Are you participating in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge? This small batch marmalade recipe is just the thing to get you started!
Okay folks. Let’s walk through how to make a batch of marmalade. I’m using a small batch as an example for this post, because marmalade is an energy-intensive preserve and so making a relatively petite batch makes it feel a little less overwhelming.
Whether you’re making a small batch or a large one, marmalade making uses a ratio of 1:1:1. The easiest way to calculate that and ensure that the ingredients stay in consistent relationship to one another is measure by weight. In this batch, I used 1 pound of Seville oranges (about 2 1/2 oranges), 1 pound of sugar (2 cups), and 1 pound of the orange cooking water (also known as 2 cups).
Place the fruit in a saucepan with a lid and add water. Use more than you’ll need to account for evaporation. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the oranges are completely tender and collapse in on themselves (this typically takes between 45-55 minutes).
Turn off the heat and let the oranges cool completely.
Once the oranges are cool enough to handle, remove them from the pot (remembering to save the cooking water). Position a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Cut an orange in half. Hold one half over the sieve and use a spoon to scoop out the interior of the orange into the sieve. Search the pulp in the sieve for any seeds.
Once you’re sure it is seed-free, put the pulp into the bowl with the juices. Repeat this with all the orange halves.
Once all the pulp is in the bowl, it’s time to slice the rinds. Cut each rind half into 4 wedges and then cut those wedges into thin strips. You can cut them as thinly or thickly as you desire. Once all the rind wedges have been sliced, you can either add them to the bowl with the pulp or send them on to the pot in which you will cook the marmalade.
Combine the reserved cooking water with the orange rind slices, orange pulp, and sugar in a saucepan. You’ll notice that I changed saucepans halfway through the making of this batch. I did this because I realized that I was not going to have enough volume in the wider pot to give me a true reading on an instant read thermometer (there’s more detail on using a thermometer to achieve set in this post).
The reason marmalade sets up so well is that the sugar elevates in temperature as you boil the contents of the pot. As it elevates, the sugar begins to thicken and it creates a bond with the natural pectins in the fruit. The fact that oranges also contain a goodly amount of acid also helps with the set.
Once you’ve determined that your marmalade is finished, funnel it into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes (don’t know how to do the boiling water bath process? Read this post). When the time is up, remove the jars from the canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortable handle them, check the seals (more details on checking seals here). Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.
I hope this post helps you feel a little more comfortable with the process of making marmalade. Oh, and one last thing. If you’re struggling to find Seville oranges, using a combination of juicing oranges and lemons creates a similar flavor profile.
- 1 pound Seville oranges
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- Give the oranges a good scrub and place them in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cover them with the water and set the pot on the stove over high heat. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and put the lid on the pot.
- Simmer the oranges for approximately 45-55 until the rinds are tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork. At this point, remove the pot from the heat and let the oranges cool completely.
- When the oranges are cool, remove them from the pot. Measure out 2 cups of the cooking water and reserve it.
- Cut the oranges in half across their mid-section, the way you would a grapefruit. Using a spoon, scoop the interior flesh out into a bowl. Remove the seeds and discard them. Put the seeded pulp into the bowl. Repeat with the remaining halves.
- Once all the pulp is in the bowl, turn your attention to the rinds. Cut each half into 4 wedges and then cut those wedges into thin strips. These can also be added to the bowl.
- Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 half pint jars.
- In a saucepan, combine the reserved cooking water, the orange pulp, the zest ribbons, and sugar. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook at a controlled boil, stirring regularly for 20 to 25 minutes, until the volume in the pot has reduced by about half.
- Monitor the temperature of the cooking fruit using an instant read thermometer. The marmalade is done when it reaches 220F. When it reaches that point, remove the pot from the heat.
- Funnel the marmalade into the prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
- When the time is up, remove the jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortable handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.