Friday, February 1, 2013

Marmalade gets tipsy...

Orange Whiskey Marmalade
"I looove marmalade!" (she shouts and jumps up and down on Oprah's chair) It is the Katie Holmes to my Tom Cruise...well, when the love affair first happened. And I'm not planning to brainwash my marmalade or use it to get a seat on the big space ship after I die (or however that religion works). So I don't see us breaking up any time soon. I do, however, plan to get it a little drunk.

I've been wanting to make it for some time to use as a filling for a cake befitting of an autobiography I've been devouring. But regular marmalade just wasn't going to cut it. No. This had to have a touch of unsuspecting twist on a very popular flavor...slightly more posh than it appeared, but quietly so.

I came across this beautiful blog and recipe on Edible Ireland: Seville Orange Marmalade with Whiskey and Ginger and I knew it was just what my marmalade filling needed. Because I had a very specific cake in mind I chose not to add the ginger, but I certainly will on the next round. Also, Seville oranges are not available in small town Canada so I used navel oranges and adjusted the recipe a little. The key to this marmalade: the whiskey!

I have tried to like whiskey on its own but it's tricksy. It smells beautiful and full of caramel...I think we'll be friends, but when I have a taste, it sucker punches me. But in this marmalade it transforms to the flavor I've longed for. It is the best thing to ever happen to whiskey.

wash oranges really well, best to use organic.
let peels soak over night. helps activate the pectin
boil to 220 F
you'll know its ready when you put a few drops on a really cold plate and it firms enough to wrinkle when you push the drops.
I'm not a whiskey connoisseur but I was pretty sure this would serve the marmalade well.
let boiled and ready marmalade sit for 10 mins before adding the whiskey
make sure jars are sterilized
let firm up overnight
testing with orange cake and chocolate buttercream for new blog post.
Orange Whiskey Marmalade
Adapted from Edible Ireland

Makes 3.5 liters of marmalade
Just a note: this process could take 48 hours or longer before you're gobbling it up.

Edible Ireland says: When making preserves, you need to use spotlessly clean, sterile jars, lids and rings. If you have a dishwasher, you can simply run everything through a hot cycle. Otherwise, wash everything in hot, soapy water, rinse well, then place the jars and lids on a baking tray in an oven heated to 140°C (285°F) and keep them there until you’re ready to use them.

1 kg navel oranges (if you have access to Seville oranges - use those instead!)
10 cups water
4 lb granulated sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup whiskey
  1. Scrub the oranges well and cut each orange in half. It is best to use organic if you can find them.
  2. Squeeze the juice from the oranges and set aside. 
  3. Slice the peel, including the pith, into whatever thickness you like, i.e. thin or thick cut. *NOTE* the pith and peel is where the pectin lives. Don't scrape out the pith thinking it might make it too bitter. If the marmalade is going to set properly you need the pith.
  4. Put the orange peel slices into a large bowl along with the orange juice, then pour over the water. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave the oranges to soak for 24 hours.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a large preserving pan or nonreactive pan (such as an enameled cast iron Dutch oven). Make sure the pot is big enough to accommodate all the mixture so that none splashes out, as all that boiling sugar can burn badly. 
  6. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 2 hours, until the peel is tender. It’s important that the peel is soft before you add the sugar, because once you do, it won’t ever get any softer.
  7. Add in the sugar and lemon juice (also packed with pectin), stirring until the sugar has dissolved (if the sugar hasn’t dissolved before it comes to the boil, it will crystallize once it cools). 
  8. Raise the heat to a rolling boil and keep boiling, without stirring, until the setting point is reached (either when a sugar/preserving thermometer reads 105°C (220°F) or when a teaspoonful of the marmalade wrinkles up when placed onto a fridge-cold plate and you push it with your finger), which should take 20 to 30 minutes but could take longer. Once it’s done, take it off the heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. 
  9. Stir in the whiskey, which may cause the mixture to bubble up a bit again. 
  10. Pour the marmalade into warm, dry, sterilized jars (see above) to within a few millimeters of the rim and seal immediately. Store in a cool, dry place and use within two years.
The first time I tried this it didn't was very runny. But I had scraped much of the pith off the peel and didn't have enough lemon juice. So I put everything back in my dutch oven and added more lemon juice (adjusted in the recipe above) and boiled it longer (about an hour) but tried to keep it at 222°F and re-jarred it in sterilized jars. It firmed up considerably more the next day but next time I will leave the pith in tact and I think I'll have a jammier marmalade.


  1. Delighted to hear you like the marmalade! It looks like it turned out beautifully. Enjoy!

  2. Thanks Kristin! It became filling for a cake. It really is a delicious recipe! Thanks for your culinary creativity so I could bring life to a really yummy cake!

  3. Hi, I notice that you weigh the oranges in kilograms but the sugar in pounds. Are these correct? I'm very keen to make this marmalade but want to double check these amounts. Thanks!

    1. Hi there, those are the right measurements! Let me know how you do!