Note: this is a reblog – I did it a year ago (2014), but this year I found a tweak that really helps things…..

I am inspired to  make marmalade.

I’ve resisted so far – its not exactly the healthiest jam out there – 9 lbs of sugar to 2 lbs of Seville oranges in the 1906 Reliable Cookery book.

Marmalade recipe  - Lawrie

A few weeks ago, Laura (Cottage Country North jams) came out with a whiskey marmalade that was truly wonderful. Traditional, yet the whiskey added wonderful body and complexity to it. That was one thing. It got me thinking about it.

Next, I was in at my food coop and saw they have Seville oranges! Ok. That did it.

But if I was going to do this, I was going to do it traditionally.  I was, however, not going to get myself into the bother that I remember my dad having, with huge muslin bags and the like. (Of course down below you will see that I was delighted to find I had such a bag.)

Next – a recipe: the one above is one option. I like the soak for a day part. I can see that as being like a slow soup. But what happens to the skins?

Lets fast forward to the present and see what the internet offers up: first – a blogger who seems to have gone through a similar process I am now going through.

First on the google search is this one: If I do this I will double it.

This too is interesting:

Finally a book I have around “Jams and Preserves” by Gina Steer: It also has the cheesecloth bag but more orange and less sugar than the old recipe.

I’ve sufficient jars for 4 litres of product.

Jan 22 2014:

I have now slotted the 5 recipes onto a spreadsheet to compare them. I’ve converted everything to a gram weight, as I want to see how the ratios differ one to the other.

Here is an image of my table for the 5 recipes:

oranges seville G 900 1 2000 1.0 908 1 908 1 1543 1
lemons G 0 0.0 680 0.3 170 0.2 340 0.4 340 0.2
other 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 400 0.4 0 0.0
water L 3000 3.3 4000 2.0 2250 2.5 3420 3.8 6000 3.9
sugar 1800 2.0 2725 1.4 1815 2.0 4086 4.5 2724 1.8
total weight before boiling 5700 9405 5143 9154 10607

They really are quite different – both in ratio (sugar to fruit) and in process – though all have a muslin bag for pips & pectin, all dissolve the sugar before it boils, all reduce the syrup, none use pectin beyond the natural pectin in the seeds, all have the same test for doneness. Canning in a water bath does not seem to be required either.

First lets deal with the proportion ratios. These go from oranges:sugar – 1:1.4 to 1:4.5. Taking the outliers out the range is between 1.8 – 2.0. I think I will settle for a ratio of 1 part seville orange to 2 parts sugar.

For the water, the ratios range from between 1:2 (orange to water) to 1:3.9. One of them says “enough water to cover them.” I’m inclined to go with a ratio of 2.5 parts water to one of oranges. One of the recipes    – uses this and also the 2:1 ratio. Its also the most detailed.  It also uses 1 lemon so I will try this too.

Looking at how many oranges I got, I should get about 8 litres! Yikes! (I’ve tried to account for the water being boiled away by a factor of a half, and that sugar shrinks considerably in volume.

Well  – lets be optimistic: 2l regular, 2l whisky, 2l brandy 2l….???? At least I ought to get more jars.

Next consideration: the fruit preparation. In all cases, the skin and pits are separated from the juice. I think on second thought, I will just do half the oranges. I’ll do a separate batch and hopefully learn from the first.

OK  – lets do this!!

So first…. quarter and peel the oranges – there are about 7 of them – 1480 grams.

Here’s the big 2015 tweak: Use a juicer – something that separates juice from the seeds and fiber. I still peeled the oranges though. 

Set up a bowl for peels and seeds, and a bowl for juice.



Next, I used the shredding blade on the food processor to shred the peels. These pics are from the first batch. For my second batch I just cut the peels into big chunks and threw them in the bag.  In the end, I do not believe it is necessary to even separate the seeds from the pulp. It can all go in the same bag. Cutting them into big chunks makes it easy to control for the amount and thickness of the pulp shards you put in the final product.


The juice was blended. Blending is important. It breaks up the more fibrous parts of the meat giving a silkier texture in the jam. IMG-20140122-00192

I found a great cheesecloth sleeve, tied one end of it and put all the peels in it. In a separate bag I put all the seeds.IMG-20140122-00194

Then I added the water  – 2.5 the weight of the oranges.


Now a long simmer without the sugar. It was something of an error in timing but what happened at this stage was that I had it on this long simmer for about 10 hours. It was NOT boiling  – there seemed to be very little activity, but at the end of the 10 hours, it had reduced considerably and I realized – “this is it!” IMG-20140122-00196

The idea of a very long slow barely simmer is mine. Partly in error, partly inspiration from the recipe advising it be soaked. Although its the only way I have tried it, I believe this is the reason that the final result is so wonderfully deep dark and complex.

The Fast Boil and reaching the sweet ‘set point’

Now time for the final boil and jarring. First step: remove the bags from the soup and squeeze out every last bit of juice. Next add the sugar.  My research suggested I use twice the weight of sugar per weight of whole oranges. So in that went. Now here is an important point. The sugar has to completely dissolve before the fast boil starts. So put the burner on low, stir it around until the sugar dissolves, and then…  and all recipes agree this is where you do a fast boil.

As it was boiling I checked the bag of skins as I wanted to get little shards of pulp to add texture to the final product. I did not want too much – just enough to announce their presence.

The marmalade has to boil until it reaches its set point. To ascertain this, take a plate and after about 10-15 minutes of fast boiling, put a spoonful on the plate. Drag the spoon through it and observe what happens. If the jam closes around the spoon, its not set. If it crinkles up and does not close the track the spoon makes, its at its set point, and can be placed in jars. A further 2015 refinement: use a candy thermometer. It should be at about 220 to set if you have done everything else. IMG-20140124-00200 IMG-20140123-00198 

Making a flavored marmalade.

The final part in the process was the flavorings. I had earlier said I was initially excited about making this after tasting ‘Whiskey Jack’ marmalade. I also know from my other cooking adventures that often the taste you want to highlight in a recipe is added right at the end, otherwise it gets lost, especially in a long slow cook. Besides, its a lot easier to have one big batch all the same and siphon of smaller quantities for their special treatment.

So I went to the cupboard to see what struck my fancy: In addition to plain, ‘no extras’ ‘old fashioned’ marmalade, I decided to do scotch, bourbon, Grand Marnier, Tequila and ginger. But how much? I wanted enough so that it added body and complexity, yet not enough that the liquor could be tasted. Using a 500ml measuring cup, I scooped out half a litre, poured it in another pot, and added 50ml of whatever liquor, giving me a 10% mix. Tasted it. In the case of the scotch, it was too strong, so I added another 250ml of marmalade resulting in a 7.5% mix. Much better. In the end, the Tequila and Grand Marnier worked out well at 10%, while the scotch, and bourbon worked better at 7.5%.IMG-20140124-00199

As for the ginger, I made up a ginger syrup: a big chunk of thin sliced ginger, a couple pf pinches of salt, 2-3 heaping spoons of sugar. Let it sit for a couple of hours (yes this is to be done well ahead of the final boil!) until it yields a dark, sweet highly potent ginger syrup.


As for canning them, I did boil the jars, but I have not canned them. That amount of sugar is more likely to turn them to alcohol than to mold. Besides, I’ve had many a jar of what my parents used to make months after it had been opened, and it was all fine.  Many recipes suggest wax disks poured on top once they are cooled. The idea is to keep air from interacting. I will take my chances  – you do what you feel is best!

The final recipe:


Seville oranges (weight =y) Seville oranges weigh approximately 200g each. The final quantity of marmalade will be approximately 2.5 times in volume what the oranges weight in kilos. Thus for a 1.2 kilo weight of oranges (6 oranges), I made over 3L of marmalade.

Water (weight = 2.5y)

Sugar (weight= 2y)


  1. Peel the oranges, and separate seeds and peel from the juice. Cut the peel into big chunks.
  2. Place the seeds and peel in a cheesecloth bag.
  3. fill a large pot (10 litre pot for about 6 oranges is good) with the juices, orange meat, and water. Tie the cheesecloth bag inside the pot so it is infusing in the juice. Set on a stovetop at the lowest possible heat, with NO lid, overnight (or all  day).
  4. Once the stew has reduced by 1/3-1/2, turn it off and let it cool down for a few hours.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare your jars. My preference is the 125ml and 250ml sizes. Either boil them or heat them in a 350 degree oven.
  6. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the cheesecloth bag into the juice.
  7. Add the sugar, turn the heat to low and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Turn the heat to medium high. stir constantly, adjusting heat, stirring so it does not boil over. Take a plate and test for the set point every 10 minutes or so. Let the jam cool on the plate, then run the tip of your spoon through it. It is ‘set’ when the skin crinkles, and it does not backfill the track made by the spoon.
  8. Flavoring: your choice! Start at 10% (50ml flavour to 500ml marmalade). Once it is right, bring to a boil for a few seconds, take it off the boil and jar it.



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