If you dream of spreading a sticky, sweet homemade orange marmalade recipe onto freshly baked croissants in the morning, then you’re in luck! This low sugar orange marmalade recipe, known to the French as confiture d’orange, is perfectly sweet, irresistible, and foolproof!
Sweet and Tangy Orange Marmalade Recipe
That said, it took me quite a while to figure out a recipe that was foolproof and spot on with the flavor and consistency.
The goal was to create an orange marmalade with peel (because we need that chunky texture!) that had mostly the sweet and tangy notes of an orange without the bitterness.
At this point, I’ve made this recipe over a dozen times and have found success each and every time, so I’m calling it a winner in my book.
I’ve also found out what tricks to use and what not to do when it comes to making a perfectly good orange marmalade for toast (or croissants!) at home.
What is the difference between orange jam and marmalade?
There really is no difference other than orange jam is obviously made with oranges, while marmalade can be made with many kinds of citrus fruits.
But if we’re talking about a difference between orange jam and orange marmalade, there is none.
To break it down, jam is typically cut up pieces of fruit and sugar. Jelly is made with fruit juice and sugar. Marmalade is cut up pieces of citrus with sugar.
What does orange marmalade taste like?
Orange marmalade is sweet and vibrant, much like orange juice.
Unlike other jams, such as strawberry or raspberry, orange marmalade has a slight zest to it from the citrus component.
While it’s never sour the way a fresh lemon is, the zing from the orange helps cut through the sweetness the way citrus tends to do in dessert recipes.
Can you use any oranges for marmalade?
Yes, you can! The most sought after oranges for marmalade tend to be Seville, as they’re a bit bitter and acidic.
That said, my personal preference tends to be making a navel orange marmalade recipe.
Because I don’t like my marmalade bitter, I try to take all measures to prevent that, and one of those measures is to use navel oranges.
Why is marmalade bitter?
Marmalade tends to be bitter because the rind isn’t cooked well.
You see, marmalade isn’t just dependent on the type of orange you use.
One of the most important factors to preventing bitter marmalade is to cook the orange rind, or the orange peel, well.
I’m telling you, this is the more sure-fire, foolproof way to prevent bitterness in your marmalade.
How do you neutralize the bitter taste?
If you prefer your orange marmalade mostly sweet without any overtly bitter traces, then you’ll to need remove the thick, white part (called the pith) and cook the orange rind well.
I have searched high and low for special tricks I could use to help me out after trying numerous recipes with less than successful results.
Let me tell you, the solution to counteracting bitterness isn’t just to add more sugar.
While this isn’t a sugar free orange marmalade recipe, it is one that isn’t loaded with sugar.
It wasn’t until I came across Jacques Pepin’s trick for making marmalade that I discovered the secret to making this beloved foolproof jam.
Making marmalade this way means you don’t have to use as much sugar as most recipes to get the sweet marmalade you desire or to try and mask the bitterness (which doesn’t really work anyways).
Jacques Pepin has you boil the orange rind 3 times. You boil the rind in a couple of cups of water for 10 minutes, drain it, then add fresh water to the rind, and boil again.
Drain the pot, boil the rind again in fresh water for another 10 minutes, then drain.
Once you’ve boiled the rind for a total of 3 times, you’re ready to add the rest of the orange marmalade ingredients.
In the past, I had tried several orange marmalade, or orange jam, recipes from different cookbooks and Food Network stars.
Some lured me in with the false label of easy orange marmalade recipe while another was boasted as the best orange marmalade recipe.
But the thing is, orange marmalade isn’t as straightforward as other preserves.
Well, technically, you could. If you like really bitter orange marmalade, then by all means, do what I just said.
Having said that, you can still make an easy marmalade recipe at home with the right tricks up your sleeve.
How do you make marmalade at home?
Learning how to make orange marmalade from scratch is really simple. It’s all about prepping the oranges correctly and cooking the marmalade long enough.
You’ll want to first use a vegetable peeler, which allows you to remove the orange rind (an important, pectin-filled part of making marmalade) without also removing the bitter, thick white part of the orange.
Removing the rind this way is different than simply peeling an orange. When you peel an orange, you’re removing the outside skin and the thick white part.
We don’t want both; we only want the orange peel and none of the white layer.
You’ll then take a sharp knife (like a paring knife) and use it to cut the rind into smaller, matchstick pieces (aka julienne the orange rind).
These matchstick pieces are ideally cut thin and cut to be about 2 1/2 inches long.
Once you’ve cut up the rind, you’ll prep the rest of the orange by removing the pith (the thick white part) from the actual orange. Simply use your knife to carve off the thick white part.
You should be left with the fleshy orange part of the fruit. You should also be able to see the faint white lines on the orange that segment the orange into slices.
Use your knife to cut along those segment lines and actually divide your oranges up into slices. If there are any thick leftover white pieces (such as the core of the orange), you can simply discard those.
Once you’re done boiling the rind using the Jacques Pepin method, you’ll cook the orange rind with the orange slices, some sugar, some lemon juice, and some water.
You’ll bring the contents of the pot to a boil then reduce the heat and let it simmer away for almost an hour.
After that, you can add a pinch of ground cinnamon (optional) and then pour the resulting marmalade into a clean jar.
The result is a perfectly sweet orange marmalade with no trace of bitterness.
Can I reduce the amount of sugar in marmalade?
You’ll want to be careful about reducing the amount of sugar when you’re making orange marmalade.
The sugar in the recipe is not just added for sweetness; instead, it also helps gel the ingredients together to create a sticky, thick consistency.
Thankfully, this recipe is already pretty low-sugar compared to most marmalade recipes.
How long do you boil marmalade for?
After you’ve added all your ingredients to the pot, you’ll want to bring the contents to a boil. This takes about 5 to 6 minutes.
Once it’s boiling, you’ll reduce the heat to medium-low and let the marmalade simmer for about 40 to 50 minutes.
For firmer marmalade, boil for the full 50 minutes. If you like your marmalade a little more spreadable, then boil it for 40 minutes.
Just note that the marmalade will firm up well once it’s chilled in the fridge. See more below.
How long does it take for orange marmalade to set?
Once the orange marmalade has been simmering for 40 minutes, it should be at a point where it has begun to set.
Note: The marmalade will still look a bit runny at this point, but it will firm up a lot as it cools.
You can test your marmalade by sticking a plate in the freezer ahead of time. Then after 40 minutes, you can test readiness by pouring a little bit of marmalade on the frozen plate.
Tip the plate onto its side and look to see how much the marmalade runs.
If it runs a lot, then the marmalade may need a little longer to cook. If it runs a little bit but stops in its tracks, then your marmalade is ready.
How do you thicken orange marmalade?
Thankfully, the orange rind has natural pectin in it, so you won’t need to add anything extra to thicken your orange marmalade.
Pectin is naturally found in many fruits and is a setting agent that helps bind everything together in jams, preserves, and jellies.
With a little help from the splash of lemon juice in this recipe, the pectin from the orange rind and the added sugar work quickly together to form that perfect marmalade consistency.
Orange marmalade canning instructions
You can definitely can this orange marmalade recipe at home, should you decide to do that. This particular recipe is designed to yield a small batch (a little over 1 pint-size jar), but if you were to double or triple the recipe, then you may want to can it.
Just know that if you are going to double or triple this recipe, the cooking times will vary from the instructions below (it will take longer for the liquid to reduce and the marmalade to set), so be conscious of that.
- Wash and rinse half-pint canning jars; pre-sterilize and keep hot until ready to fill.
- Pour the hot marmalade into clean, hot mason jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.
- Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth.
- Place the lids and bands on the jars, tightening the bands until they are finger-tight.
- Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minute, or according to your canner’s instructions
- Remove the jars from the canner and let them cool on a towel-lined countertop for 24 hours.
- Check the seals of the jars by pressing down on the center of the lid. If it doesn’t move, the jar is sealed. If it pops up and down, the jar is not sealed and should be refrigerated and used within a few months. If you want to try resealing it:
- Remove the lid and check the rim of the jar for any nicks or cracks that could prevent a proper seal.
- Clean the rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth.
- Replace the lid with a new, clean lid. Screw the band on until it is finger-tight
- Process the jar in a boiling water bath for the recommended time
- Remove the jar from the canner and let it cool on a towel-lined countertop for 24 hours
- Same as before, check the seal of the jar by pressing down on the center of the lid. If it doesn’t move, the jar is sealed. If it pops up and down, the jar isn’t sealed and should be refrigerated.
Notes to Keep in Mind
- The key to getting orange marmalade that sets is to cook it long enough that it has set. To test readiness, stick a small plate in the freezer ahead of time so that it’s super chilled and cold. After your marmalade has been simmering for about 40 minutes, pour some of the marmalade onto the frozen plate. Tip the plate, then look to see how much it runs. If it runs a lot, then it needs more time to cook. If it runs a little but stops in its tracks, then your marmalade is ready.
- It’s important to boil the rind 3 times, as instructed in the recipe card. This may be the most repetitive part of the recipe, but it’s an important part of Jacques Pepin’s famous trick for ensuring the marmalade is left without a trace of bitterness.
- Be mindful of your orange marmalade as it cooks. Make sure to give it a stir every 5 minutes to prevent it from bubbling up and overflowing; jam has a tendency to do that!
- If you refrigerate your marmalade and find that it’s too firm after it’s been chilled, it’s likely that you overcooked your jam. You can fix it by warming up the marmalade in the microwave for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, then pouring the marmalade into a saucepan over the stove. Heat up about a cup of water in a kettle (or just use the hottest water you can get from you sink) and add that to the marmalade. Stir over medium-low heat until the marmalade just begins to bubble again.
Have extra marmalade on hand? Make my marmalade breakfast muffins for a delicious treat:
- 2 medium navel oranges
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- small pinch of ground cinnamon
- Use a vegetable peeler to remove a thin layer of the orange rind off the oranges. Use a sharp knife to julienne the rind and create matchstick pieces. If the pieces of rind are really long, cut them in half so that they're no longer than around 2 1/2 inches in length.
- Now, use the knife to remove the thick white part from the actual oranges, tossing the white parts in the trash. You only want to keep the fleshy orange part of the fruit. Look for the faint white segment lines along the orange, and cut along those lines to divide the whole oranges into individual slices. After you cut the oranges into slices, discard any thick white stem parts (the core of the orange) that may have been stuck to the inside of the slices. Temporarily put the orange slices aside.
- Fill a medium saucepan with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the julienned orange rind and continue boiling over medium high heat for 10 minutes. Drain the water from the saucepan, then fill the saucepan with 2 cups of water again (keeping the orange rind in the saucepan). Place the saucepan over the stove over high heat and set the timer for 10 minutes (it's okay that it hasn't begun to boil yet when you start the time). One last time, drain the water from the saucepan and then fill with 2 cups water, place over high heat, and set the timer for 10 minutes.
- Drain the water from the saucepan and now, to the rind in the saucepan, add the orange slices, the sugar, the lemon juice, and 2 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. After about 6 minutes, the contents of the pot should be boiling. Reduce the heat to medium-low so that the mixture is simmering.
- Cook the marmalade for 40 more minutes, giving it a stir every 3 to 5 minutes. You want to stir it frequently to keep the contents from overflowing in the saucepan. After 40 minutes, the marmalade should look a lot thicker, although it still won't be as thick as it will be once it cools. The oranges will be bathing in liquid rather than completely swimming like they were at the beginning. The amount of bubbly foam in the saucepan will be a lot less too. You can test its readiness by pouring some marmalade onto a plate that's been set to chill in the freezer beforehand. Tip the plate on its side and if the marmalade runs a little but stops in its tracks, then the marmalade is ready. If it keeps running, then you marmalade probably needs a little longer (test again in 10 minutes).
- Once the marmalade is ready, stir in the ground cinnamon (optional), then pour the jam into a jar and let it rest on the counter until room temperature. Place the lid on top and chill in the fridge - it will firm up more as it cools.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1681