Marmalade is one of my favorite jams. It’s the best way to use up some big oranges and a fun morning in the kitchen.
I think marmalade is pretty beginner friendly, there is no added pectin. It’s a lot of hands off time, letting the fruit cook down and caramelize slightly in the pan. I like making it because the yield is pretty high, it’s super bright & summer-y in the jar and I can do other things while it’s softly boiling- like laundry or emails.
as adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (if you are thinking about canning, get this book! no seriously! right away!)
Yield: 8 half pints
2 1/4 lbs oranges, unpeeled but scrubbed clean.
grated zest and juice of a lemon
6 cups of water
9 cups bakers sugar (This is just extra fine sugar, I find it dissolves better in jam)
1/2 cup honey
vanilla bean paste and vanilla vodka for an orange creamsicle marmalade
2 habanero chili peppers and a dash of red pepper flakes for a spicy marmalade
Wash your jars in hot soapy water, then place them in a water canner with at least an inch and a half of water covering the jars. Do not use them straight out of the package. Set the canner on the stove to boil, set the lids and rings in a small sauce pan on the stove in simmering warm water. Don’t boil the rings and lids. I always sterilize a few extra jars, just in case!
Put 4-5 metal spoons in your freezer.
Using either a very sharp knife or a mandolin slice your oranges with the peel on very thin (1/8th to a 1/4 inch thickness) and remove the seeds.
Zest your lemon.
Combine lemon zest, oranges, juice of the lemon and the water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, lower it to a gentle boil. This means the bubbles are there but it’s not a crazy rolling boil. Once it starts to gently boil, set a timer for 40 minutes. During this time I like to stir occasionally, check my email, do laundry, etc. But keep in mind that you are COOKING. Don’t abandon your oranges completely or they’ll scorch, especially if you are using a thin metal pot.
During the gentle boil your fruit will start to turn a light yellowish orange and fall apart. This is good!
After 40 minutes, feel free to spice things up by adding some habanero chili peppers or dried red pepper flakes.
Set a timer for another 30 minutes and partially cover. You’ll keep boiling gently but really keep an eye on it. The fruit is starting to break down a lot now, the peels will start to break. I like to press them against the pan every so often, if they fall apart easily, I know I’m getting close to done. Plus I prefer smaller peel bits in my marmalade.
I know, 40 minutes and another 30 minutes of cooking. You are feeling like this is a long time right? Nope! It’s what gives marmalade it’s deep taste and characteristic darker bright orange color.
After your 30 minute timer goes off, it’s GO TIME. If you’ve added peppers, remove them now.
Add 9 cups of sugar, a little at a time, mixing well. I pre-measure out the 9 cups so I’m not digging around in the sugar bin. Keep the jam boiling and set a timer for 15 minutes, this is what causes the marmalade to thicken- the super rolling boil and the sugar. Towards the end I add the honey. During the last 5-7 minutes of cooking, grab the cold spoons from the freezer and dip them in the marmalade. This is called doing a sheet test. You want the marmalade to come off the spoon in a sheet, not single drops. Drops mean the marmalade is still too liquid-y and needs to keep cooking.
At this point, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, the mixture is at a rolling boil, your stirring often so it doesn’t burn, it’s foaming, but don’t worry. It really does take 15 minutes to gel, sometimes longer. I was at 19 minutes before I got a nice sheet off my spoon. I also keep a thermometer in the pot, 220 degrees is generally when it thickens, but if you are at high or low altitude this temperature will be different. Let the fruit cook, it will foam and that’s ok! If you get overwhelmed and are concerned about burning it, keep in mind that there is NOTHING wrong with marmalade that is slightly runny. It makes excellent marinade for chicken, fish, duck, pork…really anything. Plus of course on top of ice cream and in oatmeal.
Once your fruit has reached gel point, take it off the stove and start filling jars!
If you want to make a creamsicle jam- stir in 2 TBL vanilla bean paste and 2 TBL vanilla vodka to the marmalade. It’s pretty swoon worthy!
You’ll need 1/4 inch headspace, make sure you remove any air bubbles from the jars and wipe the rim of the jar with a damp paper towel. Put the lid and band on the jar, place the jar back in the canner. Once the water starts boiling again, set a timer for 10 minutes to process. Once the timer is done, lift the lid and let the jars set for 5 minutes, then remove and let cool undisturbed. If you have any jars that haven’t sealed, either reprocess or put in the fridge to use within a month.
That’s it! Not too bad right? You can find the original recipe here but buy the book! It’s so good and my copy is well loved and used.
so now you HAVE to make marmalade. And give it to friends! or be a meanie like me & hoard it ;)