Bitter orange marmalade

Marmalade 2013: The finished product

I have been toying with the idea of making my own marmalade after tasting some at my mother-in-law’s place. Since my mum was still around and could help out with the prep work or with the kids, I thought why not churn some out. A quick search online didn’t yield much promise as a lot of recipes out there incorporate water into their jams whereas I prefer my jams to be just made up of fruit, sugar and gelling agent (pectin).

While grocery shopping for ingredients for the reunion dinner, I decided to see if I could find some bitter oranges, also known as Selville oranges, and came across a rather decent looking batch over at our usual grocery spot (Grand Frais). I bought nearly 2 kg of oranges. Then over the weekend, I approached my step-father-in-law (the one who makes most of the jam at my mother-in-law’s place) and asked him for a recipe. His proved to be quite simple and straightforward. When my sister-in-law showed up with a bag of juicing oranges, I decided to add those into the mix.

Marmalade 2013: Bitter/Selville oranges Marmalade 2013: Peeled oranges Marmalade 2013: Peel pieces Marmalade 2013: Pulp from juicing oranges

I must admit one thing – making marmalade is a lot of work, especially the prepping part. Removing and finely slicing the peel, boiling the peel until it’s soft, peeling off the pith, getting rid of the seeds and then slicing or getting out of the flesh while retaining the juice… It took us about 1 to 1.5 hours to get about 1.4 kg of pulp and juice. On hindsight, I should have measured the peel before cooking in – something I’ll have to do next time.

Marmalade 2013: Boiling peel strips Marmalade 2013: Cooking down the marmalade Marmalade 2013: An additional boost Marmalade 2013: Getting the marmalade to setting point

Then there is the cooking. I mixed the amount of jamming sugar and regular sugar which resulted in me having to cook my jam for longer than called for if I were to use cooking sugar. It took me about 30 minutes to get it to the desired consistency – I like my jams to be thick instead of runny. A thick consistency will help prevent the marmalade from dripping off toasts!

The finished product is very tangy, yet full of that lovely orange taste and smell. The extra boost in the form of Cointreau – orange liquor – which I added in during the cooking process is very subtle. The jam gives a slightly bitter after-taste which is normal if you’re using bitter oranges as your base. I put aside some in a ramekin as I didn’t have any small jars left but no worries, this will go down well for breakfast tomorrow (hm, I wonder how good are those coffee pots from cw-usa…).

Bitter orange marmalade


Approx 2 kg bitter oranges
8-10 medium sized juicing oranges
6 tbsp Cointreau
300 gms brown sugar
300 gms white sugar
950 gms gelling sugar


  1. Prep the jars by washing them (jar and lid) in boiling hot water. Set aside to dry.
  2. Wash the oranges well before drying them. Using a peeler, removing the zest from the bitter oranges. Take care not to cut too deep or remove the pith as well.
  3. Once all of zest has been removed, thinly sliced them into strips and place them in a pot. Add in enough water to cover the orange strips and cook over high heat until they reach a boil. Turn down the fire and simmer the mixture for at least 20-25 minutes. Remove the water and repeat the process again. When the peel has been cooked for the 2nd time, drain and set aside.
  4. Remove the pith & seeds from the bitter oranges while retaining the flesh and pulp. For the juicing oranges, only the pulp is required so slice the orange into half and proceed to remove the pulp. Some chunks of pulp or orange flesh is fine.
  5. Once ready, pour the orange pulp and juice into a pot before adding in the sugar and Cointreau. Cook over high heat until it boils and then turn down to a medium fire. Add in the zest and cook until you reach the right consistency.
  6. When ready, fill the jars to the maximum level, cover and tighten the lid. Once all the jars have been filled, wipe the outside clean and label them. Set aside to cool before storing them in a dark and dry place. If done well, jam should be able to keep for over a year.

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