June 11, 2009

Orange Marmalade The Old Fashioned Way.

At the exact time I was ladelling my homemade marmalade into sterilized jars I heard Ready, Steady, Cook in the background. One of the guest chefs had blueberries in her mystery bag and she decided to make blueberry jam in the microwave in ten minutes. Okay then. She also made a passing comment that went something like this; "in this day and age there is no other way you would ever consider making jam other than in the microwave".

Funny how she happened to say that at the very moment I had expended a lot of time and energy into making jam (okay marmalade) the old fashioned way. Is somebody trying to tell me something? Well I'm afraid Miss Bloom, I am making jam (marmalade) and I am definitely not making it in the microwave. Incidentally, her blueberry jam resembled more of a runny blueberry sauce. If you are not interested in making marmalade from scratch, I mean it, from scratch, then it's best to save your time and look no further. And I am guessing if you are that person, then perhaps microwave jam would appeal to you.

If you are still with me, then let's soldier on. This jam and marmalade making is a real labour of love. Is it worth it? In my case I have beautiful oranges that I can pick straight from the tree, so that is a big motivation for me. Long after the last orange has fallen, or been eaten by hubby or been hacked into by cockies; I will have my homemade marmalade for months. I always keep some for Christmas, because I use it in my glaze for the baked ham. I know everyone in my family just looooooves that ham and using my homemade marmalade makes me feel that it's a touch more special.

Marmalade is a lot fussier than jam. I must separate the segments of orange flesh without the pith, then I have to remove the pith from the rind, then I have to slice the rind as finely as possible. Then it's a two day wait before I can even cook it because it must be left overnight. Make no mistake, it is fussy stuff. No bother. Just knuckle down and do it. Knowing if the jelly set is right can be a tricky business too, but you live and learn and then you know. So I conclude that it is time consuming, it does take effort and it can be tricky.

In this fast world; time, effort and risk are simply not convenient and not worth the trouble especially with lovely local or exotic imported jams in fancy jars alluring you to "pick me, pick me", on our overcrowded supermarket shelves. You may well be thinking "am I nuts". Maybe I am. For you see this nutter yearns for a simple life and an enjoyment of simple pleasures.

And yet to me homemade jam or marmalade is far from simple. It is luxurious and wonderful and when I sit down to enjoy it, I take my time and savour each and every bite. And I look at it. Intently. I admire the rind cooked to perfection. A nice "al dente" texture has been achieved. I'm thrilled. The colour is amazing. I haven't overcooked it and it is a shiny, transparent glistening orange colour. The olfactory senses kick in and the tangy, rich, deep soul of the orange whack me in the nose. No bubbles, hurray, the judges will like that. As for the setting; well that is the best part; it's perfect. And my very unshowy marmalade sits displayed in a very ordinary straight sided jar. Plain and simple. Just how I like it. All things considered I feel happy and I feel clever. Funny isn't it, how some simple homemade marmalade can make me feel this excited. Next time I push my trolley past the jam isle, I shall watch shoppers deliberating over which variety to buy. And I will overtake them with a smile on my face feeling very, very clever.

Sweet Orange Marmalade
adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly

5 large (1kg) oranges
1 1/4 litres water
1 1/4 kg sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
A couple of extra lemons

PS: This recipe in the Weekly includes 2 teaspoons citric acid but I leave it out.

Cut oranges into quarters. Using a sharp knife carefully cut the orange flesh away making sure to leave all the pith behind. Cut the orange flesh into thin slices; place into a clean bowl; reserve seeds.

Take each quarter; with your sharp knife carefully and slowly cut into the pith up against the rind as closely as possible and remove all the pith. If it doesn't all come away then attempt to remove the remaining pith. A small sharp knife may come in handy for this. Reserve half the pith; discard remaining pith.

The orange rind should look like the picture below; nice fine quarters with no white left on them.

Cut the rind into very fine strips. Take your time. For me this step is quite critical. Aesthetically, it is very unattractive to find huge chunky pieces of rind but the most important reason is if the pieces are not even then they may not be cooked all the way through ultimately affecting the keeping time of the marmalade.

Place the fine strips of rind together with the orange flesh and half the water. Cover; stand overnight.

Take out all the seeds you can get from an extra couple of lemons. Place these with any seeds you may have taken out from the oranges. Add to the reserved orange pith.

Tie seeds and pith in a piece of muslin; place muslin bag into a separate bowl and the remaining water. Cover; stand overnight. (The citric acid was added at this stage in the AWW's recipe).

Next day combine contents of both bowls in a large saucepan. Add lemon juice. Bring to boil; simmer, covered for about 40 minutes or until rind is soft. Discard muslin bag. Pour sugar carefully into the centre of the pot. Stir over heat without boiling until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil; boil uncovered without stirring, for about 15 minutes or until marmalade jells when tested. Allow to sit in pot for about 10 minutes before placing into sterilized jars. You will get better distribution of the fruit that way.

Pour into jars carefully; seal immediately. (Unlike the recipe in the AWW, which states to seal when cold. No way. Rubbish!)

Toast and marmalade for tea. And I'm happee.

I served my tea in a lovely "April Rose" fine bone china cup and saucer made in England. It belonged to my father-in-law's mother so I couldn't tell you how old it is. Didn't I tell you I was into "old fashion"?


  1. Well don
    I can just about taste it by looking at the pictures

  2. oh this will be so lovely on your scone recipe!!!
    Can't wait to try it.

  3. yummm, the thought of ham at christmas time is exciting!
    haha, you are oh so traditional mother.
    nicka xx

  4. My mom loves this so much, I've got to learn how to make it to impress her!
    Regarding the cocoa question: I know, it seemed like a lot to me too, but that is correct! It makes a HUGE cake and somehow the balance with the coffee, chocolate, cocoa and sugar just work to yield the most perfect and deep flavour. Try it ;)

  5. A girl after my own heart ;-) A few years ago GB and I were describing our life here in Aus. to a young asian girl "oh" she said "you live the simple high life". How right she was. The simple old fashioned way always wins especially with food. Many years ago I made plum jam in the microwave...you could eat it but...... Have you tried the AWW brandy lime marmalade ? An extra special favourite of mine.

    Your oranges look good enough to eat (ha ha) but the finished marmalde Mmmmm drool drool. Another show winner I am sure. Good luck.

    p.s. I think that the supermarket shoppers are buying the label and not the jam.

  6. Well now that is one heck of a compliment - thanks jorgen.

    Oh sure scones would work Kylie. But I think you can't beat it on good old fashioned bread, lightly toasted.

    Only six more months to go Boo Boo. Now you know the secret to our amazing Xmas ham.

    Well go for it Marta. Just promise me you will try it when you have lots of time. It is not a rush job. And thanks for clarifying your cake measaurements. Gosh it sounds like a lot of cocoa but if you say so, then 1 1/2 cups it is.

    You know Linda, even if it isn't a show winner I am absolutely stoked with it. Which AWW book is your lime marmalade in and what page is the recipe on? I own about 60 Aww's so I may have it stashed in one of them. My limes are dropping like flies at them moment, so I had better be quick if I want to have a go. A "simple high life" - just love it.

  7. Linda - I think or at least I hope the recipe you're talking about is in the "Best Recipes from The Weekly" and it is on page 119. I quickly ran out and gathered some limes, sliced finely and they are soaking till tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.

  8. Thank you so much that means a lot!
    and your posts included this one have always been great!

  9. What an amazing post. Everything looks just beautiful.

  10. HI. Yes you found the right recipe. I am glad "Hubby" likes it. I love the tangy flavour. It just wakens the taste buds first thing in the morning :-) I too have lost count of how many AWW cook books that I own. Having two homes and some books still in storage...who knows :-) Mine date back to the original "Dinner party one and two books" when my children were small. About 25 years of collecting. You cann't beat them for consistancy.

  11. Yep I have both the first two Dinner party books and I recall spending endless days pouring over the recipes back in the eighties. Also the children's party cake book and then the collection grew from there. An aunt on my hubby's side was actually going to be the next food editor of the Weekly in the early 80's but she didn't want to travel three hours every day to get to Sydney and back home. Pamela Clark got the job instead. I went on to assist this lady in what turned out to be a very successful catering business in Wollongong. Ahhh the memories.

  12. Ah...the secrets are slipping out ;-) That goes some way to explain why your food not only looks delicious but professionally displayed as well. Aren't you a clever girl.

  13. ooooohhhh.. I am busy boiling away merrily !!

    I am so glad I found this recipe ! I have never made marmalade before! We have two orange trees in our garden here in Spain..My husband works away and when he returns in 3 weeks.(23 weeks away) I am goin gto present him with home made marmlade, and home made milk bread for his Breakfast !! I love the idea of using the marmalade to glaze the ham at christmas, I usually use brown sugar and orange juice, but the marmalade sounds a much better idea..

    I am trying to lose some excess baggage (10kg's) but you have far too many nice recipes on here...and I am easily tempted !!!!
    Great website ! Look forward to returning soon to see the updates!!

    Jo Bruce..Spain

  14. So pleased you dropped by Jo. I'm particularly proud of my orange marmalade. We have local agricultural shows in Australia and I always enter a marmalade in them. I was the first place getter with my marmalade for four years. Last year I was knocked off my perch and received a second place. Still very good. Anyhow, I think the recipe is a good one as judged by others.

    You can't beat it for a ham glaze either. Thanks again for dropping by.

  15. I came back from Scotland recently with a bit of an obsession for well made marmalade so I had to try this. I made mine with about 6 oranges and 2 grapefruit and it was amazing! Definitely worth the hunched over sore back from preparing the rind. I have to stop myself from automatically going to my jam cupboard and pulling this one out every time. Lucky I made some pear and ginger and pear and vanilla jams today to give it a run for it's money!

  16. Hello
    I am so thrilled to have found your blog. I'm a novice at canning jams. In the past I worked along side my grandmother and cousin.. Since they are gone now I am about to attempt this project on my own.
    I adore a good sweet orange marmalade. And haven't had any since Grandmother made it a number of years ago.. I squirreled away the dozen jars she had stored in the down stair cupboard. Each year I would bring up a couple of jars. Give one or two to other cousins as well. You guessed it the Marmalade didn't last long. So I have come here to muster my courage.. Oh I forgot to mention Grands never wrote down her recipe . From what I can remember yours seems to be the closest I've found. it's your photos that sold me .. and I suppose that you love the old fashioned tried and true way of doing things. Oh if I lived closer I'd love to stop by and see your Farm.
    Thanks for creating your blog. Anne

  17. Wow thanks Anne. You've made my day with your lovely comment. You sound like just the person I'm glad has stumbled upon my 'laborious, but oh-so-worth-it' orange marmalade. I'm a huge fan of the old ways and I think there is nothing better than cooking things from scratch especially using one's own produce. You sound like you get that. Good luck with the recipe and hope it turns out for you - jams and marmalades can really 'test' one's fortitude and determination. I think I might go and have a piece of toast with some marmalade; I just took another look at my photos and thank you - they rather made my mouth watery. Hope you drop by another time. Cheers Mariana.

  18. A very big thank you Sarah list. Yep. Hunched back. I can truly relate to that one. But it is so worth it in the end. When you look through the glass to see lovely thin bits of rind distributed throughout the marmalade, it is sooo pleasing and rewarding. Nothing ever comes easy. Isn't that a general rule in life! Hehe. Sounds like you can well and truly relate to the beauty of a well made marmalade. So very pleased you dropped by. cheers Mariana.

  19. Love the recipe, curious as to the pictures and seeds? Is that because of the addition of the citric acid? I've never found that necessary. I left it out, I use to hate orange marmalade and then something happened after 50 years I decided I might could tolerate it and then actually began to like it..lol..being I'm from the states I wanted to know what an AWW cookbook is? Thanks! Have a great weekend.

  20. How long does it keep? 2 weeks?. How much does this recipe make?

  21. lovely recipe and marmalade looks yummy
    question - 1. my grandmother always peeled the orange part off then sectioned out the orange do not remember her soaking the pith and seeds why is this done
    2. when she made this she would simmer the rind and orange sections in separate pots ans put the sections pot through a fine sieve but did not soak over night why is this done

    unfortunately she never followed a written recipe for any of her canning baking or whatever she made but her stuff always turned out great

  22. a neighbor to my parents used to make marmalade with the calamondons and kumquats that grew in mom's back yard with both of them having a pithless skin they just cut em in half removed the seeds and put the fruit through a grinder and proceeded with making the marmalade it was very tasty