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.

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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!

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    23 Discussions


    3 years ago

    The British love home made marmalade and sometimes even decide on which hotel / B&B they will stay at based on if it is offered as part of the breakfast selection. Methods to make marmalade vary so check out a selection of recipes and techniques until you find one that suits you best.


    I have two problems where I live. Firstly seville oranges are very hard to come by. My solution is to include a hight proportion of lemons in the mixture.

    Secondly, most citrus fruit are treated chemically against mould. I have heard soaking them in hot water for a couple of minutes can get rid of it. Anyone know how effective that is?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you so much! I actually had the idea for this instructable this morning, but I wanted a lime marmalade, as they are my favorite fruit.

    1 reply

    Glad it may be of help. It's quite easy to make.

    I believe all citrus fruit have lots of pectin (the jelly-like protein that sets jam) in their skins, and that as far as I can tell from Googling, this would include limes.

    You could a few of the Thai Kaffir limes if you can get hold of them. they have a superb fragrance. This is the fruit from the same tree as the limes leaves used in Thai cooking.

    If you get it to work, post an Instructable - Good luck!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great recipe and worked great with a touch of single malt! Especially useful for me as I have two Sevilana organge trees in my back garden, along with two navel orange trees and a couple of Meyer lemon trees (I live in Southern California) and the bumper crop of fruit often gets wasted.

    One caution, though. For older folks on statins (for cholesterol control), DO NOT use grapefruit without carefully reading the labels that come with your medicine. I just use 10 Sevillanas, 2 navels, and four lemos.

    Thanks again for a great instructable.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the kind words. The malt idea was mentioned by piperjohn below. It's great to see you have tried this out - it sounds delicious.

    I didn't know that about statins and grapefruit. interesting

    you should try alcoholic lemonade/orangeade if you have lots of fruit!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    It looks a little like the traditional sweets that we make in Greece and we eat with the tea spoon. But i would easily use it with some bread really delicious thanks for sharing !

    1 reply

    8 years ago on Step 11

    So, you're not actually processing this recipe in a bath canner- you're making marmalade and putting it straight into the fridge. Am I correct?

    BTW- looks fantastic.

    1 reply

    Hi There.

    no bath canner. I don't even bother putting it in the fridge unless I have opened the jar. As long as it was sealed when piping hot, I find it will keep fine.

    Thanks for the kind words too. I put a torch behind it to show off the lovely colour. It was so delicious-looking, it got its own photo shoot!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Now THAT is a thing of beauty! Brilliant!

    If one were to add, say, a little bit of single malt, or perhaps some bourbon, do you have suggestions on how much would be appropriate to add the flavor without adding too much, which could crash the pectin from setting? Not that there's anything wrong with marmalade sauce, mind you, but it's hard to keep it on the toast.

    I've had "single malt orange marmalade" and I thought I was in heaven...

    Wonderful 'ible, keep up the great work! - Pj

    3 replies

    That sounds good. Malt would be in keeping as marmalade has a Scottish connection, but bourbon would work.

    I have not done this, but I would suggest that it is added right at the end after the set point has been reached, while the mixture is cooled a bit but still reasonably warm.
    If you add earlier you will undoubtedly lose the whisky aroma and any alcohol will be boiled off. If you add when warm it will mix in easily. Adding it will just mean the jelly of the marmalade is slightly diluted and would be slightly thinner. You c ould compensate by boiling it for a little longer, but doubt it is required. It is similar to the classic vodka jelly ice cubes that you can make with pudding jelly (jello in the USA).

    Don't leave it till the mix is really cooling or it will be setting and it will not mix in properly because of the pectin jelly.

    You can actually do this with commercial marmalade if you want to try it. just take it out of the jar and warm up in a double boiler or microwave, then try out the whisky

    Good luck

    Ah! You know, I'd never really thought of the idea of simply melting marmalade in a microwave and adding single malt. Hm! That would definitely give me the idea of just how much I would want without possibly sabotaging a whole batch of homemade good stuff, eh?

    Lovely, lovely, lovely! Thanks heaps! - Pj

    Glad to help.
    I nicked the idea of my dad who has been known to acquire the odd catering size tin of marmalade, then pep it up with other things.


    "Scruffy's going to die the way he lived ::Explosion:: Oh Marmalade!"

    Yay Futurama

    Yay Marmalade! Def an awesome Instructable!

    If you are planning to keep these for a "very long time", then it's safest to process these in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. And use proper canning jars.

    1 reply

    Hi. thanks for feedback.

    I agree that water baths are pretty good. This is definitely the best for the parts that are rubber such as ring seals for preserving jars, or in domestic jars, the rubber inside the steel lids. The advantage of using a water bath is that it avoids any risk of burning the rubber.

    I washed my lids in hot (80 degrees C) water and this is adequate for my puposes. Traditionally a decent high-sugar jam is only covered with wax paper and string and this keeps for months, so I wouldn't consider it crucial. With marmalade the essential oils from the skin act as a further preservative too. In addition, it all gets eaten within too short a time to worry about this.

    Personally I also don't bother with water baths mainly because I don't one and can't be bothered to set one up on the stove. It is much easier to use an oven and for the glass jars it is just as effective. In fact a low oven is actually hotter than a water bath (130 degrees C at gas mark half, compared to 100C in boiling water).

    The other advantage is that the jars are dry when you fill them.

    It is great to hear other approaches. Thanks for taking the time to comment