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Marmalade is a kind of fruit preserve prepared by boiling the juice and peel of a citrus fruit together with sugar and water. The Seville orange found in Spain is the original fruit from which the condiment was made initially. This particular type of orange contains a higher quantity of pectin which helps it to set properly. The peel has a distinct bitter after taste which has become the characteristic of every recipe.

It can also be made from lime, lemon, tangerines, grapefruits or sweet oranges. It can also be prepared by combining two or more of the fruits together. The Californian variety makes use of the sweet variety of orange which does not have the bitter taste associated with it. The English distinguish marmalades from jam or jelly by using only citrus fruits for preparing it. A recipe of the condiment in other parts of the world particularly Europe can also refer to any kind of fruit preservative. All fruit preserves are labeled as ‘marmaleda’ in Spain while it is specifically the quince marmalade which is known as ‘marmaleda’ in Portugal.

It is considered to be a breakfast condiment and is usually eaten on toast. Only the citrus fruit preserves which are pulpy in nature are sold under the specific name in the countries belonging to the European Union.

History of the Marmalade Recipe

The recipe had been passed onto the Romans from the Greeks who knew the art of preserving quinces by cooking them with honey until the condiment turned into a semi solid mass. Recipes of quinces and lemon appear in the book of ceremonies written during the times of the Byzantine Emperor, Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos.

The French recipe for both clear preserves as well as the pulpy went by the name of cotignac. The 17th century British, however, referred only to the citrus fruit preserves as marmalade.

Ingredients and the Traditional Marmalade Recipe

The traditional recipe is made with Seville oranges and requires both the bitter variety of oranges as well as the lemons. Sugar and water are the only other ingredients required for making the condiment which can be stored in airtight jars and consumed slowly over a period of time.

The fruits are scrubbed along with their skins and placed in a preserving pan initially although it is a good idea to simmer the fruits with a tougher rind for some time before adding sugar. The entire concoction of sugar, water and fruit is allowed to simmer slowly until it starts boiling. The next part of poaching the fruit takes almost three hours where the pan is covered completely with a double foil and allowed to simmer at a gentle pace. It is then removed from the flame and cooled before the oranges and lemons are cut and scooped out with the flesh and pips all going into the pan containing the fruit juice and sugar which is again heated for a few hours. The entire process spills over to the next day when the contents are filtered with the aid of a nylon sieve and orange peels added to it in the form of thin strips. The marmalade is then stored into jars and allowed to set for some time before it can be consumed. Using fruit pectin helps to reduce the cooking time considerably.

Storing Marmalades

  • A dry, clear day is ideal for making the condiment according to the traditional recipe.
  • Making small batches of marmalade at a time helps to prevent scorching.
  • Safe Canning procedures need to be implemented in order to give the condiment a long shelf life.
  • The unopened jars need to be stored in a cool and dry place until they are opened and kept refrigerated thereafter.
  • A mold like growth on the preserve indicates that the condiment is unfit for consumption.

Recipes Using Marmalades

It is a fruit preserve and is usually eaten on toast or scones. There are a number of recipes which make use of the condiment in order to add flavor to the dish. Some of the most popular recipes which use marmalade as ingredients are:-

  • Stuffed Acorn Squash- It is mixed with the cranberry filling for the acorn.
  • Bread Pudding- Applied on the bread pieces before baking.
  • Crepes- Used to flavor the thin syrup that is poured over the crepes.
  • Beef Brisket- Used as a topping or garnishing.
  • Irish Tea Brack- Added to the fruit mixture before baking.

Nutritive Value of Marmalades

The fruit preserve is high in calcium, iron and vitamins particularly vitamin C. There are no saturated fats or cholesterol contained in it with the sodium content being quite low as well. However, the amount of sugar in marmalade is very high and it needs to be consumed in moderation in order to keep healthy.


  • ‘Marmalade boy’ is a well known Japanese television series.