Orange Marmalade

published Apr 18, 2022
Orange Marmalade Recipe
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orange marmalade in a small rounded glass jar with a silver scooping spoon starting to spoon a small amount out, with oranges surrounding it
Credit: Perry Santanachote

English orange marmalade — the kind Paddington Bear survived on — is traditionally made with Seville oranges, which have naturally high amounts of pectin that gives marmalade its signature gel texture. They are also bitter enough to give the sweet spread balance. In the United States, Seville oranges can be hard to come by, but the navel oranges that grow in abundance here make a pretty darn good marmalade, too. 

Making your own marmalade for the first time can be unnerving (especially when you glance at the cook time), but it’s not difficult — it just requires a little patience! Here’s how to do it.

How to Make Orange Marmalade 

To make marmalade you just need the three following ingredients:

  • Citrus
  • Water
  • Sugar

Once you juice the oranges and separate the membranes and seeds from the rind, let everything soak in a muslin bag overnight. This step draws out the all-important pectin from the skin and seeds and will set your marmalade after you cook it. The next day, you’ll boil that mixture for a couple of hours to soften the orange peel, then add sugar and cook until it reaches 220ºF, the point when the sugar will react with the pectin to create the gel-like marmalade texture you know and love.

Credit: Perry Santanachote

What’s the Difference Between Marmalade and Jam?

Jams, jellies, and marmalades are more similar than different. They’re all made by cooking fruit with sugar to release natural pectin that firms up the mixture. The differences are mainly the consistency of the final product and how much fruit is in it.

  • Jam is the loosest of the bunch, with whole or broken-up pieces of fruit.
  • Jelly is very gelatinous and has only the juice of the fruit.
  • Marmalade is strictly made with citrus, with the whole fruit, including the rind.

What Goes Well with Orange Marmalade?

There’s the classic marmalade on buttered toast, but there are also all these creative ways to use your jelly.

  • Ice cream topping
  • Ham glaze
  • Pan sauce
  • On a cheese plate

Orange Marmalade Recipe

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 2 hours 20 minutes

Makes about 5 cups

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4

    medium navel oranges (about 2 1/4 pounds total)

  • 2

    medium lemons

  • 2 quarts

    water

  • 5 cups

    granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Wash and scrub 4 medium navel oranges and 2 medium lemons.

  2. Cut the ends off the oranges and discard. Halve the oranges and juice through a fine-mesh strainer fitted over a large saucepan to catch seeds and pulp (about 1 cup juice). Halve the lemons and juice through the strainer into the saucepan (about 1/3 cup juice). Place the juiced lemon shells in the strainer.

  3. Flip each orange shell inside out. Peel away the flesh and membranes with your fingers and add them to the strainer. Cut each orange shell into quarters and place in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse into 1/2-inch pieces, about 7 (1-second) pulses. (Alternatively, use a sharp knife to slice the orange peel into thin strips.) Add to the saucepan.

  4. Transfer the contents of the strainer onto the center of a large piece of muslin cloth or double layer of cheesecloth. Pull up the four corners to the middle to form a pouch. Tie the pouch shut with kitchen string and add to the saucepan.

  5. Add 2 quarts water to the saucepan. Cover, and let soak at room temperature overnight.

  6. The next day, uncover and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 2 hours. Meanwhile, place a plate in the freezer (you’ll need this to check for doneness).

  7. Remove the pouch and squeeze it between two slotted spoons or tongs to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the pouch.

  8. Clip a candy or deep-fry thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Add 5 cups granulated sugar and stir until dissolved, skimming off any foam that rises to the top. Stop stirring and let the mixture heat up to 220ºF, about 15 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed to simmer at this temperature for 5 minutes.

  9. Turn off the heat. Test the marmalade by smearing a spoonful onto the frozen plate. Tilt the plate — the marmalade is ready if it’s a soft gel consistency that moves slightly and forms a skin on top. It may run down the plate at first, but as long as it forms the gel straight away, then it’s ready. If it’s thin and runny, continue simmering and re-checking every 10 minutes.

  10. Let the marmalade cool for 15 minutes. Give it a stir to redistribute, then ladle into mason jars or storage containers. Seal and refrigerate until set, 5 to 24 hours.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Marmalade will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Freezing: You can also freeze this marmalade for up to 6 months, just be sure to leave 1/2-inch of room at the top of the jar so the jam can expand while freezing.