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Making Marmalade: Tips & Techniques


Jim Dixon
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My marmalade is usually 90 to 100 percent Seville oranges. We will fill in as necessary if the oranges we get are not as juicy as they might be and we need more juice in order to make 6 full half pints per batch. The Sevilles we get are not especially juicy, compared to many other oranges or citrus fruits, so if we are short we will top off our juice with a grapefruit, lemons, a lime, a bergamot when available, various sweeter oranges. A couple of meyer lemons or half a grapefruit really doesn't make a lot of difference in the flavor; but a whole bergamot can. I've had terrific lemon-lime marmalade and grapefruit marmalade, but I haven't made them myself. I should try, because it would probably be cheaper than using the Sevilles that show up two months out of the year.

 

I find the trickiest part when not using a juice mix with the approx bitter/sour taste of Sevilles is getting the amount of sugar right. I like my marmalade to be pretty bitter, but a "low sugar" marmalade implies one of two things: you are going to find it inedible or you may end up standing over the pot boiling it forever. When you say "low sugar" are you meaning you would use some type of sugar substitute? I wish I knew more about the science, but I believe the ratio of sugar to fruit to pips (or gelling ingredient) all has bearing on how long the marmalade takes to reach set up stage and whether it sets up the way you like it. 

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OK after a couple interruptions I have begun my marmalade. In the interest of time I'm following a recipe most similar to Katie Meadows. In stead of all water i've used half orange juice from the valencias, which are less sweet than I thought they would be and half water. 

 

The Mexican limes turned out to be calamondin......greenish yellow on the outside with tart orange flesh. The total jus is about 75% lemon. I'm going to use 75% sugar by volume assuming simmered jus and zest is 100%. Might be a long night.

 

Thanks for all the input I'll keep you posted.

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Marmalade is finished. I ended up with 100% sugar because it tasted so sour during the cooking. It took a good 30min to cook down and it went up to 226 degrees. I jarred it in 1/2 pint jars but did not run it through a hot water bath. Nothing like hearing those lids pop after everything is cleaned up and the lights are off.

 

It's been in the jars for 5 days now and is set up about half as much as I would like. The flavor is great though the sour far out weighs the bitter. Sweetness balances the sourness a bit and it may mellow a bit in the jars.

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  • 8 months later...

I am back on the marmalade trail again! A neighbor supplied me with a mess of key limes and 5 meyer lemons. Zest and "supremed" fruit yielded about 6 cups. They'll soak tonight and I'll finish tomorrow afternoon. I'm using the recipe and techniques found here....http://dogislandfarm.com/2010/06/key-lime-marmalade/. I'm hoping that the floral component of tree ripened key limes will show through.

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That sounds great, @catdaddy. I am so looking forward to kumquat and Seville / bitter orange season, so I can make marmalade.

I almost made a calamondin marmalade like you a few weeks ago; I was at the store with a half-filled bag in hand, but then someone who works there had me try one and indeed it was very sour and not as bitter as I would have liked, so I passed. But I regretted it a bit. I think it would still taste very nice.

Edited by FrogPrincesse
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I'm hoping my ex neighbor will bring me some bitter oranges from his brother's place over in Ojai next month.

He has just a few trees - they are the old rootstock onto which navel oranges were grafted but were in an exposed area and when there was a hard, extended freeze about twenty years ago, he lost a lot of trees.  He had the inner ones dug out and new trees planted but he left about 20 trees bordering the road and the original rootstock produced limbs and the bitter oranges.

I guess the rootstock for the natural trees is more hardy than the hybrids.

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I couldn't resist. There were more calamondins at Specialty Produce this morning when I picked up my produce box, and I had to get some...

In the box there was a Buddha's Hand, so I am thinking of combining the two for marmalade. Should I add a third citrus? Any advice is welcome! :)

 

Calamondins and Buddha's Hand from Specialty Produce

 

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Robert Lambert sells a calamondin marmalade ($18 for 8 ounces... artisan marmalades with rare citrus aren't exactly cheap!).

Here is what he writes about it.

 

Quote

Though this uncommon varietal originates in the Philippines (where it's also known as calamansi), it it grown privately in Northern California and I am fortunate to have access to this remarkable citrus known to make the very best marmalade. Tiny, delicate, and full of seeds, I used manicure scissors to harvest them, then took several days to cut them. The result was well worth the effort–deep, brilliant, jewel-like color, fine strips of delicate peel and a bright, piquant flavor that dances between mandarin, orange and lime, with a long finish all its own.

 

The ingredients in his marmalade are as follows: sugar, Calamondin, water, Rangpur lime juice, orange juice, Meyer lemon juice.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I put the result in the Preserving thread.

 

Here is another marmalade I made today with (12) Yuzu limes, (3) Meyer lemons and (2) Valencia oranges. Last year I had done an all Yuzu marmalade and thought that the taste was not as interesting or deep as I would have hoped. The mixed of citrus seems to have worked. My kitchen smelled wonderful this afternoon!

 

Here are the yuzus (Meyer lemons and oranges in the colander). They look and feel like yellow mandarins, but inside they have a ton of pith and little juice. The skin however smells amazing, it bursts with flavor as soon as you gently touch it. These yuzus are local (Jamul which is ~ 30 min from where I live) and have a very short season, just a few weeks in December.

 

Yuzus

 

Yuzu limes

 

 

31129573670_5abf41fb3f_b.jpg

 

 

My little assistant, nesting on the recipe.

 

31463127376_b00f26d5e5_b.jpg

 

I boiled the peels in water for 20 minutes. Then I cooked them with the sugar and the juice (I also added the juice of one lemon), and the bag of seeds & pith. The jam cooked fairly quickly, about 45 minutes. That copper pot is amazing by the way. Before that pot, it used to take me hours to cook marmalade!

 

Yuzu lime, Meyer lemon and Valencia orange marmalade

 

The yield was 9 jars, plus one "sample" jar.

 

Yuzu lime, Meyer lemon and Valencia orange marmalade

 

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I love your copper pot but not nearly as much as I love your assistant. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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She is pretty cute. She's been wondering about all the activity in the kitchen...

 

 

I snuck in a tablespoon of cognac in the yuzu marmalade. I know Scotch whisky is standard, but I needed a French touch. Last year I used Japanese whisky but it has become so rare, I just cannot bring myself to doing it again. 

Edited by FrogPrincesse (log)
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  • 1 year later...

Second year making my yuzu and Meyer lemon marmalade (this time with Cara Cara oranges and a touch of Famouse Grouse). The lemons gels like crazy so I had a nice yield of 13 jars, starting with 2.7 kg of fruit.

 

Yuzu, Meyer lemon and Cara Cara orange marmalade (with Famous Grouse scotch whisky) 

 

Yuzu, Meyer lemon and Cara Cara orange marmalade (with Famous Grouse scotch whisky) 

 

Yuzu, Meyer lemon and Cara Cara orange marmalade (with Famous Grouse scotch whisky) 

 

Yuzu, Meyer lemon and Cara Cara orange marmalade (with Famous Grouse scotch whisky) 

 

Yuzu, Meyer lemon and Cara Cara orange marmalade (with Famous Grouse scotch whisky) 

 

Yuzu, Meyer lemon and Cara Cara orange marmalade (with Famous Grouse scotch whisky) 

 

Yuzu, Meyer lemon and Cara Cara orange marmalade (with Famous Grouse scotch whisky) 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 years later...

@gfwebThere is a Making Marmalade thread somewhere here on eG. Seville oranges are in the stores right now in CA. They have a very short season, which is why we are in the middle of our yearly marmalade production right now. We typically make three or four batches  of six jars each. Seville orange season just happens to be concurrent with the even shorter season here for Bergamot. We like to add a couple of bergamots to each batch if they are available. Sometimes we don't get quite enough juice from the same weight of oranges, so we throw in a grapefruit's worth of juice to make up the difference. It's all good. Check out the Marmalade thread. 

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Quote

Bitter oranges, C. aurantia, have declined in importance. They are grown mainly in Spain (hence ‘Seville’ oranges), and the bulk of the crop is exported to Britain where it is made into MARMALADE. Only bitter oranges can be used to make proper marmalade, which depends not only on their bitterness but also on the aromatic rind, which is quite different from that of the sweet orange.

 

The Oxford Companion to Food, 2nd edition.

 

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You can now get Wilkin & Sons tawny orange marmalade on Amazon. And it's not crazy expensive. It's bitter, It's dark, it has big chunks of rind, and it makes all things in the world better. 

 

There must be other good brands in the UK, but I've never found one over here. 

Possibly the only other choice is making it yourself. In which case, yeah, seville oranges.

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After a very shallow investigation I discover that Seville or sour oranges are grown in southern CA at several orchards. Supposedly they are at some farmers' markets down there. If so the time is probably now. I didn't go deep enough to see how far from home these orchards market the oranges. My husband is making a trip to Berkeley Bowl this morning so maybe he can find out where ours are grown. There is even a place near Visalia in southern CA called Seville, and they claim there's an orchard there.

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I could the ones here coming from Cali or Spain or somewhere else. I mean, I see friggin' oranges from South Africa when they're not in season here.  And plenty of clementines from Spain and Morocco.

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20 hours ago, paulraphael said:

You can now get Wilkin & Sons tawny orange marmalade on Amazon. And it's not crazy expensive. It's bitter, It's dark, it has big chunks of rind, and it makes all things in the world better. 

 

There must be other good brands in the UK, but I've never found one over here. 

Possibly the only other choice is making it yourself. In which case, yeah, seville oranges.

 

I have a jar of Robert Lambert Seville Orange Marmalade.  It's said he grows the fruit himself.

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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42 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

I have a jar of Robert Lambert Seville Orange Marmalade.  It's said he grows the fruit himself.

 

His marmalades are wonderful. I've had several over the years. He used to sell them at a local farmer's market here in Oakland. Now they are very pricey, so as tempted as I often am, we pretty much try to make enough marmalade to last for 12 months. We need about 24 jars a year, and that includes a few jars to give away. I'm into some other toast options lately, but my husband can go through a jar himself in under two weeks. 

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  • 1 month later...
On 2/27/2020 at 5:20 PM, paulraphael said:

You can now get Wilkin & Sons tawny orange marmalade on Amazon. And it's not crazy expensive. It's bitter, It's dark, it has big chunks of rind, and it makes all things in the world better. 

 

There must be other good brands in the UK, but I've never found one over here. 

Possibly the only other choice is making it yourself. In which case, yeah, seville oranges.

I got the stuff.  Its just right. Thanks!

I found a supermarket brand ,James Keiller and Son. Not bad either.

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  • 1 year later...

A harbinger of things to come, and not in a good way.  I love a small amount of bergamot juice and peel in my marmalade. In the 15 or so years we have been making marmalade, bergamot season, though shorter than seville orange season, has always coincided with the seville season. Sevilles have reliably been available here in northern CA roughly late January or early February through most of March. All of a sudden last week my husband spotted bergamots in our usual shop. I am guessing they will gone by the time the sevilles come in, unless by some freak of nature (oops, that expression is going the way of the Dodo bird; of course I mean climate change) seasonal produce is changing seasons.   

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