How to Make Marmalade Correctly (A 50-Year Canner’s Advice)

Of all the types of preserves out there, marmalade is one that seems to have a bit of mystery about it. But really, all the types are similarly made. Jelly is made from juice extracted from fruit; jams preserve the pulp of fruit; and preserves simply cook down the whole fruit (minus the peels, of course) until it is naturally thickened without adding pectin.

Marmalade is made from whole citrus fruits, including the peel, and is prepared like jam. It looks like jelly that has citrus peels suspended in it.

While one of the more popular marmalades is made from Seville oranges which are quite bitter, marmalade can be made from any of the different orange varieties and any other type of citrus.

Four jars of marmalade ready to give as a gift

How To Make Marmalade


  • ¾ cup grapefruit peel
  • ¾ cup orange peel
  • ⅓ cup lemon peel
  • 1-quart cold water
  • Pulp of 1 grapefruit
  • Pulp of 4 medium oranges
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups granulated sugar

Yield: 3 to 4 8-ounce jars


  1. Prepare a boiling water bath pot and wash and sterilize the jars. Prepare lids according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Prepare the Fruit:
  • Wash and peel the fruit. Be sure to get some of the white membrane underneath the peel because that is where the natural pectin is stored.
  • Thinly slice the fruit peel, place it into a saucepan, add the quart of cold water, cover, and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes or until the peels are tender. Then drain the liquid from the peels.
  • Remove the seeds and membrane and chop the fruit into small pieces.

Make the Marmalade:

  1. Combine the chopped fruit, the cooked peels, 2 cups boiling water, and 3 cups of sugar in a jelly pot or Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the marmalade measures 220℉ at sea level.
  2. Remove the marmalade from the heat, skim the foam, and pour into the hot, sterilized jars, leaving ¼” headspace.
  3. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean, damp cloth, add lids and rings, and place the jars into the boiling water bath.
  4. Once the water in the boiling water bath pot comes back to a full rolling boil, process pints and half pints for 5 minutes.
  5. After processing, remove the jars from the boiling water bath pot to a prepared area and let them sit, undisturbed for 12-24 hours.
  6. Check the lids for a good seal, wash and dry the jars, label them, and store them.

For complete information on how to make jam, jelly, and other homemade fruit products, check out my complete guide to canning.

Note: The recipe in this article calls for granulated sugar, which works with the other ingredients to help preserve the marmalade. I don’t recommend adjusting the sugar in this recipe unless you add a box of fruit pectin for low or no sugar needed recipes and follow package directions.

The other alternative is to find a recipe from a reliable source that has already adjusted the recipe to use either no sugar or a sugar substitute. Keep in mind that when using a sugar substitute, the marmalade will not be as firm as when using the full sugar recipe.

Related The 9 Best Substitutes For Sugar in Jam or Jelly Making.

How Marmalade Tastes

If you have never had marmalade, you are in for a treat. The taste is a combination of sweet and tart, with a touch of bitter flavor added by the citrus peel.

Citrus Varieties Marmalade Can Be Made From

Marmalade can be made from any variety of citrus, including sweet oranges, bitter oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, mandarin oranges, bergamots, kumquats, navels, valencias, nectarines, and clementines. 

These are only a few of the many citrus varieties, and any citrus or combination can be used. In fact, the recipe mentioned above is a combination of grapefruit, orange, and lemon.

How To Use Marmalade

Marmalade can be used like any other jam or jelly and is primarily used as a spread for biscuits, toast, scones, and rolls. But here are a few other ways that you can use marmalade:

  • Add marmalade to your favorite yogurt for a real flavor treat.
  • Spoon marmalade over slices of Brie on a baking sheet, broil just until the Brie melts, and serve with Captains Wafers or other snack crackers for a spectacular appetizer or snack plate that will gain you rave reviews.
  • Use marmalade as a topping for waffles and pancakes instead of syrup.
  • Make an old-fashioned jelly cake using marmalade instead of jelly for the cake topping.
  • Top desserts or ice cream with marmalade.
  • Add marmalade to a pan sauce to serve over meat.
  • Fill crepes with your favorite marmalade.
  • Add marmalade to your homemade salad dressing.
  • Spice up your barbecue sauce with marmalade.

Shelf Life Of Marmalade

The shelf life of marmalade is the same as jam, jelly, and other fruit preserves. The recommended shelf life of homemade fruit preserves of all kinds is one year. 

But, if the marmalade is made by an approved recipe, was made by using the boiling water bath canning method, and was stored properly, it will last for up to 5 years. There may be a little discoloration of the marmalade after 3 or 4 years, but the quality should remain unchanged.

Best Way To Store Marmalade

The best and safest way to store sealed and unopened marmalade is going to be the same as jam and jelly. To maintain the best quality home canned food like jam, jelly, and marmalade that has been made with full sugar and has been processed by using approved canning methods should be stored by these guidelines:

  1. In a cool space, where the temperature should remain fairly constant between 50℉ and 70℉.
  2. In a space that is dark and is never exposed to direct or indirect sunlight or bright light of any kind.
  3. In a pantry or storage area that is dry and as free from high humidity as possible.

If your marmalade is made by a recipe that is not boiling water bath canned or is not being stored in good canning jars with new lids that are securely sealed, it should be either stored unopened in a refrigerator for up to approximately six weeks or in a freezer for up to a year.

Citrus Has Natural Pectin

The reason the recipe in this article doesn’t include pectin is that citrus, along with apples, are two of the highest fruits in natural pectin. The white pith underneath the zest on citrus is where most of the natural pectin is stored and is the reason this recipe instructs us to include a good bit of the pith when we are peeling the fruit so that there is sufficient pectin in the marmalade to thicken and form a good gel.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

Note: My favorite marmalade recipe is from the National Center For Home Food Preparation. For your convenience, I shared that recipe here, including the step-by-step process for making marmalade.

Anne James

Anne James has a wealth of experience in a wide array of interests and is an expert in quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, mixing drinks (bartending), and making jelly. Anne has a professional canning business, has been featured in the local newspaper as well as on the Hershey website, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is. With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass. Amazingly, she doesn’t need to reference many resources due to her vast wealth of experience. She IS the source. Anne wants nothing more than to pass on her extensive knowledge to the next generations, whether that be family or anyone visiting her website, her YouTube channel, or

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