Ever wonder about the setting point for marmalade? Or what temperature do you actually have to boil marmalade to? I investigated how the temperature affects marmalade set and I was really surprised by the results. Check it out!
- How do you know when marmalade is set?
- How long does marmalade take to set?
- Experiment to compare cooking temperature to marmalade set
- What is the setting temperature for marmalade (also known as marmalade setting point)?
- Do you need to add pectin when making marmalade?
- Cookbooks on Preserves
- Achieving the perfect texture and set: troubleshooting marmalade
- Further reading
I cannot stand recipes that suggest that I cook my jam to the "desired consistency" or until it "passes the wrinkle plate test". Say what? How do you know when marmalade is cooked enough?
Let's be honest. If you are not a jam and marmalade expert and if you don't make preserves very often, you will probably lack the experience to see the visual cues of the perfect set. I know that I can't always tell!
I hate guessing games and, as you know, I love to measure everything. And that is how the marmalade temperature experiment was born.
Once you understand the marmalade setting point, your jam-making will get a lot easier!
How do you know when marmalade is set?
You have three basic options for determining if your marmalade has cooked enough and will set properly after cooling:
- the bubbles: when the marmalade first comes to a boil, the bubbles are quite volatile, they form and pop almost instantaneously, whereas when the marmalade has thickened enough, the bubbles will be more stable and resemble blinking fish eyes. The visual cues are hard to see for beginners so if you are learning to make marmalade and jams, I recommend you observe the changes in the bubbles as you go, but you should rely on other methods to decide when your marmalade has reached the setting point.
- the wrinkle plate test: freeze a few small saucer plates in your freezer overnight. When you think your marmalade is cooked enough, retrieve a saucer from the freezer and place a dollop of hot marmalade on the plate. Put it back in the freezer for 1 minute, then take it out and push the dollop with your finger: if the dollop wrinkles nicely, your marmalade is probably done, if it's still too fluid to wrinkle, keep cooking.
- the temperature: measure the temperature with a candy thermometer. You want to cook marmalade to somewhere in the range of 217ºF to 221ºF, depending on how fluid or thick you want it. Don't overcook your marmalade because the peel will become chewy and the sugar will caramelize, so be careful how high you push the temperature before you stop cooking.
There’s one caveat when it comes to using temperature: you need to pay attention to altitude! If you are making marmalade above sea level (like in the Rockies), the boiling point of water will be lower, which means the setting temperature will be lower too! The setting point of 220 °F is for marmalade-making at sea level.
How long does marmalade take to set?
In general, once you achieve the right consistency according to your tests and then you have canned your marmalade in jars using a water bath method, you must set the sealed jars aside to cool and it will take 24 to 48 hours for the marmalade to thicken and achieve the final set.
Experiment to compare cooking temperature to marmalade set
I cooked up a batch of three fruit marmalade, using the whole fruit method (no pectin). I measured the temperature as the marmalade bubbled away with an instant read thermometer, the Thermapen which is very fast at registering temperatures and temperature changes, but a probe thermometer with a longer cable like the ChefAlarm would be better because then you don't have to hold it with your hands, which would be much less dangerous to use than my hand-held setup.
I took samples every degree, starting at 217°F and all the way up to 222°F. I chose this range because most of the recipes I perused recommended cooking to somewhere in that range.
As the marmalade boiled and I sampled away, I honestly thought my experiment was a flop. I could not have been more mistaken. Behold, the results!
What is the setting temperature for marmalade (also known as marmalade setting point)?
It turns out there is a significant difference between marmalade cooked to 217°F and marmalade cooked to 220°F. Generally, the setting point of marmalade is 222ºF (which comes out to about 105ºC). Cooked to 220ºF, marmalade will be very thick and will set properly once cooled. But some people don't like to cook marmalade that much and prefer a looser set, others prefer to go a little higher, up to 222ºF. That's entirely up to you.
Here's the impact of cooking temperature on marmalade set:
- marmalade cooked to the lower end of the range (217–218°F or 103ºC) has a bright citrus flavour like fresh citrus fruit, but it is more on the watery side of set. The peel is very tender. Marmalade cooked to this temperature dribbles off your toast and leaves a trail in your kitchen or on your keyboard, if you are like me, doing chores while eating marmalade on toast in the morning, without a plate to catch the drips. Delicious, but drippy.
- marmalade cooked to the middle of the range (219°F or 104ºC) is not as drippy, but not overly set. The flavour is still bright and the peel is tender, but the preserve is just a touch thicker.
- marmalade cooked to the upper end of the range (220–221°F or 105ºC) is set just right for me: 220°F is considered the setting point of jam, also known as the gelling point, and this is where things get really interesting. The marmalade is much thicker, but with a touch of dribble to it, the peel is firmer, and the flavour is completely different. The citrus flavour is still there, but it's not as bright. The caramel undertone is coming through and there's a bit of a bitter orange flavour that lingers.
- marmalade cooked to the setting point, 222°F (105.5ºC), is chewy and very thick: this is the upper limit, in my opinion, as beyond this point, the peel gets really, really chewy. At 222°F, the peel is a "nice" chewy. Past 222°F (106ºC), the peel is bordering on tough, and not so pleasant.
Do you need to add pectin when making marmalade?
Seville oranges have the most pectin, so a batch of Seville orange marmalade definitely does not require the addition of pectin. But that being said, citrus fruit vary as does their pectin content. As we can see above with my temperature experiment, the marmalade set has a lot to do with the concentration of sugar and the removal of water, and not as much to do with the pectin content.
If we compare a dollop of pectin-set orange marmalade from the store to homemade marmalade with no extra pectin added, you will notice the pectin-set marmalade is more jellied, seemingly dryer. The store-bought marmalade with pectin definitely doesn't have my favourite texture. It smears funnily on toast, and I found the jiggle of the pectin-set marmalade unpleasant, and a little odd.
Cookbooks on Preserves
If you are interested in simple recipes and techniques for making preserves, like this marmalade, check out Camilla Wynne's books on preserving:
- Preservation Society Home Preserves (available on Amazon in English), and it's also in her book Les Conserves Selon Camilla (available on Amazon in French)
- Jam Bakes (available on Amazon), which is dedicated to making preserves and baking with them too!
I used both these books to research this recipe and follow Camilla Wynne's methods closely as she taught me how to make Seville orange marmalade years ago. Highly recommend!
Achieving the perfect texture and set: troubleshooting marmalade
Is your homemade marmalade not setting or is the marmalade too runny?
After your batch of marmalade is canned and left for 2 days to cool and achieve its final set, if you open your first jar and find that the marmalade is runny, it means that you didn't cook the marmalade for long enough or to a high enough temperature. Your batch of marmalade contains too much water still.
How can I fix runny marmalade?
You have two choices to fix runny marmalade if it's not setting properly:
- Live with the runny marmalade and enjoy it despite its flaws: Spread it liberally on toast or better yet, spoon it on vanilla ice cream. Serve it with cake as a sauce.
- Reboil it: open up all the jars of marmalade, combine them in a pot on the stove, and cook it again up to 220ºF. You will have to go through the process of sterilizing the jars again and canning the marmalade in the sterilized jars in a water bath.
Is your homemade marmalade too thick and chewy? It's overcooked!
As I mentioned, you can save and fix a marmalade that doesn't set properly because it's undercooked by reheating the preserve, bringing it back up to a boil and cooking to 220ºF–222ºF before transferring to sterilized jars and sealing. On the other hand, if you've overcooked a batch of marmalade, there's not much you can do.
Overcooked marmalade has a few characteristics: chewy, tough citrus peel, possibly rubbery and a thick texture verging on dry. I have been guilty of overcooking marmalade when I was trying to determine the set with a plate test: I left the pot of marmalade on the stove, which continued to boil while I was fiddling with the plate test. In those few minutes, the temperature of the marmalade continued to rise, and I ended up with a rubbery marmalade.
Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to salvage a batch of overcooked marmalade. Of course, you can still eat overcooked marmalade and learn from this mistake. Remember to pull the pan off the heat while you determine if you've achieved the proper set and use an instant-read probe thermometer (like this probe thermometer with a longer cable: the ChefAlarm) to make sure you are able to measure changes in temperature as they happen with little delay!
Is your marmalade gritty with sugar crystals? Find out why!
Undissolved sugar can cause crystallization
When making marmalade, each step serves a purpose and though it might seem tedious, it's important to follow the steps carefully. For example, when you mix the chopped fruit with the sugar, it's very important to stir the mixture on a lower heat setting in order to properly dissolve all the sugar.
The goal is to completely dissolve and melt the sugar. If you don't take time to properly dissolve the sugar at the very beginning of jam-making in general, you risk ending up with gritty crystallized marmalade because sugar wants to crystallize and just a tiny amount of undissolved sugar at this stage can ruin an entire batch of marmalade.
If you didn't properly dissolve the sugar, it's likely that you will notice sugar crystallizing in all the sealed jars of the entire batch of marmalade, before they've been opened. When you open a new jar, you can transfer the contents to a saucepan and heat it on low to warm the marmalade and melt the sugar crystals. Then transfer it back to the jar and store in the fridge.
Some people also suggest briefly microwaving the open jar of marmalade to warm and melt the crystallized sugar.
Improperly stored jars can cause crystallization
It's important to properly close open jars of marmalade to avoid evaporation. If you don't close a jar of marmalade (or jam) properly, the surface may evaporate causing crystallization of the sugar. This isn't surprising given how much sugar you use to make preserves. This concentrated sugary spread is likely to crystallize over time, especially if it dries out.
It's honestly a matter of personal preference, but now I hope that you can better understand your options and pick your favourite marmalade set. I don't think there's a right or a wrong. Well... there's definitely no wrong when it comes to marmalade. I love them all. My favourite was definitely above 219°F. Probably 220–221°F. I love the flavour of the marmalade in this range, and I am happy that it will stay put on my toast. Then again, I cooked a batch of marmalade to 222°F and I love how it's a little darker, with a deeper flavour. In a perfect world, I would have a jar from each temperature on hand, at all times, to suit my mood.
Which marmalade do you think you would prefer?
- If you want to make marmalade, start with this homemade three fruit marmalade recipe
- This method was also used to make grapefruit marmalade and orange marmalade
- If you prefer finer cut marmalade, try this lime marmalade
- Make marmalade pudding cakes with your homemade marmalade!
- Serve homemade marmalade with homemade croissants (if you have the time)
Please note this post contains affiliate links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you buy a product I recommend, I will get a small commission, and the price you have to pay will not change in any way.
A marmalade lover just like me! Great blog!
Christelle is flabbergasting says
I have ideas of packagings in mind... with beautifully lettered numbers! (just saying)(just my inner designer leaving a comment... don't pay attention! ;p)
Such an interesting post, Janice! I've already told you, but I Iooove it when you're "Walter White-ing" pastry ... or jam!
I'm the founder/moderator for Punk Domestics (www.punkdomestics.com), a community site for those of use obsessed with, er, interested in DIY food. It's sort of like Tastespotting, but specific to the niche. I'd love for you to submit this to the site. Good stuff!
I think l like between 219 & 220, what l found intresting was that you say that you stir your marmalade when it has reached rolling boil stage... before it reaches setting point, where everthing l have read said not to stir at this stage. I found that my peel always burns at this stage even when only left for 5mins. I use all my peel so it is very chunky sliced quite thin. Still tastes good!!!!
Will try stirring the next lot l make to see if it works, alsoread some where after softening peel removing it until after setting point feached then adding the peel so l will also try this to see which tastes the best.
Janice Lawandi says
Thanks for your comment! Adding the peel at the end would be another interesting method to test! And please, if you have a chance to stop by and let me know the results, or by email, I would love to hear back!
I have never burned the peel, but I know last year, I overcooked a batch of marmalade (by a lot, way past 222°F) and the peel became very hard to chew.
Julie Corbier de Lara says
I have tried adding the peel towards the end it it works great. You can get a firm set without overcoming g the peel. Christine Ferber does this with some of her recipes. She’ll cook the fruit a bit, strain it out. Cook the usurp to set point and throw the fruit back in.
Stirring the marmalade when it has started to boil is a good way of making sure that you have reached rolling boil. If stirring stops the boil then you have not quite reached boiling. It is when you cannot stir it off the boil that you have reached rolling boil
Jean | DelightfulRepast.com says
Janice, I'm not going to be keeping my marmalade in January tradition this year -- can't squeeze in one more thing -- but next year I'm going to try stopping at 219 degrees. That looks good to me. I usually make mine too thick.
Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers says
This is a great study in marmalade 🙂 Personally, I love the fresh citrus taste and a little dripping off my toast. I guess that puts me in the 219/220 range. Good to know!
Lani Laskowski says
I flew to Oakland and took a class from June Taylor and it is so true that the temperature is everything. I also learned to make my own pectin from the guts and leftover stuff. xoxo
Rachel L says
Those photos are enchanting. I must now attempt marmalade - thank you!
Lasse B says
You have a wonderful site.
The advice on jam and marmalade is really good. I love the esperimental-scientific approach. Maybe pectin is overrated but temperature is underestimated as setting factors. The fact that boiling temperature rises as you cook along is due to the water evaporating. Do you think it is possible to shorten the time needed to obtain a proper temperature could be decreased by adding more sugar from the beginning and start the boiling with a higher sugar concentration?
The photos are brilliant. Do you have any tips regarding food photography?
Janice Lawandi says
Thank you for your comments! I hope this post will help many when they are making marmalade. I have struggled with the plate test for years, and I always wondered about the temperature so that's how I got the idea for this experiment.About the sugar content. I absolutely agree that part of the cook time is spent boiling off the water, but by having all that water, it helps reduce the risk of crystallization later on, by ensuring that all the sugar dissolves/melts properly. I feel otherwise there might be a risk of unevenly dissolved sugar which could lead to grittiness down the road... Once most of the water has evaporated off, at that point what you are measuring is the temp of the boiling sugar.I have to admit though, if you use a big pot, the boiling time is quite quick and the jam is done in under 10 minutes. It's entirely pot-size dependant (well and also dependant on the volume of jam you are making).For the photography: have you read "Plate to Pixel"? It is such a useful/informative book. I cannot recommend it enough!
I have a different approach. I like my marmalade to taste of fruit rather than sugar, so for many years I've been using much less sugar than most recipes suggest. The boil always took a long time, then one day I had a revelation. If you reduce the sugar, you also need to reduce the water, so that you are starting off with a sugar solution of a similar concentration. In doing this, I think I reduced it a little further than I need and now find 10 minutes is a long boil. But the shorter boiling time also gives, IMHO, a better flavour, so I'm kind of happy. So yes, I think you can reduce the boiling time by increasing the starting concentration, but do it by cutting down on water rather than increasing sugar.
As for temperature, I like the bright citrus flavour and will put with it being a little runny to get that, so about 218°F, or 219°F tops for me.
Karen Calanchini says
How did you attach the Thermapen to the cooking pot? It seems towards the end you could miss your perfect set time if you are taking the pen in and out. thank you for your response.
Hi Karen, Thanks for your question!
As far as I know, there aren't any clip attachments for the Thermapen. Mine certainly doesn't have a clip. So, yes, I was inserting and removing the pen as I removed aliquots from the pot of boiling marmalade, but I also took the pan off the heat to help avoid the issue you mention: missing the setting point and/or missing a degree. I wish the Thermapen had a clip! The Thermapen has a pretty quick response time so I find once you do put it back in the marmalade, within seconds, you know what temp it is (as opposed to old-school candy thermometers)
But to be honest, when I'm making a batch of jam or marmalade, I just hold the Thermapen and I usually don't constantly pull it in and out of the mixture. Sometimes I switch the thermometer from one hand to another so that I can then stir with a different hand too, but that's about it. I don't think there's too much risk of missing the set point though because I find it does take a fair amount of time for the mixture to move up a degree when it's above 215F.
I hope that makes sense!
I love your experiment! I will be making some for the first.time this year and I plan on not using pectin.
Really why I am commenting is I love to use my digital meat thermometer instead 🙂 I dont even use it for meat haha. It has a nice long cord I can just insert into the big pot, and place the box on the stove, two free hands!! Works like a charm for yogurt and candy 😉
Hello. I was excited when I happened upon this site. Bought a batch of oranges and followed instructions. First batch a tiny bit too runny but quite delicious. Emboldened I bought another batch (prob the last of the season) to try for another go. Unfortunately, I missed the setting point despite using Thermapen and using crinkle test. It never crinkled. I kind of knew I'd missed the setting point but jarred it up anyway and left in fridge. It's like runny syrup! Tastes fab but pretty useless. Is there anything I can do to get it to set now? Help!
I'm so sorry this happened to you! Which recipe did you use for your marmalade? Was it the three fruit marmalade from my site or a different one? I've noticed when people follow marmalade recipes that include adding extra water to the pot of sugar+boiled fruit, this leads to a runny marmalade that doesn't set as well and it has to be boiled for much longer. My recipe calls for the chopped boiled fruit + sugar + lemon juice. No extra water. And in this case, you don't have to boil as much to reach the setting point. So, did you add extra water to the marmalade?
In any case, my strategy would be to open up the jars and place the marmalade back in the pot and cook it again to boil it down and remove the excess water. You could also strain out the fruit and just boil down the liquid to make it easier, then add back the fruit/peel once you've achieved the right set. This might help you boil the marmalade harder so that it boils down faster, without compromising the texture of the peel. I hope that helps! Let me know how it goes!
Thanks for prompt response, Janice. Didn't use your recipe (I certainly will next time though!). I used 1 kg oranges, 1 large lemon, 1lb sugar (and as I type I think I only used 1lb instead of 2) and yes, 3 pints water. I'm not sure I can reduce it any more as it is already really quite reduced now. So, I think I've sussed the problem - no water next time and the right amount of sugar! Does that sound like the reason it didn't set? Do you think it's worth putting back in pan and adding the extra 1lb of sugar? Or should I use some pectin and if so, how much? Thanks so much for advice. I love the site. Great to have someone who really knows about the chemistry.
oooh, I think the sugar could be part of the problem. I feel like the set with these jams is a combination of pectin gelling but also the concentration of sugar. I think in this case though, you have to decide if you are going to be upset about the marmalade being too runny. If yes, then absolutely take it out of the jars, add a little more sugar, and bring it back up to a boil and see if you can get it back up to around 219-220ºF-ish and/or get it to pass the wrinkle test. But runny marmalade can be served over ice cream, stirred into yogurt, as a sauce for a simple sponge cake, etc. You could also serve it on pancakes or waffles! Add in a little orange liqueur and serve it with crêpes! I feel like you could do a lot with a batch of runny marmalade, even if it's too runny for toast 😉
Yes, it does and thank you.
No one adds pectin to marmalade, citrus peel is full of it, so there is no need. Jam setting is a bit more complicated than getting to the right temperature though. The temperature tells you the sugar concentration you have reached, which is one important variable, but you also need acid and pectin or it will never set, it will just turn into a very thick syrup. The acid also helps some of the sugar hydrolyse into glucose and fructose, and those molecules interfere with sucrose crystallisation, stopping the jam/marmalade from becoming gritty.. The wrinkle test is actually very easy, and has the advantage that you don't need a thermometer, but I guess it's one of those things you need to have learned from your mother.
Thanks for your comment! The "pectin" sample was one I had bought and it was from Fauchon. I was curious about it but it was much too set for my liking, and you are right, the citrus should be adding all the pectin needed.
As for the acid, I agree that acid hydrolyzes sucrose and prevents crystallization. The pH is also important for pectin gelification. If the pH isn't adjusted, the pectin won't gel properly. Of course, in the case of citrus marmalade, the fruits provide enough acidity for this, but with other fruits, the pH can be an issue.
Loved hearing from you! Thanks for stopping by!
Thanks so much for this article. I used my Mauviel copper preserve pan which is very wide, and allows a pretty quick boil off of the water in the mixture. I aimed for 220, but got nervous given the different readings I was getting off of two of my thermometers. I didn't see anyone else mention this, but at around 219-220, the mixture starts to develop a very foamy bubble up to the top of the pan. It definitely was changing consistency at that point. The resulting marmalade is exquisitely silky and wonderful, Thick but not at a candy-like stage. Good set, equivalent to a pectin like jam. Texture much nicer than a pectin based marmalade.
My father, 97, taught me to use pectin when making calamondin marmalade. It has a soft texture much like the 218-219 pictures and a bright flavor.
I really appreciate this test, the article photo! and the great comments. I plan to try the no-pectin 219 degree method today. Thank you so much.
Heather in Maryland says
Thank you for this!
Extremely helpful. Like you, I am very particular about my marmalade!
Heather in Maryland.
Chef Heidi says
Love it that you did this test! I like my marmalade on the runny side, but I have always struggled to give a bang-on temp recommendation for the texture that I like.
The outcome of the frozen plate wrinkle test - wouldn't it depend on the temperature setting of your freezer, and resulting temperature of your freezing cold plate? wonderful web site name and article. thank-you.
I know I'm 5 years late to the game, but this info is exactly what I'm after.
Have been cooking to 105°C the last couple of batches and it ends up too thick for my taste. But I was worried if I cooked it to a lower temp it would fail to set at all. (all the confectionery recipes say sugar has to be 105 or it won't thicken).
So thanks! I'm glad you did the experiment for us.all. 🙂
Thank you, Janice, for your thorough study of marmalade temperatures.
I have only made one batch, from Seville oranges from our tree here in Miami. I used a meat probe thermometer hanging into the boiling pot to reach and maintain 104 degrees celsius, which is just over 219 fahrenheit. My "marmalade" is still completely liquid a week later.
I admire your scientific approach, but at this point all I want to do is redeem my six pints of "marmalade" to make them worthy of spreading on something or gifting to others. What can I/should I do to make a reboil successful? Add pectin? Add lemon juice? Add sugar?
Hi, I'm so sorry this has happened! It's very frustrating when jams and homemade preserves don't set, so I feel your pain! You can definitely take the marmalade out of the jars and reboil it. What recipe did you follow for the marmalade? Are you sure you used enough sugar for the weight of fruit? And one last question, are you sure your thermometer is registering temperature correctly because it sounds like you did everything right, but your thermometer perhaps wasn't indicating the right temperature... just a thought!
Jen Grant says
This is a great post! Do you mind sharing what altitude you are at? I find that has affected my jam-setting point.
Hi, That's a good point about altitude! I'm in Montreal and I think we are pretty close to sea level. If you are somewhere very high up, I guess the boiling point of water would be lower, so the jam would boil at a lower temperature, and maybe you'd have to boil marmalades and jam for longer? I'm not very experienced with altitude cooking and baking though. You probably know more than I do 😉
Colin Gent says
I have never found the wrinkle test or the flake test to be reliable guides to the degree of setting. I use a thermopen to test the brew temperature and cook to 105c. The test sample wrinkles like an elephant's hide. It hardens on the frozen plate to a gel consistency. Yet it doesn't set when it's put into the jars. It thickens somewhat when cool, but it moves when the jar is tilted. It is more like a thick syrup than a gel. Reboiling and adding lemon juice doesn't improve matters. Nor does adding powdered pectin. I prepare the juice and the peel of 1Kg of Seville Oranges in the pressure cooker and add twice the weight of caster sugar before boiling. The marmalade tastes great, but I like a proper gel on my toast. I despair: perhaps you have to be in league with the Devil to succeed with marmalade? If you don't come up with a solution, I'm going to jump off this ledge!
Hi Colin, I feel your pain! I'm going to have to ponder your comment because I'm stumped and not sure where to go because it sounds like you've tried everything. You definitely have plenty of sugar in your recipe (more than I use, in fact!). I've never made jam (or marmalade) in the pressure cooker, but I'd imagine that if a pressure cooker is a sealed vessel, you wouldn't be getting any evaporation. Are you just prepping the fruit in there (like boiling them whole) or are you making the marmalade in the pressure cooker?
Colin Gent says
I laboriously cut all the peel by hand into 2mm slices because I find that makes for a nice bright golden result. 1 Kilo of oranges yields about 400 ml of juice, which I make up to 1 litre with fresh water. I add the juice of one lemon and the bag containing the pith from the oranges. I pressure cook the peel and liquid at full pressure for 15 minutes, by which time the peel is as soft as it would be after two hours on the stove top. I then add the sugar and boil up in the usual way to an end point of 105c. It has occurred to me that perhaps I am boiling too vigorously so the mixture does not evaporate enough before the setting point is reached?
My wife says my marmalade has an acceptable consistency, so I suppose it depends on what you consider to be a 'set'. I just want to get a similar set to that achieved in commercial products.
Valerie Connell says
I, also have had years of making runny pressure cooked marmalade and know the huge disappointment when it does not set. I have just had success using this exact temperature method. Reading about your problem, you do not mention putting all the pips in with the pith when you boil up before adding the sugar, this would make a big difference.
Thanks for a great post. I’m wondering how to stop the tiny bubbles appearing in the jars. I swooshed a palate knife around the jars to bring the bubbles up to the top of the jar which seems to work to some degree but can you tell me why I get the bubbles in the first place please? Thanks.
I am in the process of the annual marmalade production. I shall use a thermometer this year because I have one now, but my marmalade is consistently good. That sounds a little arrogant, but I've been eating the stuff daily for about 50 years or more and I know a great marmalade when I have it. I use seville oranges, lemon and grapefruit (1.25 kg, 2 lemons and 2 grapefuits). For all my jams and marmalades, I just wash the jars and then put them in the oven at about 110°C while I make the preserve. Never had mould or a dud jar of anything, even after keeping some jams for about 8 years...
As I pot the marmalade up, I add Cointreau, Cognac, Scotch Whisky (different sorts) or nothing. Adds variety. And if you don't eat the marmalade in the year, it darkens and becomes even better vintage marmalade next year.
Can you have too much marmalade? Probably not.
Oh my gosh! You definitely have more marmalade experience than I do! Please let me know how it goes with the thermometer. Some people have been noticing that with certain recipes that contain more water than the one I use, the temperature doesn't seem to be indicative of a good set, which is so sad. I can't wait to hear how your next batch goes!
Also, I agree, one can never have too much marmalade!
I’ve tried to make marmalade and jam on many occasions with little success (it is always too runny or caramelised). I followed your advice (reduce water/raise temp to 220F) and my marmalade came out perfect. Great article.
My Grandmother always made grape jam. It was great and store bought grape jam is terrible. I’ve never had success making it (though her recipe was always 1lb of fruit to 1lb of sugar. I will be making some today. Thanks so much.
Mariana Mill says
I am in Carmichael, CA. I have been trying to make Meyer Lemon Marmalade. Been investigating all the different sites. My problem is I boil for 10 minutes & it only goes up to on my thermapen to 118. I don't want to over boil it. How long do you find you are having to boil before it gets to 220. I have a special burner which goes.up quickly & maintains a boil. I use equal parts lemon, sugar & water. Perhaps I have to re duce the water?
Hi Mariana, That's a good question! I have noticed with some recipes that the temperature seems to get stuck at a certain point when I'm boiling and doesn't seem to budge. I haven't experienced this with marmalade, though last week when I made a batch, I did notice that the temperature got to around 217-218F quite fast, but then to get up to 219–220F took a lot longer!
I don't make marmalade with water so it could very well be that there is too much water and it's a challenge to boil it down, which some other readers have mentioned. If the temperature doesn't seem to be a good gauge of set, in this instance, you may have to fall back on a plate test to judge the set by cooling a dollop on a frozen plate in the freezer for a minute. This way you can see if the marmalade is too fluid or not. I hope that helps!
Here's the recipe I use for all my marmalades, which involves boiling the whole fruit til soft, then slicing the soft fruit and mixing with sugar and lemon juice (no water added): https://bakeschool.com/three-fruit-marmalade/
This is a great article and really helped me determine what was important for me in my marmalade’s, and how to achieve it. I keep the article in my preserving file.
I value fresh taste over set so I usually pick a set point of 218F.
Try pomelo marmalade. It's the best!
Marmalade Rescue: I overcooked my marmalade and it was way too solid, darker than I wanted and caramelized. I emptied out the jars and added lemon juice, a little water and more pomelo pulp. Then gently boiled for just a few minutes until the additions were fully combined.
Wasn't ideal but it was still yummy!
Our first batch never set up, then found your post and success. Never having made Orange Marmalade before, your post was incredibly helpful. Thank you.
Hello - this is so helpful thank you! My problem is that by the time I reach temperature half of the liquid has evaporated. I got three jars from my last effort! Can I just add more water at the start?
It's hard for me to troubleshoot without seeing your recipe but, in theory, you wouldn't need to add more water. If your recipe yielded less than the expected number of jars of marmalade, this would indicate the mixture was overcooked OR you started with less fruit and sugar. How is the texture of the marmalade after resting for 24 hours? If it's overly thick and pasty, this could mean it's overcooked. Let me know the details of your method if you want me to troubleshoot this further 😉
Thanks so much Janice. My method involves a 5 min instantpot pressure cook of 1kg Seville oranges and one lemon. I then remove pulp and pips, shred the peel. Next step is to dissolve the sugar, add the peel and boil. I suspect I am not adding in enough water at the start for the pressure cook? Recipe says reduce the amount of water for a pressure cook version as no evaporation…. but then I lose the water at the boiling stage. I really appreciate any thoughts or advice from you?
I also use less sugar than recipe - 1kg not 2kg. Basically I think I am doing it all wrong!
So you are using half the sugar that your recipe recommends? This is a huge difference in quantities which likely accounts for your lower yield, no? I'd think that might be the culprit in this case because it sounds like you are doing everything right. Remember the role of sugar is to trap water along with the pectin from the peel of the citrus fruit. WIth less sugar, you won't want to add more water because this will lead to issues with the set of the marmalade, but also you will just have to boil it off so won't help you.
I think that if you want to make more jars of marmalade, start with more fruit and sugar. I hope this makes sense!
Hi Jayne, thanks for clarifying the method you are using. To achieve the perfect set, we do have to boil off a lot of the water and also we rely on sugar and pectin to trap the water. So I don't think adding water is the answer in this case.
Thank you so much. I didn’t realise the role of the sugar was so critical to the set!
I used to have terrible setting problems when making marmalade, until I came across a recipe that worked, but still a bit hit & miss, even when using added pectin.
After coming across Janice's marmalade setting point article, my marmalade now comes out perfect every time, and without pectin.
This year I've made three batches, same amount and consistency each time. I've just bottled up five 1lb jars; from 1 kg of Seville oranges, 2 lemons, 1.5 kg sugar & 2 litres of water. (If anyone would like the method, please let know).
I confess I do use an alternative method, but follow Janice's advice regarding temperature, albeit without a thermometer!
The visual signs after a fifteen-minute rolling boil, such as 'fish eyes blinking' are very helpful, also the marmalade gelling around the wooden spoon shaft just above the bowl I find useful.
Then confirm this with the cold saucer test.
This was incredibly helpful!! I just so happened to have made 20 jars of runny marmalade the other day and after carefully reading your instruction my husband and I fixed them and learned a lot in the process. Thank you so much for your efforts!