Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | May 28, 2012


        An ornamental orange tree my wife Marian bought has been growing in and out of our house for the past 20+ years.  Last year, for the first time, it produced about 24 little oranges.  They were inedible, more sour than a lemon and very bitter, but they had the strongest orangy, citrusy smell of any orange I’ve ever encountered.  I have since learned that these oranges (better know across the Atlantic as Seville Oranges) are grown in Spain, Italy, the south of France and other warm places as decoratives and the fruit they produce sold to flavor Grand Marnier, perfumes, soaps, lotions and other things.  But, the British, in their quest to create the finest flavored jam, use these little oranges to make marmalade.  Since I love English marmalade and, not wanting to waste these beautiful fruits, I harvested ours and attempted to convert them to Orange Marmalade.  My endeavor was totally successful.  There is no place in the USA where one can buy a maralade with such a fantastic flavor.  Since I promised my friends, who have tasted my marmalade, to divulge the recipe, it is below. 

Potted Bitter Orange Tree Growing on Deck.


10 – 14 Bitter oranges (depending on size). Commercially these oranges are difficult to obtain, but are know as Seville Oranges. They are common in Europe (Italy, Spain, and the south of France), but can be obtained in the USA.

2 moderately sized lemons (Meyer Lemon have the best flavor for marmalade, but regular lemons will work.  Luckily, Marian also has one of these growing on the deck.  It has produced fruit for the past 8 or 10 years.)

6 cups of sugar.  This quantity of sugar, sweetens, but maintains the strong bitterness of the marmalade. (Additional sugar can be added if additional sweetness is desired.)

8 cups of water

1 pack of Sure-Jell®

Cooking equipment

4 – 8 quart pan with lid



Candy thermometer

Sharp knife

12 cup-sized or 8 oz. jelly jars with screw and inner lids. (See below)

Non-absorbing cutting board

A small dish or saucer.

Tongs sufficient to grab and hold jelly jar

Oven mitts or gloves

A medium-sized bowl

Potted Meyer Lemons Growing on Deck


Wash fruit. Do not peel. Remove stem connection. Taking one fruit at a time, cut each in half and then slice each half in thin slices. Cut large end pieces (these will be mostly skin) into smaller ones. Remove seeds from the many semi-circular pieces as best you can. (When the half orange and lemon chunks are thinly sliced, some of the juice of the fruit will ooze out, Try not to lose this juice.) Cut all slices, except the large end, which you have already chopped into smaller chunks, in half. Dump the slices and accumulated juice into the large pan. Once all the slices are in the pan, pour in the 8 cups of water. Stir, cover the pan, and bring to boil over medium heat. Once mixture is boiling, reduce heat. Allow mixture to simmer for 30 minutes, periodically stirring. Turn off heat. Pour in sugar while stirring mixture. Continue stirring for about two minutes to insure all sugar is dissolved. Cover mixture, allow to cool to room temperature, and let stand at room temperature for 18 – 24 hours.

Upon completing the mellowing period, lightly stir the mixture. The few seeds of the oranges and lemons that were not removed earlier will float to the surface and can be carefully scooped out and discarded.

Put small dish or saucer in the freezer. Prepare Jelly Jars (see below).

Again bring mixture to boil, stirring periodically. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium, sufficient to maintain a slow boil, and allow mixture to cook uncovered for two hours, stirring occasionally. After 2 hours, using the candy thermometer, measure temperature of mixture. It should be near or between 220o F and 222o F. (For best jelling results the temperature should be 221o F). Temperature should not be allowed to go above 224o F, otherwise marmalade will taste burnt. Continue cooking until proper temperature is achieved..

When proper temperature is reached, dissolve packet of Sure-Jell, i.e., mix Sure-Jell in a 2/3 cup mixture of water and cooking marmalade (about 1:1). While simmering and stirring the marmalade, pour in the Sure-Jell solution. Continue cooking and stirring for 5 or 10 minutes or more – depends on temp of marmalade mixture. Mixture will slightly thicken — check temperature.  Ladle up a few drops of mixture and drip onto frozen dish. The puddle of mixture should gel and, when touched, form wrinkles on its surface and when dish is turned vertically, the puddle will not run down. If the gel tests work the marmalade is ready to be ladled into the jelly jars for storage.

Carefully, using tongs and oven mitts, remove a jar from the oven and ladle a quantity of marmalade into a jar. Hint: Best to put jar in a bowl while filling to catch spills. Fill to within 1/4 inch of top. Remove an inner lid from the oven and place over the mouth of the jar, then secure it with an outer screw lid. Tighten the lid and put jar aside. Fill the others. Allow jars of cool at room temperature. When you hear the inner lids ping, the jar is sealed. Tapping the top of the inner lid after the jar have cooled.  A solid thud indicates the jars have totally sealed and can be stored in a pantry for later use. Bon appétit.

Sterilization of Jelly Jars and lids

Wash jars and inner lids in dishwasher. Arrange washed jars on towel paper, open end down. Do likewise with inner lids (inside of lid should be face down). Prior to ladling mixture into jars, put jars (mouth of jar up) and inner lids (inner side up) on a cookie sheet or suitable oven-proof tray and into an oven for at least 15 min at 250 – 275o F. Keep everything hot until ready to use.

© 2012 Richard Modlin


  1. Your “little oranges” may be sour; however as a Native Floridian and the great-granddaughter of an Orange Grower, this story is too sweet. ~Melonie M. King

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