orange. If you aren’t concerned about how those little bits of suspended orange rind look in their lovely glass jars, just do a fine chop. The recipe below accounts for my amendments, and will hopefully be a breeze to follow. Please email or comment with any questions! And enjoy your marmalade.

with generous guidance from Food in Jars
Yield: about 7 half-pint jars

3 pounds navel oranges
2 large lemons
4-5 cups organic cane or white sugar (adjust to taste)
4 cups water
3 teaspoons Pomona pectin (or use low sugar pectin and follow their instructions)
2 teaspoons calcium water (included with pectin)

Put a small plate in the freezer – you’ll use this later to test whether the jam has set.

Thoroughly wash and scrub your fruits.

Using a sharp vegetable peeler, carefully peel the rind from the oranges and lemons in long strips.

Working with 4-5 strips of stacked rind at a time, julienne with a sharp knife. (Or just do a fine chop if you don’t care how the rind looks in the finished jam.)

Add the rind and the 4 cups water to a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes, covered.

While the rind simmers, slice the tops and bottoms off your fruit, and then slice the remaining peel from them.

Working over a glass bowl so that you catch all of that lovely juice, slice the orange in thirds horizontally. Remove the inner white pith and discard. Break the orange and lemon into small bits. Mash with your fingers or a wooden spoon. Squeeze any juice out of the peel if there is any pulp attached.

In a medium bowl, combine the pectin with 2 cups of the sugar. Set aside.

When the rind is thoroughly simmered, add the chopped fruit and reserved juices. If using Pomona pectin, add the calcium water now. Cover, and bring to a low boil, stirring every few minutes.

While the jam is bubbling, bring a large stock pot to a boil and sterilize your jars, gummed lids and rings. Sterilize them in boiling water for at least 15 minutes. When done, turn off heat but leave them in the hot water.

One the jam has been simmering for about one hour, add the sugar/pectin mix and stir thoroughly for about a minute. Then add the remaining sugar and stir again. At this time, do the set test: place a small dollop of jam on the cold plate, let sit for about a minute. Press gently – if it wrinkles, it is most likely set. If not, add more pectin.

Return the jam to boil, then remove from heat.

Take jars from their water bath and place next to your marmalade.

Using a 1/4 cup measure (it’s a good size for scooping) and a wide-mouthed funnel, ladle hot jam into jars. Fill to 1/4 inch from top of jar. Wipe the lids and any spilled jam from the side of the jars, and apply the gummy seals and rings.

Return the jars to the stock pot used for sterilizing and process them in a hot water bath. You’ll want to time it so that they process for 5 minutes from when the water begins to boil.

Using jar grabber, heavy oven mitts or a thick towel, remove from heat and arrange jars in a spot where they can sit undisturbed overnight. Once cool, check seals by pressing at the center of the lid. If there is no movement, it has been properly sealed.

  • Rita - Mmmm… I’m in love with jams & marmalade. My perfect breakfast is caffelatte and toasted bread with butter and jam (or orange marmalade). Orange marmelade is definitely one of my favorite desserts! It’s going to be one of my next posts, actually. You know, we’re lucky enough to have a friend who brings us navel oranges from Sicily (the best oranges we’ve ever had: nothing to do with what you buy at the market…). I don’t use pectin when I make orange marmalade (I hardly use pectin when I make jams), but I use the pips and pith (which contain a lot of natural pectin) in a muslin bag. Anyway, good job, Kimberley! And compliments for the pictures! They’re always so beautiful! How do you make them? :DReplyCancel

  • Barbara - First-time visitor – I have orange marm almost every day on my homemade English muffins, and I do can a few things, so I’m going to definitely try this recipe! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Feldman - So I made 4 batches of marmalade yesterday (gift for my dad for xmas) and all turned out superbly, especially the tangerine and grapefruit ones. I used Alton Brown’s recipe which was a whole lot easier than this one and it was really great. I’d recommend trying it–it yields a really authentic British marmalade.ReplyCancel

  • Barbara - I must tell you – I have learned more about making marmalade from your blog than anyone else. Thanks for all the information. I was always afraid to do the sealing bit, but it sounds so simple the way you describe it. Thanks very much, and I hope you have a great Christmas!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Yum, yum, yummy, yum! Addictively delicious.ReplyCancel

  • kimberley - @Rita: My favorite oranges are from my mother’s tree. I completely agree that they don’t compare! I think that I may try a pectinless version next time. (Hopefully it’ll set!)
    @Barbara: Hope you enjoy! And hello!
    @Jessica: I will look into Alton’s recipe. Simple is always good! (Although I must confess that I am attached to the look of those thin strips of orange zest in the jam.)
    @Barbara: Thank you so much! I am by no means an expert, which makes me especially glad that you found this helpful! This really made my day.ReplyCancel

  • Michael - Looking for some help! My wife and I made orange marmalade a few weeks ago, but it didn’t set. We reprocessed, essentially doubling the pectin amount. Again, it barely set. So we reprocessed for a third time. Now we have three times the pectin amount called for and now it has set to a soft jello consistency.
    We are following a recipe specifically designed for orange marmalade, but now with three times the amount of pectin, it still will not set properly. The ONLY ingredients are oranges, sugar and pectin.ReplyCancel

  • kimberley - Hi Michael – That sounds like a marmalade nightmare! I wonder if perhaps you boiled the pectin too much? I know that pectin can lose its effect if overboiled. I also read (here: that some marmalades can take a couple weeks to set. Do you have a link to the recipe you used? Let’s troubleshoot this.ReplyCancel

  • Michael - Kim, we used Pomona’s pectin:

    We follow the directions, only bringing back to a boil for two minutes before killing the heat and canning. We only waited a week between retries, so perhaps we didn’t wait long enough?ReplyCancel

    • kimberley - Hi Michael – Do you have a link to the actual recipe? Also, Pomona’s has a Jamline you can call: 413 772 6816. Without having been in the kitchen with you, I’m stumped at this point! Seems like you did everything right! Good luck, and please let me know if you figure anything out. Best, KimberleyReplyCancel

  • Zamipoo - What is 2 teaspoons calcium water (included with pectin) not sure I understand. this part.ReplyCancel

    • kimberley - Zamipoo: Included in the Pomona’s packet is a small packet of calcium. You add water to this, and use it in conjunction with the pectin when making jams. You can also buy a different type of pectin, like low-sugar pectin, and not have to worry about the calcium water.ReplyCancel

  • Lynn - I tried a multi-citrus marmalade recipe from Food in Jars (who I’m a big fan of) last year. That recipe didn’t contain pectin, and although I followed the recipe to a tee, it didn’t set, and tasted bitter.

    Searching for a recipe for the huge bad of oranges sitting on my counter. Curious if you’ve ever had your end product taste bitter (I’ve heard the peel can sometimes result in a bitter taste).


  • Orange Marmalade « fastachi - […] MARMALADE from The Year in Food with generous guidance from Food in Jars Yield: about 7 half-pint jars 3 pounds navel oranges 2 […]ReplyCancel

  • kimberley - Hi Lynn – I haven’t had an end product taste bitter, no! My guess is that the key is to use as little of the pith and any white parts of the fruit as possible. I also used navel oranges, which I suspect had something to do with the outcome, since they’re so much sweeter. What kind of oranges are you using?ReplyCancel

  • Zamipoo - Thank you kimberley. I have only made jam – peach – once before and it was with liquid pectin. btw I bought my oranges tonight. 10 lbs… got them for 3.88 for 5 lbs.ReplyCancel

  • Bridgette Worring - I want to do this recipe right, do I have to use the Pamona pectin or can I use the suregel or other brands of pectin?ReplyCancel

  • A Few Shots from the Food in Jars Flickr Pool - Food in Jars | Food in Jars - […] at The Year in Food. Back in late December (feels so long ago, doesn’t it?), she cooked up a batch of orange marmalade that looks like the perfect thing to brighten a dreary […]ReplyCancel

  • Deb - Hello. I was reading on the Pomona website the instructions for making jelled fruit candy (by just doubling the amount of pectin in the “cooked recipes” section of the directions) and I thought immediately of those orange slice candies from my childhood–the ones coated in the sugar crystals. I used to love those but I don’t buy regular candy anymore because of the non-organic ingredients. I’d like to make some homemade orange slice jell candies but can’t find a recipe for plain orange jelly. I was looking for one when I found your post.

    I figured I’d have to settle for marmalade but was concerned with how it would turn out. I’m not really wanting a chunky candy with this. Maybe if I zest the orange peel very finely, the texture of the marmalade wouldn’t make the candy seem too weird? What are your thoughts, please? Do you suggest using the same amount of peel by weight or by volume if I zest instead of julienne?


    Do you know of an orange jelly recipe using Pomona’s pectin? Do you think designing a recipe using their guidelines and regular orange juice would work? I can’t get organic OJ in concentrate, so I’d have to start out with regular (fresh) juice. I could add some orange extract, I guess. ?

    Thank you in advance for your reply. :)ReplyCancel

  • LaDonna Hoyden - Can I use honey instead of sugar? If so how much should I use? What about Sucanat? Thanks!ReplyCancel

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