Rosemary's Blog

Avoiding sticky mistakes with your marmalade making

For a few years now I have missed sharing the fun of marmalade making: I used to run courses in this at West Dean College near Chichester which were always a pleasure. People love sharing their marmalade inspiration - especially men - and, as they said in the Paddington Bear film, every family should have a Marmalade Day.

But where to start? There are many recipes and ideas out there and I have changed my method in recent years, preferring to pre-cook the fruit and then shred the peel which is so very much easier than chopping it all up when raw.  


There's little culinary satisfaction greater than sparkling jars of homemade preserves and, to share my tips with you this year, I decided to set to and make a video. And here it is, after lots of learning about editing and voice-overs! It's still pretty amateur but I hope you'll find it fun and helpful and that it will inspire you to have a go if you are new to marmalade making. If you are already an old hand at marmalade, you might like to try one or two of my favourite flavourings? 

Here's my standard recipe so that you don't have to write it down while I am chatting: 

 New Seville Marmalade

Makes about 6 x 350g jars


750g Seville oranges - about 6 medium sized fruits

1 lemon

1 litre water

1.5 kilos granulated sugar

1 Thoroughly wash and rinse some jars and place them in a warm oven, about gas mark 2, 150C, 300F, until required. Upside down on the wire shelves is best if you can make them balance. Place a plate - a white one is best - in the fridge to chill for testing the set of the marmalade.

2 Wash the fruits and cut a hole in the base of each, removing the disc if still attached. The hole should go right into the flesh. Arrange the fruit in a single layer in a suitable pan with lid and add the water which should cover the fruit. Cover and bring to the boil, then simmer slowly for about 1hr 30 mins, until the fruit is tender. Scoop the fruits onto a plate with a slotted spoon, reserving the water, and leave to cool slightly. Transfer the water to a preserving pan or similar which will allow the marmalade to boil without boiling over. 

3 Cut the fruit in half and scoop out the insides and pips, placing them in a muslin or jelly bag. Tie the bag with kitchen string and add it to the water. Shred the peel and add that too with the sugar. The peel must be soft before you add the sugar, otherwise is will toughen irredeemably. (If the peel is not quite soft enough, add an extra 200ml of water and bring the peel slowly to the boil in the preserving pan. It should be soft by then and you can add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Adding the extra water compensates for evaporation in this additional cooking.)

4 Place the pan over a moderate heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then boil rapidly until the marmalade is thickening and starting to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Put a little on the cold plate to test for set. Leave in the fridge for a minute or so then push the marmalade with your finger nail. Does it wrinkle? Yes - it’s ready; No - carry on cooking for a few more minutes, returning the plate to the fridge. Once setting point is very close take the pan off the heat as you test for set, to stop the marmalade over-cooking (and becoming toffee-like). Remove the pan to a pot stand, remove the jelly bag squeezing as much liquid from it as possible (see video) and leave the marmalade for 20 minutes before bottling - this stops the peel rising in the jars.

5 Pour into the warm jars, seal and cover. Wipe the jars and label them when the marmalade is cold (and set!).



Chilli pepper: 2 dried chillies in with the fruit while cooking, then put them into the muslin bag with the pips etc. Add 10-12 regular shop chillies, finely chopped, with the sugar as you start to boil the marmalade. My preferred chilli for marmalade and all preserves is Lemon Drop (also called Hot Lemon) from Sea Spring Seeds.  You will need to grow these yourself but that's as much fun as the marmalade making, and you'll only need 6 fresh chillies in each batch of marmalade.

Black pepper: for each 750g Sevilles add 1tbsp cracked black peppercorns with the sugar.

Ginger: add 150-200g finely chopped crystalised ginger with the sugar.

Bay scented: 20 broken bay leaves in the jelly bag, loosely tied, with the fruit while cooking, then add the pips etc to them in the bag for the final cooking.

Whisky: stir 3tbsp whisky into the marmalade once setting point is reached and the pan is removed from the heat, then leave for 20 minutes before bottling. Don't add any more as you might affect the set. You can add the same amount of whisky to the chilli, pepper or ginger variations if you wish, once setting point is reached and before you leave the marmalade to stand.