How to Make Small Batch Marmalade

January 5, 2017(updated on August 30, 2021)

Are you participating in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge? This small batch marmalade recipe is just the thing to get you started!

small batch marmalade yields just four half pints - Food in Jars

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.

one pound Seville oranges for small batch marmalade - Food in Jars

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).

simmered Seville oranges for small batch marmalade - Food in Jars

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.

tender orange insides for small batch marmalade - Food in Jars

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.

sliced Seville oranges for small batch marmalade - Food in Jars

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.

simmering small batch marmalade - Food in Jars

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).

small batch marmalade in jars - Food in Jars

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.

finished small batch marmalade close - Food in Jars

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.

5 from 3 votes

Small Batch Seville Orange Marmalade


  • 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.

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65 thoughts on "How to Make Small Batch Marmalade"

  • Good to know that 1:1:1 ratio! Also, is there a reason you do not blanch the oranges a few times first, before simmering to cook them? Should/would that change for different fruit? I typically make grapefruit or mixed citrus marm and blanche the gfruit because of extreme bitterness (and I *like* it bitter!). Thoughts?

    1. I never even occurred to me to blanch the oranges before simmering them. That’s not a technique I’ve come across in marmalade making in the past.

        1. I am amending this comment! Some navel oranges will work for marmalade. However, you want to steer clear of the ones that are the size of a softball and have a very thick pith layer. One way to tell if an orange is going to have a super thick layer of pith is to look at the skin. If it is very pebbly, changes are good its got more pith. A smoother skin often means a thinner pith layer.

          Nope. Navel oranges don’t work particularly well for marmalade (they often have a VERY thick layer of pith). Ask at your grocery store about thinner skinned varieties. There are some orange varieties developed for juicing rather than peeling and eating.

          1. Hi Marisa–I’m hoping to do your orange ginger marmalade recipe ( and was trying to find out what kind of oranges to get–I see here that you don’t recommend Navel. For that recipe, should I look for Seville oranges as well? Also, I’d like to try scaling that recipe down to a small batch like the one you have above. Should I just use your 1:1:1 rule to do the math and figure it out? Thanks! So excited to try.

            1. Andrea, I think I should have been more specific. Some navel oranges will work for marmalade. You just don’t want to use the ones that are the size of a softball and have super-thick layers of pith. Those won’t give you a good outcome.

              1. Got it! I found some thin-skinned ones 🙂 Whole Foods really disappointed me…the only organic citrus they had were the navel oranges (and I had to pick through those to find the thinnest-skinned ones), lemons, and some grapefruit. All the cool specialty citrus was conventional. I figured I’d try this first to see if I even like marmalade before I invest in ordering from some of the specialty people you’ve mentioned! Thanks for your help…hoping to tune in tonight.

  • Ok I think I got it now, we are scooping out the segments and hopefully leaving the pith. Is that the reason for boiling them whole?

    1. In this technique, you’re using the whole fruit. So you’re not leaving the pith behind. If you read carefully, you’ll see that after you scoop out the interior flesh, you chop the entirety of the rind into slices that then get cooked with the pulp, water, and sugar. The reason for boiling them whole is to soften the fruit to make them easier to break down.

  • Perfect! I love Sevulle orange marmalade but don’t know a lot of people who enjoy the bitterness and it would take me forever to get through a big batch.

  • I tried making marmalade for the first time last year and was absolutely clueless. Needless to say, it did not turn out so well. My local grocery store is having a citrus sale this week so I’m excited to pick some up and try again, now that I’ve got better instructions to guide me!

  • Hurray! My husband has requested a clementine marmalade. I was just coming to your site to look for some general principles to see about proceeding, and here you are with a general recipe!

    Is there anything I need to know unique to clementines before proceeding too much further? Thanks!

  • I just ordered some Meyer lemons and going to try your strawberry lemon marmalade when they arrive. I have never made marmalade, so I am excited to try this and the other challenges. Thank you for doing this!

  • I notice that you are using one piece lids.

    How do you like them? I’m not worried so much about the seal – the button will tell me. But I am concerned that the contents could go off and there would be no way to tell.

    I think I’d be ok with one piece lids on marmalades made with citrus and jellies made with vinegar because of the high acid content. I’m not sure about lower acid foods and anything in a pressure canner.

    What are your thoughts? What are your experiences? Do you use the one piece lids for pressure canning?

    Has anyone else used the one piece lids?

    1. I don’t typically use this approach for meyer lemons, but I imagine it should. You probably wouldn’t need to cook them as long to soften them.

        1. Thanks for leaving this – I was 30 minutes into a batch with meyer lemons when I found your question & Marissa’s answer.

  • Well, I looked it up online. Oranges ripen starting in February and can hold on the tree until peak harvest in May-July. Some as long as October. I’ll ask my parents about their tree but if there are no oranges, I may not be doing marmalade. I’d have to go out and buy organic to make sure no spraying or pesticides. I would rather have used the fruit from my parents’ yard. I do their apricots, figs, nectarines and kumquats when they have them.

    I have made marmalade on my own. A Meyer Lemon Lavender and a Lime Clove Hibiscus. I was hoping to do an orange cardamom this time.

  • Just finished making a beautiful batch of sweet orange marmalade (couldn’t find any Seville oranges in town). Love the whole fruit method! Much simpler and my floor is only a teeny bit sticky.

  • I am not a cook that follows a recipe exactly but in this case I did and the Marmalade turned out perfectly. Now on to Blood Oranges. Thank you.

  • i don’t think i’ve seen a whole fruit method before – looking forward to trying this out. two questions: can this scale? (i have 3 lbs of citrus.) and does the membrane between the segments go right in with all the pulp? thanks!

    1. As long as you keep the ratio in place, you can absolutely scale it. And you do leave the membrane. It dissolves down pretty well.

  • Just checking on the headspace, why is it 1/2″ rather than 1/4″ like other jams/jellies? I am going to try this with some clementines and some Meyer lemons. 🙂

  • I just made this with Meyer lemons. How do I do the challenge? It tuned out well. Sweet and a bit bitter….very nice.

  • Thank you Marisa for this post – Yesterday I made my first Marmalade! Your instructions are always wonderful.

  • Hi Marissa,

    I’ve been receiving varied grapefruit in my Imperfect Produce deliveries. One is really yellow, another has remained green. (May not be a typical grapefruit or perhaps something else altogether?)

    Anyway I’m planning to try making a small batch using the same sugar ratio.. Will let you know how it goes….

    1. The green one is probably a pomelo rather than a grapefruit. They’re not the greatest for marmalade because they have a really thick pith layer.

  • Question: The orange segments didn’t break down and are big lumps in the marmalade. Was that expected?

    This was my first attempt at canning. I used Jaffa oranges which are almost seedless.
    My jam sat at 215 F for a long time and then suddenly jumped to over 225. I ended up with an extremely thick jam. I’ll eat it but not share it. Still, I’m excited that the jars all sealed.

    Thanks for getting me excited about learning a new skill.

    1. Were you stirring during the cooking process? That’s typically enough to break apart the orange segments. I will often work the big clumps with a spoon as the marmalade cooks to ensure that they break apart. It’s surprising that your marmalade jumped in temperature so quickly, but it could have been that the probe was sitting in a cooler spot and then got jostled into a warmer one.

  • I only gently stirred it from time to time. I’ll do it more next time.
    I used a fast reading thermapen instead of attaching a thermometer. Is that an issue? I have them but I’ve been beguiled by my shiny new toy.

    1. You want to stir pretty regularly with a product like marmalade, to help the product cook down and to prevent hot spots. The only reason you might have had issues with the thermapen is if it wasn’t inserted far enough into the product.

  • I tried this recipe for the first time for the January challenge and became kind of obsessed with making marmalade! I have a couple batches that turned out more of a compote in texture. Is there any harm to opening them to reduce further and reseal? Also, I had great luck with my seals, but in just one of the jars the content appeared to be boiling when I pulled it out of the water and continued to do so on the counter for a while. It appears sealed, but since none of the other ones seemed like they were boiling I’m wondering if that is a problem? Thanks so much. I’m super excited to see what each month’s theme is going to be!

  • Is it possible to reduce the sugar ratio – I prefer more fruit to sugar both from a sweetness and more importantly textural perspective. Does it in effect become a spread and not marmalade.
    Commercially made marmalade in Australia average 20% fruit – European product tends higher and have located product with 55% fruit and tends to be expensive.
    Comments would be appreciated.

  • I’m excited to make this recipe, I’ve never made marmalade before. I was just about to add the cooking water and noticed that it says 2 cups in two places in the recipe, but just under where it says to Print it, it says 4 cups water. It also printed with that. I had 2 cups in my head so I’m glad I noticed that before adding the 4 cups on the printout. Love your recipes! I can’t wait to make the strawberry-Meyer lemon jam again.

    1. You want to start with four cups of water at the beginning of cooking to ensure that you have a full two cups to use once the fruit is soft.

  • I just used Meyer lemons and while the consistency was fine, the taste was quite bitter. Maybe that’s a given of marmalade. I hope the taste will improve once it’s cool. Maybe next time I’ll stick to the strawberry with Meyer lemon flavoring in it.

    1. Marmalade is almost always bitter, particularly if you use the whole fruit. Perhaps try it in situations where you can dilute the flavor, like as a glaze.

  • I was expecting it to be super sweet like lemon curd so when it wasn’t, I was surprised. It was better the next time I tried it because I wasn’t expecting it to be super sweet, so I kept some.
    An English friend was very happy to take the rest of the marmalade off my hands. And another friend who doesn’t have lemons growing in her area has requested it! I think I might make a small batch for her and send it to her, since I can’t send her the whole fruit.* My lemon tree is just about finished for the season.

    *California and Florida (and probably most other states) have a ban on moving citrus plants and fruit because of the very contagious Citrus Greening Disease, which is killing citrus plants and decimating the Florida orange industry. They have just discovered an Australian finger lime citrus that is resistant but it will take years before they are able to turn that into some kind of defense for the other citrus tress. Meanwhile, don’t trade fruit, scions, or plants outside your area. Just FYI. Here’s a link for more info:

  • Made clementine marmalade following your recipe to the letter. Turned out great! I am freezing it so I skipped the water bath. I love the flavor and the color. My neighbor just gave me some beautiful oranges from her tree, so I will make a double batch scaling up your recipe, and share with her. Thank you!

  • I had two tangelos that were too sour to enjoy so I turned them into marmalade using this recipe. I have fiddled with marmalade recipes for many years and this is the easiest and best I have tried. This may be the best marmalade I have ever tasted, let alone made. It’s a tad loose, so I will tinker with the final temp next time. But I prefer loose to the texture of dried rubber cement so that’s ok. Two tangelos yielded about a pint and a half of marmalade. I didn’t bother processing this batch in a hot water bath because it’s not going to last long. I usually give a fresh batch of marmalade a few weeks to mellow, but I can see that’s not going to happen this time!

  • Tripled the recipe this time with clementines (Cuties) and made 7 half pint jars. It tastes sooooo good!
    Thank you so much for demystifying water bath canning! I plan to process my cranberry pepper jelly this year rather than freezing it, as frozen jams are not very easy to pack in a gift box 😉

  • 5 stars
    Hi Marissa,

    I have a few pounds of Seville oranges and was wondering if I could use the method of marmalade making described in your Blood orange marmalade post ( slicing the oranges whole and soaking them in water for 24 hrs). Have you made seville marmalade that way and is there anything particular to watch for. Thanks.

    1. I find that using the slice and soak method with Seville oranges makes a marmalade that’s a bit chewy, but you can certainly do it.

  • 5 stars
    Made this great recipe again using Cuties, but the fruit and resulting marmalade was was really bitter this time.

    I tried a second batch, using no peel and substituting commercial orange juice for the boiling liquid. It is better, but still has an underlying bitterness.

    So disappointed – NOT in your recipe, because it was phenomenal the last 2 times I made it – but in this batch of fruit.

    I hope it is safe to use the orange juice – I can’t imagine why it would be a problem, can you? I processed the batch for 10 minutes in the water bath and then let cool in the water an additional 5 minutes.

  • Hi Marisa,
    We just made a batch of “small batch marmalade” with regular oranges. We are sad to say that the resulting marmalade is very very bitter. We tasted the water that the oranges cooked in and it too is very bitter. Maybe we should have tasted the water first before using it in the marmalade? Is that water meant to be exceedingly bitter? Any advice to fix the batch or to do better next time? Thanks