How to Make Homemade Orange Marmalade - Easily!

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Making and canning your own orange marmalade is also quite easy. Here's how to do it, in easy steps and completely illustrated. If your looking for a jam recipe and directions, click here! We also have directions to make applesauce, apple butter, pickles and others!

Ingredients and Equipment

  • Fruit - 8 whole oranges, thinly sliced (4 cups cut)
    3 whole lemons, thinly sliced (1 cups cut)
  • Orange juice or Water - 4 cups of either. I use orange juice instead of water, for extra flavor.
  • Sugar - about 4 cups of dry, granulated (table) sugar
  • Pectin - 2 packages (boxes usually) or if you get it in bulk, 12 Tablespoons, see the directions below for specifics - (it's a natural product,  made from apples and available at grocery stores (season - spring through late summer) and local "big box" stores. It usually goes for about $2.00 to $2.50 per box.  See here for more information about how to choose the type of pectin to use.
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars) - Big box stores and grocery stores sometimes carry them; and it is available online - see this page. It's a tremendously useful to put jars in the canner and take the hot jars out (without scalding yourself!).  The kit sold below has everything you need, and at a pretty good price:
  • Jar funnel ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page) or order it as part of the kit with the jar grabber.
  • At least 1 large pot; I prefer 16 to 20 quart Teflon lined pots for easy cleanup.
  • Large spoons and ladles
  • 1 Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.).  Note: we sell canners and supplies here, too - at excellent prices - and it helps support this web site!
  • Ball jars (Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger, Safeway carry them, as do some big box stores - about $8 per dozen quart jars including the lids and rings)
  • Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar.  They may only be used once.
  • Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars.  They may be reused many times.

 

Optional stuff:

  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at big box stores or it comes in the kit at left)

 

 

Orange Marmalade Directions

This example shows you how to make orange marmalade.  The yield from this recipe is about 18 eight-ounce jars (which is the same as 9 pints).  I'll explain both the way to make traditional orange marmalade (which in my opinion has a bitter edge to it) and an orange marmalade without the bitterness.

Step 1 - Select the fruit

If you are lucky enough to live in Florida or southern California you can go pick your own Oranges in January and February!  Otherwise, you'll have to go to the grocery store for the oranges and lemons.

Pick fresh oranges and lemons that are not soft, moldy or discolored.

 

Step 2 - Wash the fruit

I'm sure you can figure out how to wash the fruit in plain cold water.

 

Step 3 - Get the jars and lids washed

The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle; you don't really have to sanitize the jars - the boiling water bath sanitizes everything, jar, lid, contents and all; but you DO want to get the jars as clean as you can first.  I get the dishwasher going while I'm preparing everything else, so the jars are clean and hot (and less likely to crack when you put boiling hot fruit in them)  by the time I'm ready to fill the jars.

Lids:  Put the lids into a pan of hot water for at least several minutes; to soften up the gummed surface and clean the lids.

 

   

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Step 4 -Remove the outer part of the peel

Take a look at Step 10 - if you are going to use method 10a, then with a vegetable peeler, remove only the colored part of the peel and set it aside. This outer portion of the peel is what give marmalade its bitter taste. If you like it, chop it finely and set it aside for now.

If you don't like the bitterness, then you are going to use the method Step 10b, so just then just peel the fruit with your hands as shown in step 5 (and skip step 4)

 

Step 5 -Remove the remaining rind

Using your fingers, peel off the remaining white portion of the rind, discard this - it is a tasteless and spongy.

 

 

Step 6 -Slice the oranges and lemons in half

 

Cut the fruit in half, across the segments, as shown. 

 

 

 

 

 

The tough, white part in the center must be cut out and discarded - it's too tough and tasteless to leave in!

The easiest way to remove it is with a pair of scissors; just snip it out.

Save any juice that leaks out!

 

 

Step 7 - Chop the oranges and lemons

 

Next, slice the two halves into thin slices

 

 

 

And then chop the slices up a bit! Remove and discard any seeds or tough parts of the orange that you find in the process.

 

Continue to save any juice that leaks out!

 

Step 8 - Measure out the sugar

You'll need to follow the directions that come with the pectin, but generally, the lower sugar pectin recipes call for about 4 cups of sugar per box, and the regular pectin calls for 7 cups of sugar.

Mix the dry pectin with about 1/4 cup of sugar and Keep this separate from the rest of the sugar. If you are not using sugar, you'll just have to stir more vigorously to prevent the pectin from clumping.

Note: you can also add some spice at this point, if you like!  Some people add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger or cloves.  Purists add none of these!

Step 9 - Mix the chopped oranges with the pectin

Stir the pectin into the chopped fruit. Put the mix in a big pot and set aside for a moment.

Notes about pectin: For marmalade (which is difficult to get to set) I usually add about 50% - 100% more pectin (just open another pack and add a little) or else the jam is runnier than I like. With a little practice, you'll find out exactly how much pectin to get the thickness you like. 

Another tip: use the low sugar pectin.  It cuts the amount of sugar you need from 7 cups per batch to 4 cups!  And it tastes even better!  On the other hand; I have never had success with the No-sugar pectin.  It always turned out runny and bland.  You might want to try using the low sugar recipe with a mixture of sugar and Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda); that could work.

Is your jam too runny? Pectin enables you to turn out perfectly set jam every time.  Made from natural apples, there are also low-sugar pectins that allow you  to reduce the sugar you add by almost half! 
Get them all here at the best prices on the internet!

 

 

Step 10 -Cook the fruit - With Peels or Not?

Peels add the characteristic bitterness to marmalade, but some people do not like marmalade BECAUSE it is bitter - so here are both ways to make it (do one OR the other):

Step 10a - With the Peels:

If you want the characteristic bitter taste of marmalade, put the peels, use 2 cups of the original 4 cups of water or orange juice (for a richer flavor) and 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda in a saucepan.

Bring the mix to a boil.  Cover it, turn down the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the chopped fruit, the remaining 2 cups of juice and simmer for 10 minutes more.

Step 10b - Without the peels

If you want a less bitter taste, skip the preceding  and instead place the chopped fruit and 4 cups of water or orange juice in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes

Step 11 - Add the sugar and return to a boil

Add the sugar and bring the mixture back to a full boil. 

Step 12 - Bring the mixture to a full boil

Stir the mix and bring it to a full boil, hard, for one minute.

 

Step 13 - Fill the jars and put the lid and rings on

Fill them to within -inch of the top, wipe any spilled jam off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Then put them into the boiling water canner!

This is where the jar tongs come in really handy!

 

Step 14 - Process the jars in the boiling water bath

Keep the jars covered with at least 2 inches of water. Keep the water boiling. Boil them for at 15 minutes.

Note: Some people don't even boil the jars; they just ladle it hot into hot jars, put the lids and rings on and invert them, but putting the jars in the boiling water bath REALLY helps to reduce spoilage! To me, it makes little sense to put all the working into making the jam and then not to process the jars to be sure they don't spoil!

 

Step 15 - Done

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight)  You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.

It may take up to two weeks for the marmalade to set and thicken up. It will be runny until then!

Once cooled, they're ready to store.   I find they last about 18 months.  After that, the get darker in color and start to get runny. They still seem safe to eat, but the flavor is bland.  So eat them in the first 12 to 18 months after you prepare them!

Other Equipment:

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs 
            to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter 
            - to remove lids from the pot 
            of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lid 
           - disposable - you may only 
           use them once
  4. Ring 
          - holds the lids on the jar until after
          the jars cool - then you don't need them
  5. Canning jar funnel
          - to fill the jars

 

You can get all of the tools in a kit here:

 

   
Ball home canning kit water bath canner

Home Canning Kits

This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer, and the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. You'll never need anything else except jars & lids (and the jars are reusable)! There is also a simple kit with just the canner and rack, and a pressure canner, if you want to do vegetables (other than tomatoes). To see more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!
 


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Summary - Cost of Making Homemade Marmalade - makes 10 jars of 8 oz each*

Item Quantity Cost in 2005 Source Subtotal
Oranges 8 medium or large sized $2.00 Grocery store $2.00
Lemons 2 $1.00 Grocery Store $1.00
Canning jars (8 oz size), includes lids and rings 10 jars $6.50/dozen Grocery stores (Publix, Kroger, Safeway, etc.) $5.50
Sugar 4 cups $2.00  Grocery stores (Publix, Kroger, Safeway, etc.) $2.00
Pectin (low sugar, dry) 1 and a third boxes $2.00 per box Grocery stores (Publix, Kroger, Safeway, etc.) $2.70
Total $13.20 total
 or about  $1.32 per jar

* - This assumes you already have the pots, pans, ladles, and reusable equipment. Note that you can reuse the jars!  Many products are sold in jars that will take the lids and rings for canning.  For example, Classico Spaghetti sauce is in quart sized jars that work with Ball and Kerr lids and rings. Note that the Classico's manufacturer does not recommend reuse of their jars: see what they have to say on this page:

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Answers to Common Questions

If you want to learn how NOT to make marmalade, read this entertaining account from this Australian woman who is either incredibly cheap or a slow learner... but either way, it's a funny story!

And if our recipe is too EASY for you and you would like a much more complicated approach that will take about 4 hours to complete, try Delia Smith's (a cook who is famous in the UK) orange marmalade recipe!

 

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