Top 10 tips for making marmalade

Clare Hargreaves helped judge the World's Original Marmalade Awards and asked her fellow judges to share their tips on what makes a world-class marmalade. Seville oranges came up trumps but they had plenty more tips to share...

What the experts say:

Seville orange marmaladeSource the best Sevilles

Ivan Day, food historian: Sevilles suitable for marmalade come in from Spain and vary a lot in quality. A poor batch of oranges can mean a poor batch of marmalade. If you live in a city with lots of greengrocers, take the time to shop around and compare the produce. Make sure the oranges are free from blemishes and if possible buy organic which ensures their skins are free from chemicals too.

Get in the mood

Sarah Randell, food director Sainsbury's Magazine: Always make marmalade when you're in the mood. Don't rush the process and enjoy the ritual.

Keep it Simple

Phil Mumby, speciality consultant for Ringtons Tea and Fortnum & Mason: Don't try to 'improve' a marmalade by adding 'exotic' ingredients, like chilli or cardamom, that can distract you from the wonderful taste of Seville oranges.

Marmalade on toastShredded not diced - and make them meaty

Jonathan Miller, preserves buyer for Fortnum & Mason: When someone dices rather than shreds you wonder what they're trying to hide, and you get a cloudy marmalade. Shreds look far nicer. But don't make the shreds too fine - cut them medium to chunky to give your marmalade texture when you bite into it. You're not after orange jelly, but something with character and body. When slicing your peel, use a sharp knife - you don't want the job to take longer than it needs to.

Soften your peel properly

Walter Scott, joint managing director of Wilkin & Sons (Tiptree): One of the most common mistakes people make is not to soften their peel properly which makes the marmalade hard work to eat. Cooking the peel is also important to release pectin which helps your marmalade set. Once sugar is added the peel won't soften further, so the best way to make sure it softens is to cook the oranges on their own first - we simmer them in water for at least four hours the day before, but at home you probably only need to simmer them for around two hours. The following day add the sugar and make up the marmalade.

Dissolve your sugar then leave it alone

Pam Corbin, preserving expert and former owner of Thursday Cottage, marmalade and jam makers: After adding sugar to the oranges, stir the mixture over a gentle heat to ensure it's completely dissolved before it starts to boil. Once it's reached a rolling boil, disturb it as little as possible.

Lemon marmaladeListen to your marmalade

Jane Hasell-McCosh, World's Original Marmalade Awards founder: When the mass of foaming bubbles subsides to a slow relaxed boil, that's when your marmalade should have reached setting point.

Don't overcook your marmalade

Lady Claire Macdonald, food writer: While you're testing your marmalade to see if it's set, take it off the boil. Otherwise you risk boiling away the water content, and ending up with a dark, over-thick marmalade that's dry and rubbery.

Cool before potting - but not too much

Pam Corbin: Allow your marmalade to cool and relax before potting. This allows the mixture to thicken slightly so that the peel, when potted, remains evenly distributed throughout the jar. However the marmalade should still be above 85ºC to kill any mould spores. Once potted put the lids on as quickly as possible to create a vacuum.

Freeze your Sevilles, but not too ripe

Walter Scott: By all means freeze Seville oranges to make marmalade later in the year. But make sure they're not overripe - if you freeze overripe ones you'll get black oranges when you cook them.

 

Cook up your own delicious batch with Good Food's recipe for Seville marmalade.
Then use it in these delicious recipes.

Let us know your marmalade-making tips below...

 

Comments, questions and tips

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Comments (2)

lisakermode's picture

Hello and good morning, I'm making a 5 citrus marmalade, which is delicious BTW, I followed the recipe to a tee, but of course I've doubled it as well, it is runny, so i need to boil the marmalade a little longer to set? does it set on its own after time, or do i need to put back in the pot and boil it again with more pectin? thank you and have a good day

meglongman's picture

I added 3/4 of my sugar and dissolved it, then left it overnight. In the morning it looked as if it had reached setting point without being brought to boiling point but I added the rest of the sugar and more lemon juice, brought it to the boil and unfortunately within minutes when I had been called away, it boiled over. I turned it off and it still passed the setting point tests. It has a lovely colour and the fruit is distributed properly but it is runny. What should I do? I am worried if I re-boil it, it will go over setting point. Advice would be very welcome.

Questions (5)

lisakermode's picture

Can you boil pass the setting point as well ? i hope not , please tell me you can't , wishfully thinking ,

Katie Lambe's picture

Just made this seville orange marmalade for the first time and its delicious - my only problem is the peel has settled mainly in the top half of the jars. I let it cool in the pan for approx 6 minutes before filling the jars.

goodfoodteam's picture

You really can't beat homemade marmalade, the flavour is so much fresher. If the marmalade is set in the jar, it simply sounds as though it was still too warm when it was potted. Next time leave it to settle for longer then stir gently to redistribute the peel before potting. If the marmalade is still a little runny this could be another reason why it rose in the jar. Next time boil it for longer before you pot it. Hope this helps.

foodiesusanna's picture

marmalade too runny, thin; do not want to add more sugar (unless I really have to)...add extra pectin ? with reduced sugar amount ? by the way it is a mixture of blood orange juice and traditional Seville orange marmalade; ratio 1 blood orange / 2 Seville. Total amount 3.7 litres ????

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi foodiesusanna, thanks for your question. Sorry to hear you've not had success with your marmalade. Can you tell us which recipe you were following? It could be that it needs cooking for a little longer. 

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