If you catch yourself in the grocery looking at jams, jellies, and marmalades and wondering how one is different from the other, you are not alone. Without the label, it is easy to confuse one with the other. Maybe this could help:
You can call it a jam if it contains whole fruits or cut up pieces of fruit and it is preserved using sugar. Without a trace of the actual fruit, it could be made from just the fruit juice, which makes it a jelly. If the fruit that was used is a citrus fruit and the preserve includes the rind, then you can call it a marmalade.
It may sound odd because it goes against the common practice of eating fruit, but when it comes to marmalade, we include the rind (some call it peelings or skin). For one, rind contains natural pectin which acts as a thickening and setting agent.
Marmalade is a favorite especially among the British. But marmalade’s origin is rooted in a different country – in Portugal, to be exact. Marmalade is derived from the Portuguese word marmelos which refers to a quince paste. It is a marmalade back when there wasn’t a marmalade yet. And as the name suggests, it is made from quince. A quince is a tree fruit that bears a bright, golden yellow pome fruit that looks like a pear.
- Scottish Janet Keiller of Dundee city is considered as the first person to commercialize marmalade, doing it in the late 1700s.
- The use of the term marmalade to refer to jam or fruit preserve was adopted sometime in the late 1500s.
- Traditional marmalade is made from bitter orange, although other citrus fruits can also be used like lemons, limes, grapefruits, mandarins, sweet oranges, and bergamots.
- One of the earliest mentions of marmalade is from the 1677 recipe book written by Eliza Cholmondeley.
- The most expensive jar of marmalade has a tag price of £5,000.
Marmalade Buying Guide
Check for expiration date – The first thing to always do when buying commercially-produced processed food items like marmalades is to check the expiration date or best before date. While stores are usually diligent in removing stocks from the shelf days before they expire, it is not impossible that an expired item was left on the shelf and it is unfortunate if it is you who gets to buy them and your family gets to eat them. Checking for an expiration date or best before date is just due diligence expected from anyone grocery shopping.
Check for tampering – Another due diligence when grocery shopping is checking items for possible signs of tampering that could compromise the quality of the product. In the case of marmalades, check the plastic seal of the lid, the label, and if there are any chips, cracks, or any damage on the glass container.
Check the ingredients. The packaging contains information like ingredients and if you are observing a particular guideline for your diet, you can see if there is something in the jar of marmalade that is not suitable for you so you can avoid buying and eating it. An example is your intake of sweets and sugars. If you have a health condition that discourages the high consumption of sugar, it is better if you buy sugar-free marmalade.
What marmalade are you looking for? – There are a lot of marmalade choices in the store – different brands, different kinds, and different sizes. Orange marmalade is common, but you will also see grapefruit, lemon, and other fruits used for marmalade. You can buy your usual preference or you can also try something new.
Marmalade Production & Farming in Texas
Marmalade in Texas – There are Texas-based businesses that make marmalade, often as a seasonal offering, like the orange vanilla bean marmalade and orange chili marmalade from a South Austin bakery specializing in small-batch, locally-sourced preserves. The seasonal availability of small-batch marmalades in Texas possibly coincides with the harvest season for citrus fruits, which begins around October until April, since small businesses making home-made marmalades depend on local supplies. To supplement the production of local, Texas-based small businesses, select Texas retail outlets selling artisanal, small-batch home-made preserves sourced all over the US provide locals with other choices. Groceries and supermarkets sell popular commercial marmalade brands all year.
Texas producers have a wide variety of selections for oranges and other citrus fruits that they can use to make marmalade. These are the common Texas citrus varieties: navel, Marrs, Pineapple orange, Hamlin, and Valencia (oranges); Marsh, Ruby Red, Henderson/Ray, Rio Red, and Star Ruby (grapefruit); Satsuma, Owari, Clementine tangerine, Dancy tangerine, Changsha tangerine, Orlando tangelo, and Minneola tangelo (mandarins and tangelos); Calamondin, Mexican lime, Tahiti lime, Nagami kumquat, Meiwa kumquat, Meyer lemon, Ponderosa lemon, Eureka lemon, and limequat (acid citrus).
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
It is not new to hear of marmalades laced with pesticide residue, especially since rind or peeling are used in making marmalade. In a 2014 research published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology (Effect of handling and processing on pesticide residues in food- a review), Usha Bajwa and Kulwant Singh Sandhu wrote: “The residue of organophosphorus pesticides in strawberries after cooking decreased with preparation process. Same results were observed during marmalade preparation from oranges. However, marmalade prepared from grapefruit showed that the residual level in the grapefruit marmalade was 42%, being slightly different from that in orange marmalade.”
This is where buying from businesses using organic fruits becomes advantageous, health-wise because organic fruits are not exposed to pesticides. You can also read the label on the jar and opt for those that say “pesticide-free marmalade.”
Marmalades, especially commercially-produced brands, contain additives.
- Sodium benzoate – Also known as Synthetic Preservative 211 or E211, sodium benzoate is used to preserve food, typically those that contain citrus or acidic ingredients.
- High fructose corn syrup – Also known as HFCS, this is an artificial sugar made from corn syrup. In marmalades, HFCS helps increase the sweetness to make it more appealing to the consumers.
- Citric acid – Also described in packaging as an acidity regulator, E 330, or acidity regulator 330, this additive helps improve the sour taste of the marmalade to mimic the natural taste of the citrus fruit.
- Natural flavors – Other natural flavors are added to marmalade to achieve the desired taste the manufacturer is going for.
- Fruit pectin – Sometimes labeled as thickener or thickener 440 or E440, this additive is used as a gelling agent, thickener, stabilizer, or emulsifier.
Marmalades are sold in jars in varying sizes. Commercially-produced marmalades are sold in resealable glass jars with a freshness seal and label that indicates important information for consumers like expiration date, nutrition data, etc. Home-made and artisanal small-batch marmalades are usually sold in mason jars.
Packaging practices should adhere to federal and state laws and regulations. It should follow the guidance set by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on commercial and home canning. In Texas, businesses should adhere to the Texas Cottage Food Law, which covers the practices of pickling, canning, and fermenting.
Marmalade is a favorite spread for breakfast toasts because the sweetness of the marmalade contrasts with the slightly bitter taste of toasted bread. But if you think that this is the only way to eat marmalade, you should consider using it as a filling for a tart or as a sweet topping for biscuits or oatmeal. If you find your grilled cheese ordinary and unappealing, add a marmalade the next time you make one. You can also use marmalade as a sweet element to your cake, cupcakes, or other baked goods. If you are daring enough to try mixing sweet and savory, try using marmalade while you cook your roast pork or ribs.
An unopened, hermetically-sealed jar of marmalade is safe at room temperature as long as it is not exposed for a long period to direct sunlight. After the jar or bottle is opened, make sure to refrigerate the marmalade. Refrigerated, a marmalade will keep for three months to a year.
Make your own homemade orange marmalade:
There are many reasons to consider why today is a good time to make your own homemade orange marmalade. It is always good to have marmalade in the fridge for the time you have a craving. It is not a good way to start your day if you want some marmalade for breakfast and there’s nothing in the pantry or fridge, right? Consider this also: a homemade orange marmalade is a healthy choice (orange is rich in Vitamin C!) over store-bought, commercially-produced marmalade because you know what you used in your homemade marmalade versus the additives found in a store-bought marmalade. Lastly, making marmalade is fun!
This recipe for homemade orange marmalade yields 3 pints.
- 5 lbs of ripe oranges
- 6 cups of sugar
- 4 cups of water
- Step 1. Wash the oranges and remove the orange zest using a sharp knife. Make sure to leave the white pith. This is usually the thick white surface you find underneath the orange peelings.
- Step 2. Chop the orange zest. You can chop them into smaller, ribbon-like strips or into big chunks depending on how you like to have them.
- Step 3. Remove the top and bottom ends of the zested oranges.
- Step 4. Remove the white pith.
- Step 5. Cut out the segment holding the orange together found in the core of the orange.
- Step 6. Set the membrane aside along with the seeds.
- Step 7. Put the zest, fruit, juice, sugar, and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved.
- Step 8. Put the seeds and membrane on a cheesecloth and tie the ends of the cloth to make a pectin bag.
- Step 9. Add the pectin bag to the pot. Boil. Set it at 220 F for five minutes. Do not stir.
- Step 10. Put freezer-safe plates in the freezer. Once chilled, bring it out and spread some of the marmalade on the plate. If your marmalade is set, your spoon will leave a trail.
- Step 11. Remove the pectin bag. Squeeze out any marmalade it has absorbed back into the pot. Let the mixture cool.
- Step 12. Use a ladle to transfer the marmalade into jars.
- Step 13. Follow standard canning protocols for food cleanliness and safety.