Citrus season: marmalade!


My cousin Nina is a marmalade queen. All winter, it seemed, she had a pot of marmalade bubbling on the back of her stove.

She inspired me and the boy to make several big batches of the lovely stuff before we left the land of local citrus.

We did four kinds: ponderosa lemon, bitter seville orange, bergamot, and blood orange (left to right in the picture). They taste nothing alike, and they are all incredibly tasty. The lemon is bright and fresh, very thick and pectiny. The seville orange is a classic marmalade, orangey with a sharp edge. The bergamot is incredibly fragrant and strong, with thick, chewy pieces of rind. And the blood orange is sweet and spicy and soft, absolutely amazing on ice cream.

It’s very easy to make marmalade. Here’s my lazy method:

Slice your citrus. (Make the pieces about the size of the chunks of peel you’d like to have in the finished marmalade.)

Take the seeds out as you slice. Put them in a small muslin bag, or tie them up in cheesecloth. (They provide your pectin! If you don’t have many seeds, as sometimes happens with eating-type oranges, add some extra seeds from another citrus.)

Put your citrus and wrapped seeds into a big, nonreactive pot (i.e., stainless steel or enamel).

Add enough water so that the citrus barely starts to float.

Simmer for forty-five minutes or so, until the pieces of peel are done to your liking.

Set aside to cool.

After the mix is cool, remove the seed bag (squeeze out all that lovely slimy pectin first).

Put your marmalade back on medium heat, and start adding sugar. (I do this by eye, and by taste, but the traditional proportions are 1 part each of citrus, water, and sugar, by weight.)

When the marmalade is as sweet as you want, keep it simmering until it reaches the texture you’d like. (To test the gel, drop a bit onto a plate and put it in the freezer for a few minutes to cool it. This will give you a good idea of what the texture will be like when it’s cooled. If you have trouble getting it to gel, you might need more sugar, or just more patience. But I say there’s nothing wrong with soft marmalade — all the better to spoon over ice cream!)

You can use one kind of citrus, or a mix. You can even add ginger like the English do sometimes. Or whatever strikes your fancy.

Have fun!


  1. andrea gutierrez said,

    March 31, 2009 @ 10:58 pm

    oh how i wish i could taste the bergamot and blood orange marmalade. they sound deliciously scrumptious! alas, my darn GERD gets in the way but i think i would like to make them for others to enjoy. thanks for posting!

  2. WildShroom said,

    April 1, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

    Oh, those look so good! Not much fresh citrus in Kansas unfortunately!

  3. Sarah Head said,

    April 2, 2009 @ 7:58 am

    Great to see you back, Rebecca! What proportion of bergamot to blood oranges do you use? I’m tempted to try making this when my plants are flowering. Any ideas on number of fresh stalks to number of oranges?

    You can always add whisky to the classic marmalade mix if you’re looking for something really indulgent on your toast. My parents, now in their 80s, still make their own marmalade twice a year. They whizz all the citrus up in a food processor and then freeze it. This means they can make new batches when they feel like it and not be overwhelmed in January when the seville oranges are available.

  4. crabappleherbs said,

    April 2, 2009 @ 8:17 am

    Thanks, everyone!

    Sarah, the bergamot marmalade is only made of sugar and bergamots (Citrus bergamia, aka “bergamot sour oranges”). This is the bergamot citrus that flavors Earl Grey tea, not the “wild bergamot” in the mint family that I call “bee balm” (Monarda spp.). (The naming confusion happened because someone thought red bee balm — Monarda didyma — smelled like the bergamot citrus.) I do think M. didyma flowers would be amazing in marmalade or jam… maybe in a relatively neutral apple base, to showcase their scent?

    Whisky in marmalade sounds amazing. When do you add it? At the end of cooking?

  5. LB said,

    April 2, 2009 @ 10:27 am

    Welcome back.

  6. treesa said,

    April 2, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

    Oh my goodness, I had no idea you could get pectin from the seeds! I like to save as much money/go as natural as possible, and buying pectin always bothered me… I always wondered how my many-times-great-grandmothers did it, but nobody ever really wrote it down that I’ve found. Thanks so much for sharing! I love the idea of mixing different flavors, especially blood orange and bergamot 🙂

  7. Sarah Head said,

    April 3, 2009 @ 7:08 am

    I’m afraid I’ve never made whiskey marmalade as I’ve always been given it by friends (usually commercial varieties). There’s a recipe here from the BBC Good Food site which says add it when all the cooking has finished and just before you pot it up into jars.

  8. Caddywompass said,

    April 8, 2009 @ 12:34 pm

    This is my first time posting, but I have been checking this sight out for a few weeks now and I am THRILLED with all the info. (I found it when I was looking for a pickled lemon recipe…..which I tried and it is currently in a dark place hiding for a month.)

    I am just starting to learn to can, preserve, although I have been successfuly brewing kombucha for a few years now. Thank you all for the very helpful ideas, tips, encouragement on this site.

  9. Granny Sue said,

    April 10, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

    lovely! thank you for the recipe. I have made marmalade before, but always with store-bought pectin. I want to try this method. My mother loved marmalade and sometimes made it, but she loved to but little squat jars of it in specialty shops and try the different flavors. Such an Englishwoman she was, and marmalade always reminds me of her, and the row of little jars in her fridge.

  10. Faye said,

    April 19, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

    Oh wow! Those marmalades look gorgeous! We just joined an organic produce buying club here in South Florida, and blood oranges were part of the delivery last week. I’m hoping they’ll be part of our first box this coming Tuesday.

    I recently made a batch of preserved salted lemons, using some of your tips, Rebecca. I would love to start making marmalade too!

    Where do you suggest is the best place to buy canning jars and supplies online? We live in the Florida Keys, which is not a shopper’s paradise. I have to resort to buying most things from Amazon, or other sites.

    Thanks for creating such a comprehensive, holistic site, Rebecca!

  11. linda said,

    April 22, 2009 @ 7:01 am

    I had just made my first marmalade out of kumquats and oranges when I found this post. I didn’t know that the seeds help make the pectin! Next time! I am going to make an onion marmalade soon as well.
    Faye, I buy my canning jars in supermarkets seasonally but you can either go to the Ball website (they are a canning company) or Lehmans, both of which I have purchased from online, good reputable companies.

  12. Denny said,

    February 6, 2010 @ 10:49 am

    What a wonderful marmalade!

  13. ellen said,

    December 14, 2010 @ 8:46 am

    Hi Herbwife, if nothing else may I compliment you on your beautiful header photo. It’s quite wonderful. The other photos I found on your site are just as lovely.
    I just purchased a lot of ponderosa lemons at my local farmers market and since I’ve never used them before for marmalade I decided to look up info. Your site was the only one that made sense. Though I’ve been making marmalades, jams, preserves and chutney’s for years this will be my first time using this glorious fruit.
    Thanks for posting your information (and photo) and now I must get canning.
    I will check your site from time to time as I really enjoyed reading past entries.
    Just so you know, Rose Works is the name of my canning enterprise.

  14. Nancy said,

    April 11, 2011 @ 12:24 am

    Hi Herbwife, I have not made marmalade before. Do I need to slice off the peel in advance of slicing the fruit? Should I be minimizing the pith? Or just slice thinly through the whole fruit? Also, can this be frozen once it starts to gell intead of water bathing in canning jars? What do I do if I don’t end up with enough seed pectin? Will the gel just be soft? Your marmalade picture looks so inviting 🙂

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