This orange marmalade requires only three ingredients—oranges, lemons, and sugar—to achieve a perfectly balanced sweet English style marmalade. And it’s so easy to pull together. We suspect you’ll never go back to the store-bought stuff again. Here’s how to make it.
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 1 H, 40 M
- Makes about 4 pints
Wash the fruits well and then chop them roughly but thoroughly. You needn’t worry that the pieces are all the same size, just that they’re small enough to give the marmalade a pleasantly chunky texture, 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick or so. Remove and discard any seeds.
Combine the fruit and 4 cups water in a medium nonreactive saucepan with a lid. Bring to a simmer over low heat, then remove the pan from the heat and cover. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
Return the pot to the stove, turn the heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, until the volume is reduced by half and the citrus rinds are tender, 60 to 75 minutes. Stir the pot from time to time and turn the heat down a touch if it looks or smells as though it’s scorching.
Once the fruit is tender, add the sugar a little at a time, stirring all the while, until you’ve added all 4 cups and it has dissolved. Turn the heat up to medium-high and boil until the mixture is thickened, not more than 15 to 25 minutes. When done, it will slide off a spoon in sheets, not droplets, and a spoonful poured onto a cold plate should gel and seem firm.
Transfer to jars, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to a couple weeks. Originally published April 15, 2005.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
Woah, I can make marmalade! Sure this was too good to be true, I put together this easy recipe from navels (2 medium), 1 blood orange (small), 1 lemon. (No fancy Valencia oranges in my grocery!) Skeptical though I was of both my citrus and the simple directions, I roughly chopped, discarding seeds, I boiled, then waited, and boiled again in order to reduce by half, longer than directed. Then I threw in the sugar, boiled till gloopy and slightly heavy when stirring, and spooned into jars (three 8-ounce ball jars were perfect). To my surprise, this marmalade is more balanced, less sweet, better textured than store-bought, and much more aromatic. All around a winner!
I very roughly chopped, paying little attention to size, but the rinds were probably in strips no wider than 1/4 inch. I boiled for more like 1 1/2 hours to reduce by half. This will vary by pan shape and size. No problems with scorching, etc.
I love orange marmalade. Naturally, for the taste test, I recruited a friend who loves it even more than I do. Our verdict: this marmalade is delicious. Full of citrus flavor with lovely bitterness, and appropriately suppressed sweetness, it's wonderful on toast with a layer of rich butter underneath.
We're in the middle of winter now and Valencia oranges, in season in the summer, are not available anywhere so I used navel oranges instead. I cut the fruit into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. We didn't mind the more pronounced bitterness in chunkier marmalade, but thought it had an unpleasant mouthfeel so I'll slice the fruit thinly next time.
As to how long to boil the marmalade to finish, mine passed the "gel-on-a-cold-plate" test after 18 minutes, and when cooled, it was on a stiff side but perfectly spreadable. (I found the "sliding-off-a-spoon-in-sheets" test too ambiguous.) I got 4 1/4 cups, which is just over 2 pints. Did you know that marmalade freezes well? I stashed a couple of jelly jars full in the freezer to enjoy later.
If you're a marmalade lover, hold onto your hat! (Honestly, hold onto your spoons, because this is one of those homemade confections that you just might want to eat straight out of the jar!) No joke, this handmade orange marmalade is perfectly sweet with that tiny bit of bitter flavor that inherently comes with including the citrus peel in the preserve; the small pieces of tender citrus peel are almost like a candied confection. I adore this orange marmalade and can't wait to use it in a number of ways.
I tested it this morning on a toasted sprouted grain bagel with a thin schmear of cream cheese and marmalade—heaven with a cup of Early Grey tea. Other ideas for this marmalade include serving it over homemade ricotta cheese with some toasted sliced almonds; perhaps in Crêpes Suzette, folded into a butter cake batter, or even as a savory glaze for a pork tenderloin, mixed with a touch of soy sauce and ginger. So many appealing options!
I couldn't find Valencia oranges so swapped sweet Cara Cara oranges in instead. I used 1 large Meyer lemon for the lemon component. In Step 1, it is important to cut the washed fruits as small as possible; that way the texture is just right. The size of the chunks of citrus fruits I made were about 1/8 of a inch in size.
After this 25 minutes, I tested a spoonful of the marmalade on a small plate I had chilled in the freezer; it gelled at this point and the fruit was very tender. I did let the marmalade cool to room temp before packaging it into my pint Ball jars.
Overall, a simple recipe for a beloved kitchen staple! I really enjoyed the process of making this orange marmalade almost as much as I enjoyed tasting it.
For cooks who are intimidated by making homemade jam, this recipe is easy to follow and created enough marmalade so to have enough to give a jar to a few friends. If I were to change anything, I would make this jam with less sugar as I found it to be a touch too sweet. However, my kids, who usually do not like marmalade, liked this recipe, so I think the sweetness is an individual choice.
After resting the mixture overnight, I cooked it for 45 minutes on medium-low heat and had no problem with scorching. I stirred it every 10 minutes and had to cook the jam 40 minutes to get it thick enough to fall in sheets. I thought that was a good description.