Orange marmalade, the recipe that tops all others

Recipe for orange marmalade, here a sliced muffin with marmalade spread over it

Here is our recipe for orange marmalade, offered to us by Françoise Porcher, an expert who simply loves perfect jam.

With this recipe, you’ll rediscover the real taste of orange marmalade.


  • 4 pounds / 2 kg of table oranges, with thin peels, organic (optional)
  • 2 lemons, non-treated
  • 45 oz / 1.3 kg sugar

Grow your ingredients at home:

Recipe for orange marmalade

  • Clean the oranges in lukewarm water to melt off any natural surface wax.
  • In a large pot, place the whole fruits (all the oranges and the 2 lemons) and cover with water, just enough to immerse the fruits. Remove the fruits, and bring the water to a boil.
  • When the water starts boiling, slide the fruits back in and cover with a lid. Keep the boiling going for 25 minutes. The peel must turn soft and slightly wrinkled.
  • Drip-dry over the sink.

Prepare an enamel terracotta dish, place the food mill on top (large mesh).

  • Slice the cooled-down oranges in half. Press them over the food mill.
  • Remove all pips and seeds.
  • Cut the halves into smaller pieces. When they aren’t too hot anymore, the oranges are easier to work with.
  • Remove any extra seeds you discover.
  • Run two or three fruits at a time through the food mill. Any paste remaining in the mill should be dry and well-wrung. Peels should break down into a thick yellow paste, that’s what is going to give this jam such a satisfying taste (especially the lemon rinds).

If you don’t have a food mill, or if you want to save yourself the time and hassle, you can blend the fruits in a blender with a little water instead.

  • Scrape the mesh grating underneath the food mill to recover this yellow paste.
  • After that, chop any remaining peels that got caught in the food mill into thin slivers (you can also use an appliance for this, some pastry and cooking appliances have a “blade” feature).

In a copper vat,

  • Pour the content of both the terra cotta dish and the sliced peels.Orange marmalade boiling in a copper pot
  • On low to medium heat, cook the mix and constantly stir. Add in the sugar in a slow, continuous dribble.
  • Remove, again, any pips and and the clear skin that contained the flesh of each orange quarter.
  • Excess water evaporates, boiling and bubbles lessen, and the mashed fruit drifts to the bottom of the vat.
  • A thick pulp juice rises to the surface and sticks to the sides of the copper vat, forming orange-ish jelly. With a spatula, separate this sticky jelly and melt it back into the vat.
  • Perform the “cold plate test” and, when ready, pour into sterile jars.

The recipe is identical for the different types of citrus: blood orange, mandarin orange, clementine…

A twist on this recipe: Irish Orange Marmalade

Marinate black raisins in a shotglass with a little whisky. When the marmalade seems ready for pouring in jars, toss in the marinated raisins (set any extra whisky to the side).

Once the cold plate test shows it’s time, stir the jam a bit to cool it down somewhat, and add from 1½ to 3 ounces (5 to 8 cl) of fresh whisky.

Don’t use the same whisky as the one used to marinate the raisins: it probably took on the color of these grapes, and the marmalade would lose its warm, orange color and turn an icky brown instead.

Variation : Start filling most of the pots with orange marmalade, and in 3 or 4 of the smaller jars, add 1 ounce (3 cl) of whisky in each. Make sure to reheat what’s left of the marmalade for 2 minutes before filling in these last “loaded” jars. Whisky, in Ireland, is written “Whiskey”.

About sugar and orange marmalade

Spoon in marmalade cooked with oranges and sugarJam is a technique to keep fruit thanks to sugar. The antiseptic properties of sugar become very potent once it reaches a certain concentration. Evaporating water off during the cooking increases the proportion of fruit sugars in the remaining mix.

The healthier the fruits, the more ripe and the higher the quality, the more sugar they contain in the form of fructose. They’ll also be quicker to release any water and the cooking phase won’t take as long. An advantage of shorter cooking times is that the texture of the fruit is maintained, as are more of its vitamins, trace elements, and minerals.

The Origin of sugar

Sugar is extracted from the root of the sugarbeet, a variety of red beet. Alternative sources include sugarcane, which was in some countries called the “honey reed”. Though you might think the opposite, actually, the whiter the sugar, the more pure it is.

Recipe for orange marmalade, three jars filled with the delicious jamBrown sugar owes its caramel-like color to a prolonged, intense cooking. For jam, the sugar that’s most adequate is white crystal sugar. However, if you’re interested in using organic sugar, you’ll probably only find cane sugar available. Use it in the same amounts, but note that it will give your recipe a slightly different taste. It has the same nutritional value.

I [Françoise, that is], use cane sugar when I prepare jams from exotic fruits such as banana, mango, pineapple…

Don’t get cane sugar confused with brown sugar, they’re not the same thing.

Images: CC BY 2.0: Manoir de la Boirie, Steve Bremer, CC BY-SA 2.0: Maza; Pixabay: Silvia