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Making Marmalade: Tips & Techniques


Jim Dixon
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I'll be happy to send the recipe to anyone who PM's me, but it's two typed pages so I won't post it here. You've got to have Seville oranges, though, regular oranges won't work for this recipe.

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Sorry to resurrect this thread, but Suvir's marmalade sounds fantastic and I have a pile of meyers just aching to become marmalade right now.

I emailed Suvir but haven't heard anything back - does anyone else have this recipe?

Many thanks!

How timely! I've been meaning to search the archives as I, too, have an abundance of meyer lemons in my backyard. I would be grateful if someone could share a tried-and-true recipe for meyer lemon marmalade. There are many recipes floating around on the web, but I would prefer one that's been vetted by EG. :wink:

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We're in full Seville Orange season (and it's a short one) so nows the time if ever to make up a batch of marmalade.

There are various techniques out there to prepare the citrus. Some call for the whole fruit to be poached but I prefer juicing, removing the membrane, cutting the peel with a good knife and soaking it all with a cheesecloth bag of the seeds and some of the pulp to give a nice bright color and flavor.

This is my "knife skills" technique to make 7 or 8 -250ml. jars and works basically for other citrus as well with a couple of exceptions I'll note later. This is a two day process due to the presoaking of the peel.

700 gr. whole Seville oranges (5 - 6 preferably organic)

1.35 liters water

sugar to the measured amount of poached peel and liquid

(juice of a lemon - optional)

cheesecloth

Day 1

Wash and juice the oranges (they have lots more seeds than regular oranges), reserving the seeds and juice for the soaking process.

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Slide the edge of a spoon between the membrane and the pith of the orange and remove the membrane, reserving about half for soaking with the seeds. You may also chop up some or all of the membrane to be added to the marmalade itself but I find it "muddies" the final taste.

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Using a sharp knife cut the orange peel into rough juliennes and then into segments, adjust size of pieces to suit your taste.

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Place all the cut peel in a non reactive bowl with the water. Using a piece of cheesecloth wrap up all the seeds and about half the membrane, roughly chopped, and tie tightly to ensure no leakage of seeds. Place in the bowl with the peel and the water. Cover and leave at cool room temp for 24 hours. This is very important as it helps the development of the natural pectin in the seeds.

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End of Day 1.

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Day 2

Once your peel mixture has soaked for 24 hours it's time to poach the peel along with the cheesecloth bag of seeds until the peel is very tender. It should squish between your fingers as it will not get any softer once the sugar is added. This poaching process can take 20 - 25 minutes depending on how tough the peel is. Make sure that you do not cook the peel at a full boil or it will reduce the amount of liquid drastically and affect your marmalade consistency. I simmer mine partially covered with a lid to retain as much liquid as possible.

Once the peel is soft, remove the cheesecloth and squeeze any excess liquid from it (without bursting the bag!).

Measure out your peel with all the juice and pour into one or two heavy non reactive pots. Then measure out an equal amount of sugar and add to the peel.

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Make sure the sugar has dissolved before you bring the pot to a full boil.

I try to not have my pots more than a third full to start as you need to boil the marmalade fairly hard and you do not want this boiling over!

I use a high temp spatula to stir the bottom of the pot as the peel can tend to stick and even burn.

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Once the peel mixture comes to a full boil the fun begins as you will need to cook it until it has reached the magical setting point. This should take about 15 - 20 minutes. Be very careful from now on as you are working with extremely hot and potentially dangerous temperatures. Take the phone off the hook and get someone to watch the kids as this will need your full attention.

I have experimented with temperatures and some people can tell just by the sound of the bubbles but I find the most reliable way to ensure a good set is the old fashioned cold plate in the fridge or freezer. Once you feel you are getting close; take the plate out of the fridge and put a teaspoon or so of your hot mixture on it and return the plate to the fridge for a couple of minutes. To test the set push the cool mixture with your fingertip and if it wrinkles a bit you are good to go. You should stop your cooking process each time you conduct this test in order to ensure you do not go too far past the set point and make a really stiff marmalade. Don't be fooled by how liquid the hot marmalade is.

Seville oranges along with their bitter flavor have a lot more pectin than any other citrus and need to just barely wrinkle in my experience in order to achieve a nice set. Other citrus like Meyer lemons should have a fairly stiff "wrinkle" test in order to set up and even then they are more of a soft set in the jar, more suited to spooning than spreading with a knife.

Once you have determined that your marmalade is ready you will need to let it cool a bit before putting in sterile jars. I find that letting it cool to 155 - 160F. ensures that you will not have the problem of all the peel floating to the top of the jar.

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Once filled I seal the jars and process for 5 minutes in boiling water. Although marmalade is a bit of a challenge to make the first couple of times, once you have practiced and made some notes you will find that the finished product is miles ahead of even the best imported marmalades.

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Please feel free to offer any criticism or variations on this as I've simply adapted techniques I've come across over the years and welcome any new insights.

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Bump? Still looking for a meyer marmalade recipe :)

Here are the proportions for a Meyer Lemon batch, just follow the technique from the previous post. Because Meyer Lemons have way less pectin than Sevilles you will get a softer set that works best being spooned onto your toast (or for roasting a chicken or pork!).

For about 12 -14 - 250ml jars:

1.7 kilos whole lemons

2.25 liters water

sugar to equal the poached peel with liquid

The only difference in making this compared to the Seville marm above is that when you poach the soaked peel it will be ready in about 10 minutes. Also, make sure that your "set" test gives a nice stiff wrinkle as it will be too soft otherwise.

Meyer and Sevilles combine beautifully to make a combo marmalade and that gets around the lack of pectin in the Meyers. .gallery_14057_2869_272257.jpg

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Bump? Still looking for a meyer marmalade recipe :)

Here are the proportions for a Meyer Lemon batch, just follow the technique from the previous post. Because Meyer Lemons have way less pectin than Sevilles you will get a softer set that works best being spooned onto your toast (or for roasting a chicken or pork!).

For about 12 -14 - 250ml jars:

1.7 kilos whole lemons

2.25 liters water

sugar to equal the poached peel with liquid

The only difference in making this compared to the Seville marm above is that when you poach the soaked peel it will be ready in about 10 minutes. Also, make sure that your "set" test gives a nice stiff wrinkle as it will be too soft otherwise.

Meyer and Sevilles combine beautifully to make a combo marmalade and that gets around the lack of pectin in the Meyers. .gallery_14057_2869_272257.jpg

Thank you very much for this info and the pictorial. Now if I can just set aside enough time this weekend to get this project done, I will be very happy indeed.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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I've been making what I think is the best Seville orange marmalade I've ever tasted.  It's not like anything else I've had before, very caramelized and intense.

Thanks for the recipe -- it's really great marmalade. I did discover that it cooks faster than I expected and that I didn't need to cook to 112C to set. It's the end of the Seville season here, so next year!

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  • 7 years later...

For those of you who make traditional marmalade with Seville (bitter) oranges, what is the typical ratio of fruit to sugar? I made a batch last year using 6 oranges and 1.7 kg of sugar but forgot to weigh the oranges. I want to use a similar recipe with kumquats, but now I don't know how much sugar to use. I am guessing 1 kg of bitter oranges/kumquats to 1 kg sugar. Does that sound about right?

 

Thanks!

Edited by FrogPrincesse
typo (log)
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I base the ratio on volume, not weight, since sevilles give up varying amounts of juice. Sometimes 4 lbs of oranges will yield as much as 3 1/2 cups of juice. Yesterday we made marmalade and 4.5 lbs of sevilles gave up only 2 1/2 cups.

Also the sugar doesn't go in at the beginning for my recipe. We simmer the juice along with twice the quantity of water and most of the pips and cook it down for about 45 minutes (zest goes in halfway). Then we measure the total liquid and use a ratio of 1 cup juice to 3/4 cup sugar, That gets boiled down further until the optimal temp is reached.

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Here's the recipe I use - 

 

Marmalade Ingredients

 

  • ½ dozen Seville oranges two pounds
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup water to soak seeds
  • 1 cup sugar for every 1 cup fruit
  • 2 lemons

 

Method

 

Remove seeds, soak overnight in water. Then tie in cheesecloth. Grind or slice oranges, soak in water overnight. Boil together for one hour. Remove bag of seeds. Measure fruit, add 1 cup sugar to 1 cup fruit. Grind or slice and add 2 lemons. Boil together for about 30 minutes. Start testing after about 20 minutes. Tip cold plate, look for little ridges on surface. 

 

Source

Mom

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Wow Kerry, that's the most different method from mine that I could imagine.

Fp, I wonder if you get better or fresher sevilles in southern CA than we do in the Bay Area. My husband has a theory that as the season winds down the sevilles become less juicy. Last year the crop seemed better than this year. We make 4 batches a year and usually get 18-22 pints, which lasts until the next February, with a few for gifts.

In the past we have made a batch or two of marmalade using some bergamot (not too much!) but this year for the first time in years we're not seeing any bergamot around. They are usually available from the very end of December until about mid February, although not easily found. Is there any bergamot in southern CA this year? Just curious. Maybe it was a small crop this year.

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Katie - I haven't seen any bergamot this year. They are not available via my local produce supplier either. I am planning on going to the farmers' market this Saturday, so I will see what I can find.

 

The Seville oranges I got last year were great. I don't think they were particularly juicy, but the marmalade was delicious.

 

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My recipe is similar to Kerry's but with a few differences.

  • 2-1/3 lt. water per kg of oranges (that's about 4-1/4 c. per pound, about the same as Kerry's recipe)
  • Remove some of the excess pith from the peel before cutting.
  • Boil the excess pith along with the seeds and other innards in some of the water (no bag), about 2 hr.
  • Boil the cut peel in the juice & rest of the water until tender, about 2 hr.
  • Soak both overnight in the fridge to extract pectin. (Kerry soaks first & then boils - I wonder if there's a difference.)

Next day.

  • Strain the pith/seeds: don't squeeze or you'll get cloudy marmalade.  Add to the peel/water/juice.  (I don't add lemon unless I'm making orange-lemon marmalade, but that's a different recipe.)
  • Measure liquid/peel and add 1 kg sugar per litre.  (= 0.55  pound per cup, about the same as Kerry's ratio of 1 c. sugar to 1 c fruit/liquid)
  • Boil rapidly to setting point

Tip: When boiling, don't leave unattended for too long because when it's nearly ready, the peel sinks and will burn on the bottom of the pan.

(Modified from Allison Burt, Preserves & Pickles. 1973 Hong Kong: Mandarin Publishers)

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Here is the recipe I used last year, adapted from David Lebovitz.

 

  • Juice six bitter oranges together with one navel orange
  • Save the seeds and place in a muslin bag
  • Clean the rind and cut it into thin strips; cook in a large pot with the orange juice, 2.5 liters of water, the orange seed bag, and a pinch of salt
  • After 30 min or when the orange rind is translucent, add 1.7 kg of sugar and continue cooking at a gentle boil [i had some apple pectin (~ 120 g) from another jam project that I added to the pot]
  • Cook the marmalade until it reaches close to 220F (the gelling point),  about 2 to 3 hours
  • Fill into jars, close and and turn upside down to cool
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Our recipe is pulled from various sources and has evolved over the years. We've been doing this for many years since we realized that we liked marmalade far better than most jam and that most commercial marmalade wasn't what we wanted it to be--either too solid or too thick-cut or too sweet or too expensive. So this is what we do:

Juice the fruit, and measure it and add twice the amount of water. Start heating up in a large heavy pot. Put most of the pips (I usually use about 3/4 of all pips) in a porous cloth bag--basically an old rag tied with sting. I try to add mainly the seeds and as little pith/pulp as possible. Add the pip bag to the juice and simmer 20 minutes. Meanwhile scrape the pith from the rind and cut finely or as you like it (I like it very fine, with no white pith.) After 20 minutes simmering add in the cut peel and continue to cook at a lively simmer 25 minutes.

Take out the pip bag and let it cool. Measure the liquid and then put it back into the pot. Add 3/4 cup sugar for every cup of juice. I do sort of squeeze a little extra goop through the pip bag, but then toss out the rest. My marmalade does not get cloudy. The sugar and juice mixture then gets cooked down until the desired temp is reached. We like to pour the marmalade into pint jars when it reaches about 211 degrees. I believe the temp as which you get an ideal consistency (one you like best) is going to vary according to how much sugar you use and how many pips you use, but that's what works for us.

Sometimes if we don't get at least 3 1/2 cups of juice from the sevilles at the beginning we will add a little of whatever is at hand--half a grapefruit, a lime, a lemon, whatever. Sevilles have a pretty distinct taste, so a little of some other citrus goes pretty much undetected. Bergamot IS detectable, especially the peel!

In my post above I made an error. What I meant was 18-22 half pints total for the year, not pints.

Edited by Katie Meadow (log)
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  • 11 months later...

Thanks to all who have revealed their proven recipes in this thread! 

Just today I got some ripe Mexican limes, knobby lemons, and valencia oranges all organic. I'm going to make some marmalade and wonder if anyone has had success with a blend of all the above?

 

I would like to use a low sugar recipe so I'm thinking that soaking the pips is essential.

 

Any thoughts?

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@catdaddyLow sugar? How low? Most marmalade recipes seem to have > 50% sugar.

Recently I've made a chinotto orange marmalade (with scotch) and a yuzu marmalade (with Japanese whisky). Homemade marmalade is amazing...

 

Your "knobby lemons" intrigue me. Are these a type of citron?

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Hi, FrogPrincesse.

I was considering trying a commercial pectin product that uses 4c of sugar to make 5 pints of finished product. Never made marmalade but I've had good results making berry jams with it. I'd love to hear about your or anyone else's experience with low sugar marmalade.

 

I think the lemons are the Ponderosa variety, some of them the size of a softball. The folks who owned the tree didn't know what they were but Mr Google provided results.

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@catdaddyI have no experience with low sugar marmalade, I am afraid. I have used commercial (Pomona) pectin once for persimmon jam, but didn't care for it. I used only a small amount and it made the jam artificially firm for my taste. I prefer to make my own pectin from green apples a la Christine Ferber.

 

Google also tells me that ponderosas are a cross between lemons and citrons. Very cool. I am pretty sure they'd make a spectacular marmalade on their own! I can't wait to hear what the finished product tastes like. :)

 

Edited by FrogPrincesse
typo (log)
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@catdaddy, in Saving the Season, author Kevin West has several recipes for mixed citrus marmalades.  One of them, from Tom Hudgens, author of The Commonsense Kitchen, says that any combination of citrus would work, as long as it balances the sweeter fruits (oranges, Meyer lemons, tangerines, kumquats) with the half-sour or bitter (lemons, limes, grapefruit) so I'd think you could put together a great mix from your collection.   The recipe for Tom's Mixed-Citrus Marmalade includes ginger and Earl Grey tea and sounds good. 

 

Do report back on your results, I'd love to hear how it works out.

 

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