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LH 36: Secrets to a Good Marmalade

Welcome to Episode #36 of the Living Homegrown Podcast!

Today’s podcast is on the secrets behind making a good marmalade. 

I find people either love or hate marmalade.

But in most cases the people who think they hate it, really just have not tasted homemade marmalade.

Honestly, there is NO comparison between store-bought and homemade. A good marmalade is bursting with flavor and is a unique combo of sweet and sour that just dances on the tongue!

If you are someone who doesn’t think you like marmalade, I hope you at least listen so you have a better appreciation for what goes into making it. And hopefully you will get a chance to taste homemade yourself some day soon.

You learn:

  • How I prevent marmalade prep time overwhelm
  • The reason you MUST use organic fruit in your marmalade
  • The trick for getting the peel to be the perfect texture
  • What one ingredient prevents further peel cooking in an instant
  • Top equipment recommendations that make the process easier
  • The secret to getting proper suspension in the jar

Resources & Links Mentioned:

Marmalade: Sweet and Savory Spreads for a Sophisticated Taste* by Elizabeth Field



Click here for the full transcript for Episode #36 


For More About This Podcast Series:

Check out podcast Episode 00 to get:

  • The whole scoop on what this podcast series is all about
  • My background, experience & training
  • What to expect going forward

It’s like an audio “about” page for the podcast.


Thank you so much for listening!

If you liked this episode, I would love for you to help me spread the word.

There are three easy ways you can do that (listed below).

  1. Share this episode via the social media buttons below.
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Have a Question?

Do you have a canning/homesteading question you’d like answered on a future podcast episode?

Ask me on my Ask Theresa page – It’s easy!

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy® and is the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two teenage boys and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.


  • Craig Halle says:

    Dear Theresa:
    I never knew how marmalade was made until now. In fact I had no interest as I only tasted the commercial marmalade. I still don’t know if I have the stamina and courage to try it, but maybe next year. I enjoyed all your tips and I will have to listen again if I decide to proceed. It would be easier to pull this off if I lived in CA. I would surely grow my own citrus and then I would have a good reason to persist.
    I totally agree with your decision to take the last two weeks of the year off. When I was in business nothing much happened the last half of December through the first half of January, except we sat there bored and wishing we could spend the time with family. I hope since you are in control, you will make this an annual tradition. After all, we are all busy too and you do such a good job and are so excellent at this you are well worth waiting 2 short (quick!!!) weeks for.
    Please dwell on the fun times you had with your Dad and even though you will still miss him you will have smiles on your faces. Happy holidays have a great time and I will do my best to do the same.


    • theresa says:

      Thanks so much Craig. Good advice on soaking in the 2 weeks off. I have never done this before, but it just felt right this year.

      And I am glad you listened to the marmalade episode even though you didn’t plan on making it. It was my hope that people would listen and at least have an appreciation for how it is made. Sounds like mission accomplished!

      And lastly, thank you so very much for your kind words on grieving my Dad. Much appreciated – truly. I plan on following your advice.
      Happy holidays to you as well.

  • Tori says:

    Hello Theresa,
    I wanted to express my thanks and gratitude for your excellent teaching, generous information and inspiration over the past few months. I learned much from you and have improved. The marmalade episode was great.
    Question: I was a little confused about the pith. Learned (maybe incorrectly) to soak then cook the julienned peel already separated from the pith. As you said
    the pith and seeds are kept for pectin extraction in a cheesecloth bag, cooked then tossed out. Sometimes the membrane of the fruit, especially in grapefruit, is really tough. It left an unpleasant texture that did not fully cook out in the pulp. In that case is the “Royale” or Jewel technique for preparing citrus for a salad advisable? The British love their marmalades and I enjoyed reading many articles from food writers and cooks last year about making the perfect marmalade. Your information is right up there. Wishing you a holiday filled with rest, renewal and joy.

    • theresa says:

      Hi Tori-

      I’m so glad you have learned from the content here. (made my day to know that!)

      You are correct about the pith and maybe I didn’t make that clear, so let me explain because the peel is separated from the pith.

      First as you know, the pith and seeds carry the most pectin. This recipe has 50/50 sugar. That fact, plus the smaller amount of pectin that can be found in the colored part of the skin is enough to gel. However, many recipes DO call for you to bag up the pith and seeds and cook it in a bag or cheesecloth and then remove it out. The pith is not pretty, so you don’t want it floating in the finished product. However, it DOES have tons of pectin. So it is nice to have it cooked to extract that pectin. In this recipe, I use a potato peeler to remove the colored part of the skin and julienne that. There is always a little bit of pith included. But it stays “pretty”. So there is no pith in my recipe. Does that make sense?

      So, you are correct that the pith is usually separated and cooked. In this recipe, I am not doing that. But the high sugar helps with the gel and after making this one several times, I have never had a problem. But I also use the thermometer to verify I am at the gel stage rather than using the spoon test as I do with regular jams.

      As for the membrane…YES, if you have a citrus that has a particularly tough membrane (the part that separates the meat of the citrus), then segmenting the citrus by cutting out just the “meat” of the fruit would eliminate that. I should do a post on how to do that. But in case anyone doesn’t know what you and I are talking about, here is a great illustration:

  • Amy P. says:

    I LOVED this podcast. I have been craving real homemade marmalade even though I have never had it or made it. I just know it has to be amazing. Fresh locally grown citrus is not easy to come by in Oklahoma. Our winters are too cold to grow the trees outdoors. But after listening to this, I may just have to try to find a way to order some organic citrus from neighboring Texas. 😉

  • Amy says:

    I must be doing something wrong here…I’ve peeled the skin of 2 large oranges, 1 small orange and 1 lemon with a sharp veggie peeler, and julienned it. It’s come to a scant half cup. Maybe I should be doing a thicker peel?

  • Barbara says:

    Hi Theresa–i have a TON of lemons and was wondering if i could just substitute lemons for oranges i your recipe or if there is a better recipe for lemon marmalade. Is lemon marmalade even a thing?

    • theresa says:

      Hi Barbara,

      I’m not sure if a direct substitution would work as the ratio of acid might not be exactly right to get a good gel. I suspect it would work, but don’t want you to waste your time in case it is off a bit. But yes, lemon marmalade IS a thing and it is an AWESOME thing. Here is a recipe you might want to try:

      • Barbara says:

        Thanks! I went ahead and did it. I had planted a little lemon tree this past summer and had a big crop–so I harvested 6 of them, and just went for it. I needed to bump up the sugar, because–well–lemons! It is delicious, but its a little odd on toast. I think maybe best to do half and half next time, (lemons and oranges) OR, go with Meyer Lemons. I love the taste, but its a wee bit acidic. Anyway. The amount of lemons I had yielded only about 1 1/2 cups of marmalade, so just the right amount for an experiment. So far I’ve made your applesauce, your berry moonshine, and now your marmalade! I am growing blueberries in containers on my patio, and I’m a grateful podcast subscriber. I even plug your podcast in my podcast How You Can Save The World because I think you are truly WONDERFUL!

        • theresa says:

          Ahhhh…Barbara, I love that. Thank you! And I’m glad you had success with the lemons. I’m telling ya, it would probably make an excellent glaze on a roasted chicken…Just say’n.

  • David says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, you give some great information all in good grace as well. Much appreciated.
    A friend recently asked me to help pick her citrus and lucky for me I found that one of the trees with some great looking oranges was actually the rootstock that had overgrown the graft which has died off. So loaded with really sour oranges that you couldn’t eat. I don’t think they’re Seville’s but I know they did used to use sour orange as rootstock. Anyway now have a good source of sour oranges that make a fabulous marmalade, ended up with 28 jars so got a bit carried away. Amazingly after all that sugar still has a great sweet bitter balance. All thanks to some great tips you provided.

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