What Is Marmalade?

Marmalade is a beloved fruit preserve found in kitchen cupboards across the world. It’s most commonly used as a spread on bread, toast, or even inside baked goods like cakes.

Marmalade certainly has an acquired taste, but for those who love it, marmalade is a staple.

What Is Marmalade?

Interestingly, not many people know what marmalade actually is. Sure, it tastes citrus-like, but what ingredients make up marmalade?

How is marmalade made? Who created marmalade?

If you’re confused about what marmalade is, you’ve come to the right place. Here is everything you need to know about marmalade!

So, What Is Marmalade?

Marmalade is a popular fruit preserve made from citrus fruits boiled in sugar and water.

While the most popular version of marmalade is predominantly made of oranges, other varieties include mandarins, sweet oranges, grapefruits, bergamots, lemons, limes, and combinations of the above.

The preserve is believed to originate from Ancient Rome, wherein quinces were slowly boiled with honey and cooled into a preserve-like texture.

The cooking method then involved other fruits, including lemon, apple, pear, and plum.

It wasn’t until 1677 when the first official recipe for marmalade was invented by Eliza Cholmondeley, wherein “Marmelet of Oranges” was a recipe creating a thick, firm paste of oranges.

It became less solid and more of a spread in the 18th century by the Scots.

Nowadays, marmalade is most commonly made and bought in the United Kingdom, but it can also be found in the United States and elsewhere.

It is most often served as a spread for toast, sandwiches, a filling for cakes, or a topping for British scones.

What Does Marmalade Taste Like?

Marmalade offers a mixture of sweet and tart flavors thanks to the combination of citrus fruit and sugar.

When boiled together, the sugar helps to soften the tartness and acidity of the citrus peel, creating a somewhat muted version of the citrus peel.

The texture is similar to jelly and will often contain chunks of citrus.

However, the flavor of the marmalade will depend on the type of fruit used to make it. So, an orange marmalade is going to taste different to a lemon marmalade.

The flavor will also depend on how you eat the marmalade, and if you pair it with another flavorful food.

How To Make Marmalade

There are several ways to make marmalade depending on what recipe you follow and what ingredients you use.

What Is Marmalade?

However, the general way to make marmalade uses up only two ingredients – the citrus fruit and granulated sugar.

The citrus fruits of your choice are first boiled until soft, which takes roughly an hour.

Once cool enough to hold, the insides of the fruit are scooped out and put into a muslin bag and added back to the pan.

The peel is cut into fine slices and also added to the pan. Finally, the sugar is added and stirred until dissolved.

After the mixture has boiled for roughly 10-15 minutes, it is then tested for its setting point.

To test whether the mixture is ready to set, simply take a small amount of the mixture into a small saucer and push your finger into it.

If the mixture wrinkles, it’s time to set. This can take up to 30 minutes, so it’s a matter of patiently waiting and trying again.

Once ready, the marmalade is then ladled into hot jars with the lid tightly closed. The marmalade is then allowed to cool for 24-48 hours until it has thickened and set.

How To Store Marmalade

The best place to store opened marmalade is in the refrigerator with the lid tightly closed. Even when opened, marmalade should last up to a year in the fridge.

Jars of unopened marmalade can be stored in a dark, cool, dry space and last for 1-2 years.

Homemade marmalade made without pressure canning or hot water will keep for up to 6 months either in the refrigerator or freezer.

While you can put marmalade in the freezer, this is generally discouraged, as it will lose its glorious texture.

Is Marmalade Healthy?

Marmalade isn’t the healthiest or unhealthiest fruit preserve. Despite its high sugar content, marmalade is filled with citrus fruits that are high in calcium, iron, dietary fiber, and antioxidants.

It is actually believed to relieve constipation and improve the natural immune system thanks to its antioxidant content.

However, it’s important to remember that marmalade contains a lot of sugar.

The sugar is necessary to battle the tartness and acidity of the citrus fruits (Check out another citrus-y fruit here) , without which, marmalade would not be enjoyable.

Marmalade actually contains more sugar than jam or jelly, making it the least healthy option compared to jams.

So, just because marmalade isn’t necessarily bad for you, doesn’t mean you should eat it by the spoonful and expect impressive weight loss.

Marmalade is a treat to be enjoyed with other foods, but it’s not exactly going to contribute to a decline in your health, either.

Marmalade Vs Jam

Jam is another popular preserve often likened to marmalade because they are cooked in more or less the same way, and used in similar applications.

The key difference between the two is that jam is a preserve of puréed or mashed fruits, making it a smoother and spreadable preserve compared to marmalade.

Virtually any fruit can be used to make jam, including raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries, but they’re not usually made with citrus fruits.

Citrus fruits, however, are used to make marmalade.

Other than the fruit itself, another difference is that marmalade typically uses slices of the peel and chunks of the fruit in the mixture, making for a satisfyingly chunky texture.

It’s typically thicker than jam and has a distinctly more tart flavor.

Some preserves are often labeled “marmalade” when they’re not made of citrus fruits or contain the peel, but these preserves aren’t real jars or marmalade. Instead, these are jams or jellies.


So, there you have it! Marmalade is a beloved preserve consisting of citrus fruits and sugar.

While it can be bought in any grocery store, marmalade is easy (and fun) to make at home.


Jeff Pratt
Latest posts by Jeff Pratt (see all)