Marmalade is my favorite! But most store-bought marmalade is too short on citrus flavor and too high on sugar. Marmalade should be thick with citrus peel and fruit, and have a flavor that is almost to the tart side, to reflect the origins of the fruit. I set out to make a mixed citrus marmalade that had all of these qualities, and at a cheaper price than substandard store-brand offerings.
First, let me say off the bat that while I was making the marmalade–which took me five solid hours of work–I thought to myself, “I’m never making this again! This is way too much work!” After I had the marmalade all jarred up and tasted it, however, I said to myself, “I’m totally making this again! I don’t care how much work it is…it’s just too good not to eat again.” Some things in life are worth the work, and good marmalade is definitely one of them.
Let’s talk cost. Marmalade is expensive as far as jams go, even though it doesn’t contain as much fruit as a decent marmalade should. You can pay up for $4.00 for a basic jar of orange marmalade. When you make it yourself, however, you can make a jar of superior marmalade for about $1.85 a jar! And that cost is for all organic fruit and sugar! The recipe below does include a bottle of white wine, which will bring the cost to $3.00 a jar; this is still cheaper than store-bought, and it’s decadent! But you can use water or a fruit juice instead of the wine and you’ll still be paying half for superior marmalade over store-bought when you make it yourself.
For complete photo instruction on making this marmalade visit our photo album on the Rural Spin Facebook Page. This recipe makes a little over 6 jelly jars of marmalade:
INGREDIENTS (6 pounds of citrus)
- 3 pink grapefruit
- 2 lemons
- 3 limes
- 5 oranges,
- 1 bottle of Reisling or other sweet white wine
- 6 cups of sugar
- 1 tsp grated nutmeg (fresh is best)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Assemble the following tools:
- A “Y-style” peeler. This is pretty key as many zesters and other peelers will not make you happy while zesting 6 pounds of fruit. (I avoid recommending products, but OXO or Khun Rikon make good all-around peelers that have a place in the kitchen for any peeling needs.) I can tell you this because I used a paring knife to zest, and I’m pretty sure I could have saved TONS of time had I purchased a quality peeler like a friend suggested.
- Two large bowls, one for your fruit and another for your fruit peels and membranes after you zest the fruit.
- A heavy-bottomed dutch oven or similar large-sized pot, in which to boil your marmalade.
- A thermometer, candy or instant-read.
First, wash the fruit well with soap and a scrub brush. You want the rind very clean, and you never know who has pawed what onto the fruit before you popped it into your grocery cart.
Next, cut the zest off of all of your fruit, first making sure to remove any blemishes you see. Be careful not to include any of the white pith. (Did I include some? Yep. I ain’t perfect….) I used a paring knife to do this, but before I make my next batch I’ll definitely be purchasing a Y-style vegetable peeler.
After all the zest is removed (which will take you a good hour using a paring knife on 6 pounds of citrus), chop it with a large knife. How fine you chop it depends upon how large you want your chunks of zest to be in your marmalade. My advice is to leave it larger than you think you want it; it will reduce in size as it is cooked.
Place all the zest in your pot, add water until just covered, and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the zest is tender. Don’t top the water off. After the 30 minutes are up turn the heat off and let it sit.
Now it’s time to remove all of the fruit from the peel and the membrane (reserve a cup or two of the peel). Be prepared for raisin fingers on this one–it took me an hour and a half to de-membrane 6 pounds of citrus. For the lemons and limes, it’s easier to cut the peel and membrane away than it is to use your fingers. With the grapefruit and oranges, however, using the fingers is easier. Place all of your fruit in one bowl, and the peels and membranes in another.
When you are done separating all of the fruit, add all of the fruit to your pot to join the zest. Add the bottle of white wine, two cups of water, your nutmeg and cinnamon, and 6 cups of sugar. Stir, and set heat to medium so it can boil away without burning.
Take the reserved skins and put them into a jelly bag or some muslin. The skins have some pectin in them and will help your marmalade to set. Add the bundle to your pot. How many skins you use depends upon how much room you have in your pot!
Remove the bag of skins after about an hour and start checking your temperature. You want your marmalade to reach the gel-set stage, the exact temperature depends upon your elevation:
- Sea Level: 220 F
- 1,000 ft: 218 F
- 2,000 ft: 216 F
- 3,000 ft: 214 F
- 4,000 ft: 212 F
- 5,000 ft: 211 F
- 6,000 ft: 209 F
- 7,000 ft: 207 F
- 8,000 ft: 205 F
Once your jam reaches the gel-set stage for your elevation, keep it boiling for two or three minutes just to set it well. Then turn off the heat and stir the marmalade to make sure the zest is well distributed. Also take some time to admire how shiny and beautiful your marmalade is!
Funnel your marmalade into cleaned jars. At this point you can give them a nice water bath to seal the jars, following standard protocols for that process (we’ll write a future post on canning jams, jellies, and marmalade). However, this marmalade is present-worthy. I ended up giving most of my jars away, and kept one for myself. It lasted maybe a week before I had eaten it all, and my friends and family reported the same quick demise of this delicious treat.