How to make marmalade – a traditional recipe from the late 19th Century

Granny Harris’ Everyday Marmalade – with chunky shreds (my Great Great Grandmother)

makes about 7lb/3kg

  • 2lb Seville oranges (juiced, pips collected, remaining skins minced)
  • 1-2 lemons, depending on their size (juiced, pips collected, remaining skins minced)
  • 4 pints water
  • 4lb granulated sugar

USEFUL STARTING POINTS (If you roughly know what you are doing feel free to move on and ignore this bit!)

  1. Make sure your pan is big enough! When the marmalade reaches a rolling boil it will rise up the pan – three to four times the volume. If it boils over it makes a MESS!
  2. Do you know how to test for a set? Read the instructions below if you are not sure.
  3. Make sure your spoon has a handle that is long enough – you don’t want to lose it in the hot marmalade, and you want to have your hands as far from the boiling, sticky mass as possible!
  4. Make sure you have the heat turned DOWN when you add the sugar, and wait for it to have completely dissolved before turning the heat back up. If the sugar burns, the marmalade is ruined. You will feel (using the spoon) that the sugar has all dissolved as it won’t be gritty on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Have enough jars (and lids that fit correctly) washed, dry and warming in the oven. We don’t have a dishwasher, so ours get a soapy wash, rinsed, then dried at 140oC. The jars are sterilised and just the right temperature for the marmalade; not too hot for the marmalade to bubble up in the jar, but hot enough not to crack when the hot marmalade is added.
  6. If you are using wax discs have these ready.
  7. A jam funnel and a heat proof jug, that pours nicely, are also useful for transferring the hot marmalade to the jam jars. These should also be washed and dried before using them.
  8. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time as this is not a job to be hurried.


Put the minced fruit in the preserving pan with the juice and the water. Put the pips into a muslin bag, fold in all the edges (you don’t want threads of muslin in your marmalade!) and tie securely to the pan, pushing the bag into the mixture. Leave to soak overnight.

The next day, heat the mixture until the volume has reduced by half. We have a spoon that we have marked the depth that needs to be reached as our pan does not have measurements on the inside. If your Maslin pan has the volume marked on inside then this job is easy! Remove the muslin bag and put it in a sieve over a jug to cool.

Add the sugar and once it has dissolved slowly bring the mixture to the boil. Meanwhile, squeeze the cooled muslin bag to extract all the useful sticky juice and tip this pectin-rich juice back into the pan.

Once a rolling boil is reached and the surface looks glassy, test for a set. If you are using a thermometer – 105oC is setting point.

Once setting point is reached allow the marmalade to cool for at about 10 minutes so the bits don’t float to the top.

Pot the hot marmalade into warm sterilised jars and seal. Fill the jar to the ‘neck’, where the jar bends and meets the screw thread.

Label your jars once cooled. If you jiggle them about too much when they are still warm the marmalade might seep over the top of the wax disc.

Shelf life – 2 years, but I doubt it will last that long! It is ready to eat immediately, although I would suggest you wait for it to cool down so that you don’t burn your tongue! Your marmalade will improve in flavour if it is left for about a month.

Additions and alterations – you can change the sugar type (light brown, dark brown, Muscovado, Demerara), add fresh grated ginger or crushed spices to the muslin bag, add some alcohol, add fruit pieces to the mixture (crystallised ginger, dried cranberries) I add 1tbsp of alcohol per 1lb of fruit at setting point. This means the alcohol itself evaporates leaving the flavour, so add alcohol that you like the taste of! Whisky, Bundaberg rum and Cointreau feature in some of my varieties.


Put a china saucer (or two) into the coldest part of your fridge, or freezer just after you have put your marmalade on to reduce in volume. Once you think your marmalade has reached setting point, turn off the heat. Stir the marmalade and drop a dollop from the spoon onto a cold plate. Put it back into the fridge and wait (impatiently) for TWO minutes! When the time is up, bring the saucer out and push the dollop with your finger. If the surface of the marmalade has formed a ‘skin’ and wrinkles when you push it – woo hoo you’ve made marmalade! If it doesn’t, not to worry, just bring the marmalade back to the boil again and keep boiling hard for 5 minutes, and then test for a set again. This is why it is useful to have more than one saucer prepared!

Just remember:

  • wait for two minutes with the saucer in the fridge,
  • with the heat off (you don’t want to over boil the marmalade – but a couple of minutes extra won’t be a disaster)
  • put the saucer back in the fridge to keep cool if you do have to continue boiling

If all this sounds like far too much hard work, come and taste some of Parkside Produce’s delicious marmalade selection at our next event. You won’t go away empty handed!

VERWOOD TABLE TOP SALE – Verwood Memorial Hall,

Saturday 28 January, 9.30am – 12.30pm

4 comments on “How to make marmalade – a traditional recipe from the late 19th Century

  1. or pop along and buy some from you 🙂

  2. I enjoy making a simple fruit jam with my children in the summer from collected berries but I’ve never made marmalade … I might have to give it a whirl 🙂

    • Give it a try! It’s not difficult (especially as you already make jam) it just takes time to prepare on day 1 and cook on day 2. Don’t start cooking if you need to be going out anywhere within a couple of hours! Good luck – let me know how you get on! 🙂

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