Introduction: How to Make Marmalade

About: I like making all sorts of stuff, out of found materials: furniture, wild food, whatever! I've learnt loads from generous people out there, so reuse any useful ideas that you find here...

This instructable shows how to make a variation on traditional Scottish (Dundee) style marmalade from scratch. This is easy to do, and allows you to make it how you like. It also works out quite a bit cheaper than buying it if you are bothered about that.

Note, everyone who makes marmalade will have their own trusted method, and preferred flavour. This one works for me, and is thick, tangy and spicy.

It's probably not as frugal a jam as many others because traditionally it is made from Seville oranges, which are not the sort of fruit that you are likely to have a surplus of.  However it is as much fun to do as to eat.

Step 1: Choosing the Fruit

Marmalade is traditionally made from Seville oranges. These have a strong sharp taste and are virtually inedible raw, but are very good for marmalade as they are very easy to peel and are high in pectin, the jelly-like fruit protein that causes jam to set. Seville oranges are seasonal and can normally only be obtained for a short time in January and February.

You can also add other types of oranges. This version used seven Seville oranges, three lemons  and two grapefruit.

Step 2: Washing Jars

One thing that you need to do is get hold of jars.  Any empty household food jars can be used, although be cautious about using ones that have oily food in (like pesto) or vinegary food (like pickle) as these can retain flavours, especially in the rubber seals in the lids.
Wash them, remove the labels (this is easier for some jars than others) and dry them.

Step 3: Peeling the Fruit

There are various ways to peel citrus fruits.  Seville oranges peel easily like a tangerine. Grapefruits are also easy. Lemons vary, but can be hard if the peel is very thin and limes are usually very difficult to peel.

Here the skins has been scored, so that the fruit is not broken underneath, and a spoon used to ease the skin off. This can be used to scrape excess pith off the peel too.

Step 4: Chopping the Peel

Once you have your peel, slice it to the thickness you prefer. You don't have to use all of it, although even if you decide not to include it all in the final marmalade, cook it all, as thi swill give you a better depth of flavour from the oils in the skin.

Step 5: Separating the Juice From the Pulp

Once peeled, you are left with maked pith covered fruit. It is easier to squeeze out the juice with your hand, than try to use a lemon squeezer. Do this over a sieve or fine colandar.

This is quite therapeutic.  If you chop the fruit in half (across the equator so to speak), it stops segments exploding when you throttle them. Do not throw away the pulp, you will need to boil this up to extract the pectin.

Step 6: Boiling the Juice, Peel and Pulp

Once you have squeezed out all the juice, you can add the chopped peel. The rest of the pulp, is also added before boiling the whole lot up. However you need to keep it from getting mixed up with the juice or your marmalade will be full of it.

To prevent the pulp getting in, you need to contain it in a mesh bag. Here a mesh cloth is used, doubled up, and secured with a plastic cable tie. You can get mesh bags in brewing and cooking shops.

Once contained, add 500ml (or just under a pint) of water, and bring to the boil. The whole mixture is then boiled for between 45 minutes to an hour, when the peel will be soft and transluscent. From time to time, squeeze the pulp carefully in the bag (with a wooden spoon) to release the pectin into the mix.

Step 7: Sterilising the Jars in the Oven

While you are boiling, you can heat you jars in a low oven (slow or gas mark 1/2) This will sterilise them.

Step 8: Adding the Sugar

After an hours boiling, remove the bag and set aside to cool. Squeeze what you can out with a spoon over a sieve, but do not try this with your bare hands, as the sticky pulp will retain heat and can burn you. Cooling can take a surprisingly long time, even if left outside.

Once you have squeezed out the sticky juice, you have finished with the pulp and it is not used any more.  This leaves you with a strong flavoured thick juice full of pectin and peel.

At this stage add 1Kg of plain white sugar. If you want the best orange taste, do not use unrefined cane, demerara or brown sugar as these have too strong a flavour and can overpower the orange. Of course if you like it more caramelly, you could add tastier sugars, but I prefer it orangey.

You now boil the mixture.  Make sure all sugar is dissolved before bringing to a hard boil.  Ten minutes should be enough, but this can take longer to reach the point at which it sets. The longer you boil the thicker and darker it will get. 

Step 9: Testing If the Marmalade Is Ready to Set

Keep a plate in the fridge for testing the set of the marmalade.  To test it, take a teaspoonful of it ou and blob onto the cold plate. As it cools, you can see if it is a firm jelly or not. Further boiling will make it thicker. 

Repeat the test every 10 minutes or so, until the marmalade is as thick as you like it. Note it will get darker as it is reduced too.

Step 10: Pouring the Hot Marmalade Into the Jars

Once it is as you like it, pour it into the jars which have been in the oven and are hot. Be careful doing this. Hot marmalade is a little like napalm. it sticks and burns the skin. Have cold water handy or wear (clean) thick washing up gloves.

This can get messy, and you may have to wipe down th jars. Using a thin spoon can be done, or a very wide holed funnel, but this is not essential.

Put the lids on while the marmalade is still hot, and this will create a partial vacuum as it cools. The marmalade will be sterile, and should keep for a very long time.

Step 11: The Finished Marmalade

Glowing orange and bursting with chunky peel. Yum!