How to Make Homemade Onion Marmalade - Easily!

Click here for a PDF print version

Making and canning your own Onion 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!



Optional stuff:

Onion Marmalade Directions

This example shows you how to make Onion Marmalade.  The yield from this recipe is about 5 eight-ounce jars. 

Step 1 - Select the fruit

You can go pick your own Onions!  Otherwise, you will have to go to the grocery store for the onions. The recipe traditionally uses red onions, but I'm partial to Vidalia's.

Pick fresh onions that are not soft, moldy or discolored.

Step 2 - Peel the onionsboiling onions

With your hands rub the onions and remove any loose dry outer skins.  You can then either peel the onions with a knife and cutting board or by immersing them in boiling water then cold water.
To peel onions by immersion, place a few at a time in a wire-mesh basket or strainer, (or lacking those, simply dump them in) into a large pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, then remove and place in cold (preferably icy) water for 30 seconds. Cut a 1/16th-inch slice from the root end, and then remove the peel and 1/16th inch from the other end of the onion. The tough outer layer should slide off easily now.

Step 3 - Slice the onions

Slice the onions 1/4 inch thick and then separate the slices into rings.

Step 4 - 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.

Canning jars

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Step 5 - Measure out the 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 will 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 6 - Saute the onions

Saute the onions cranberries, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar over medium heat until the onions are transparent-looking.

Step 7 - Heat the mixture with the other ingredients (except the sugar)

Combine the onion mixture from the previous step with the 1.5 packets of pectin, grated orange peel, and apple juice in a large pot. Bring it to a boil over medium heat.

Notes about pectin: I usually add about 50% more pectin (just open another pack and adhalf) or else the jam is runnier than I like. With a little practice, you will 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 (in a prepared form like Truvia, it measures same as sugar; if you use another form, you will need do your own conversion) - or Splenda, if you prefer, ; 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! 
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Step 8 - Add the sugar

Once you get a sustained rolling boil, stir in the sugar. Return to a full rolling boil. You must then time it; boiling hard for 1 minute from the time you get a full boil going again.

Step 9 - Fill the jars and put the lid and rings on

Fill them to within 1/4-inch of the top, wipe any spilled jam off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Then put the filled jars into the canner!

This is where the jar tongs come in really handy!

Step 10 - 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 11 - 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 month.  The color darkens over time, but as long as they stay sealed, that's normal and safe, and doesn't affect the flavor.




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:



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 will 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!

Canning books

Canning & Preserving for Dummies
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The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes Paperback

This is THE book on canning!  My grandmother used this book when I was a child.  It tells you in simple instructions how to can almost anything; complete with recipes for jam, jellies, pickles, sauces, canning vegetables, meats, etc.  If it can be canned, this book likely tells you how! Click on the link below for more information and / or to buy (no obligation to buy)

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Summary - Cost of Making Homemade Marmalade - makes 5 jars of 8 oz each*

Item Quantity Cost in 2022 Source Subtotal
Onions 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 5 jars $/dozen 8 oz jars Grocery stores (Publix, Kroger, Safeway, etc.) $3.25
Sugar 4 cups $2.00  Grocery stores (Publix, Kroger, Safeway, etc.) $2.00
Pectin (low sugar, dry) 1 and a half boxes $2.00 per box Grocery stores (Publix, Kroger, Safeway, etc.) $4.00
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) Onion Marmalade recipe!


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