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Monday, December 3, 2012

My attempt at making marmalade

I was hoping to do a post today on how I ventured out to make a marmalade and succeeded.

Uhhmm.. not exactly.

As with most of my cooking/baking adventures, it started pretty well.

I borrowed 6 canning/jam making books from the library. Poured over them and decided to make orange marmalade. Orange ginger marmalade is one of my favorite jam but I thought I should just stick to utilizing one-type of ingredient so orange marmalade it is.

There is a recipe for orange marmalade in 3 of the cookbooks I borrowed. I decided to make the one in Food In Jars. Mainly because the author, Marisa McClellan, also happens to have a blog, and she posted the Three Citrus Marmalade recipe, as well as step-by-step instructions.

I figured this being the first time I make marmalade, pictures would help.

My trip to the grocery store to get 3 different citrus was somewhat successful. I found pink grapefruit and lemons but no navel oranges. I found tangerines instead. Not sure whether this was the right decision but I was determined.

I also halved the recipe, in case I fail, my $ damage would be less.

yummy citrus
First, wash and weigh the citrus. 2 lemons, 1 grapefruit, 3 tangerines = 2.2 lbs.

Then remove the peel with a vegetable peeler. I don't have a serrated peeler like Marisa. Actually, only have 1 peeler but it did the job pretty well.

Then chop the peel into ribbons, cook them in 3 cups of water.

Chopping the peel into ribbons was much harder than I thought. I am usually a fan of chopping, having had my share of chopping onions, carrots, and celery every week but citrus peel is a completely different experience.

Add to that I have a small cut that I thought healed already on one of my fingers. Apparently it has not healed all that well because it zinged when I started cutting into the flesh of the citrus.

While the zest was boiling, remove the white pith of the fruit. Then cut into the membrane, removing the fruit flesh. This technique is supreming (see pictorial at Coconut & Lime).

Collect the membrane and seeds and bundle them in a piece of cheesecloth.

All the fruit flesh and the juice gets to go to a pot. Joined by the strained liquid from the cooked zest, and all the zest.

I am also supposed to add 3 cups of sugar but since tangerines are sweeter than navel oranges, I reduced the sugar to 2 1/4 cup.

The cheesecloth bundle containing the membrane and seeds also goes into the pot. They contain a lot of pectin that will help the marmalade get into that jelly-like texture.

So this is what they look like when they were crazy bubbling boiling.

Marisa said to boil for 30-40 minutes or until it reached 220 degrees and stayed there for a minute. I set my timer to 30 minutes first, stirring the mixture every 5 minutes as instructed.

After 30 minutes it had a temperature of 200 degrees.

10 more minutes and it reached 220 degrees.

Doesn't it look yummy?

I poured them into 4 4-oz canning jars and process in the water-bath canner for 20 minutes.

We opened the pot the next day and...

...they were really bitter and really sweet at the same time.

Verdict: not edible.

And at the time of writing this post, they have all ended up in trash (I did save the jars for future use).

So that's #1 attempt at making marmalade.

Will there be #2?


I think I will try using less zest and play with the sugar amount. I know sugar also plays a role in making the marmalade jelly-like so I probably would have to add pectin.

Have you guys made marmalade or jam? What was your experience like?


  1. Well, you tried and that's the important part! I've made jam before, but not marmalade. I'd suggest focusing on different types of oranges and maybe just one or two lemons, no grapefruit. I love grapefruit, but the peel is extremely bitter.

  2. Thanks Julie! I didn't know grapefruit peel is very bitter. Will try this again without it.

  3. Jenn,

    Found your blog through heavenly bakers - love it. It has even made me bust out the needles again, and I thought my yarn days were over.

    I think the method you used is very strange. I have Marisa's book and love the blog, but would NEVER make marmalade her way, or with the ratio of sugar to fruit she does. The book you need is called Preserves by Pam Corbin (get the UK edition - all weights).

    I blogged the Corbin way here:

    I have done this method with grapefruits as well, skipping the vanilla, and it was lovely. You don't need demerera sugar either, granulated is fine.

    If you want to water bath process the jars (we don't do that in the UK), 10 minutes should be fine.

    1. Mr. P,
      Thanks so much for stopping by. So glad to hear you started knitting again :). I just checked out your lemon marmalade post and it is very different (and sounds good). I will have to try this.

      About the water bath process, how come you don't do that in the UK? My time is longer because of the high altitude (Denver is about 5,000 miles above sea level). Though I realize now it should have only been 15 minutes instead of 20 minutes.

  4. I've made Rose's Cordon Rose Raspberry Preserves and her Strawberry Preserves (from The Cake Bible, and they are SO GOOD) but I've never made marmalade. I was thinking about tackling it this winter when the sevilles come out. Keep us posted!

    1. ECL, I forgot that Rose has preserves recipes in TCB. Thanks for reminding me. Will have to try them next summer when the berries are in season.

  5. I used to make jalapeño jelly (great on a Ritz with cream cheese), but I've never tackled fruity jams and jellies. I'll be watching for your next batch. Learning experience that it might have been, your top photo is to die for. :-)

    1. Thanks Lois. I will post about the next batch - hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

  6. I agree with Lois. The pictures are mouth watering :o)
    I made some jams with different fruits. The recipe calls for finely chopped apples which provide the pectin needed. I've made this recipe many times with various fruits. I hope it helps:

    1. Your jam looks so good Hanaa! I need to remember to make this next year when rhubarb are in season.

  7. Jenn, I've never used grapefruit; it can be quite bitter, so I would use just a half or quarter. And more sugar would have helped. Not that I'm an expert, but you can read my method here (and you'll find a hint of what went wrong on *my* first attempt!) at (I don't usually put a link to my blog in my comments, but it's the easiest way to answer your question "What was your experience like?" But your marmalade looks absolutely gorgeous!


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