Seville Orange Marmalade with Whiskey and Ginger

by Kristin on January 19, 2012

One of my best college memories is the summer I spent canning with my co-op housemate Rich. The house had a CSA subscription, our own small backyard garden plus a plot in a community garden, so there was a lot of fresh produce around, even more than the 30 to 40 people who ate at the house every night could use up in a week. So on Sunday nights throughout that summer, armed with a battered copy of Stocking Up and Nina Simone playing on the radio, Rich and I would meet in the kitchen around 8 or 9 at night, when the heat of the day had eased a bit, and get to work, usually not finishing up till around midnight, when we would stand back and admire the finished row of jars cooling on the windowsill. To this day I’m convinced that there’s no more satisfying sound in the kitchen than the metallic ping mason jar lids make when the vacuum seal is created. I still remember how Rich described the act of preserving: “It’s just so wholesome,” he said.

But then I left the Midwest and moved to Ireland, leaving the co-op’s stash of mason jars and copy of Stocking Up behind. When I went back to Wisconsin to visit my friend Kelly two summers ago, one of the best parts of my trip was the night before I flew back to Dublin, when we made pickles from the cucumbers we’d bought that morning at the farmers’ market, listened to NPR on the radio and drank my favourite New Glarus beer. I came home determined to get back into preserving, but despite my best intentions, I watched Seville oranges come and then quickly go, then the rhubarb, gooseberries, strawberries, blueberries and apples, all the while thinking of all the jam and chutney I wanted to be making. When Seville oranges came back into their short season this year, I didn’t want to miss my chance yet again. And now that I finally took the plunge back into preserving, I’m already planning my next batch.

Seville Orange Marmalade with Whiskey and Ginger

Makes 3.5 litres of marmalade

A few tips before you begin: You’ll be working with a big pot of boiling sugar, which can burn badly. Keep kids out of the kitchen (or make your marmalade after they’ve gone to bed) and be mindful of your own safety too. Don’t be tempted to lick the spoon for a little taste!

Make sure you have a good, sharp knife before you begin – otherwise you might regret your decision to make a thin cut marmalade!

When making preserves, you need to use spotlessly clean, sterile jars, lids and rings (if using a Kilner/Le Parfait type of jar). 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 (2 1/4 lb) Seville oranges
2.5 litres (10 cups) water
1.8 kg (4 lb) granulated sugar
200 g (1 1/2 cups) crystallised ginger, finely chopped
75 ml (1/3 cup) lemon juice
75 ml (1/3 cup) whiskey

Scrub the oranges well and cut each orange in half. Squeeze the juice from the oranges and set aside. Slice the peel, including the pith, into whatever thickness you like, i.e. thin or thick cut. 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 overnight or for as long as 24 hours.

Transfer the mixture to a large preserving pan or nonreactive pan (such as an enamelled 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. 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.

Add in the sugar, ginger and lemon juice, stirring until the sugar has dissolved (if the sugar hasn’t dissolved before it comes to the boil, it will crystallise once it cools). 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. Skim off any scum that has risen to the top with a slotted spoon or just stir it to disperse it, then stir in the whiskey, which may cause the mixture to bubble up a bit again. Pour the marmalade into warm, dry, sterilised jars (see above) to within a few millimetres of the rim and seal immediately. Store in a cool, dry place and use within two years.

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon Ní Chonchúir January 19, 2012 at 10:11 am

Kristin, my memories of college are so debauched in comparison with yours! The idea of a co-op house sounds great. I’d love to hear more about it as I don’t quite know what it means…
Your marmalade looks (and sounds) great, btw!


Kristin January 19, 2012 at 11:51 am

Don’t be fooled, I had my share of college debauchery! The co-op was a big old four-storey house where about 30 people lived. The idea was that rent was very cheap because you only had a room in the house and things were communally shared, like utilities, food, etc. and everyone had to pitch in with work around the house too, including cooking. It was a great experience, though my parents disapproved! It’s also how I met my husband, because his younger brother lived in the co-op too.


Emily January 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

Ah! I love this post, and I’m so glad to know someone else totally wimped out in the canning department when they moved to Ireland. But I’m glad you’re back! And I want to be back too, especially since I smuggled back a whole bunch of mason jars from my last visit!


Kristin January 19, 2012 at 11:52 am

It’s the difference between the jars that’s thrown me for a loop all these years – you don’t have to process the filled jars in a water bath like you do with mason jars back home. This Irish way is much easier, but I’m still a little wary of it! There are some recipes where all you do is cover the jam with a wax disc and put some cellophane over the top of the jar with a rubber band.


Clare January 19, 2012 at 10:25 am

What a beautiful breakfast this would make! :) I’ll have to give it a go, absolutely love homemade marmalade. My parents make yuzu marmalade and I love it!


Kristin January 19, 2012 at 11:53 am

I have to confess that I just had to google yuzu. :)


Shirley Vass July 9, 2012 at 11:01 am

Me too!


Amee January 19, 2012 at 10:38 am

Once again you have beat me to the post – my marmalade is just cooling in my jars as I type, I use the Mary Berry overnight softening method. I most certainly did not spend my years in Art College preserving anything unless pickling my liver counts?


Kristin January 19, 2012 at 11:55 am

I think I must be giving out the wrong impression about my college years – there were plenty of less wholesome episodes! By the way, I loved your egg boats (I can’t leave comments on your blog from the list of options it gives for what account you want to use). :(


Imen McDonnell January 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

I’ve finally just started my Mrs. Beeton’s recipe….this looks so pretty and delicious (great light!)
Loved the college story…where is Rich now? Always loved the communal feeling of a big old shared house too. Save a little for me and we can do a swap when we meet on 31st!


Kristin January 19, 2012 at 11:56 am

Rich is on the east coast now, still fighting the good fight. You’re on for a swap!


Liza in Ann Arbor January 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I’ve been intimidated by canning but I feel like I should give it a go soon. Maybe I’ll try this with blood oranges. We sure don’t get those Seville oranges you speak of in these parts!


Kristin January 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm

I was just looking at the River Cottage Handbook No. 2 and she lists blood oranges as one of her variations but says to use 100 ml of lemon juice instead of 75 ml. Good luck!


Sarah January 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I love that photo Kristin. It just looks so comforting and homely. I must try marmalade, have made jams and cheeses and all sort but oranges have evaded me thus far!


Kristin January 19, 2012 at 8:44 pm

You’re a dab hand then, I’m surprised you haven’t made marmalade yet!


Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen January 21, 2012 at 10:52 am

What a lovely memory, Kristen. Marmalade is my first choice of preserves and this one is gorgeous. Love the addition of the whiskey.


Kristin January 21, 2012 at 11:51 am

Thanks Hester! I’m going to try bumping up the whiskey to 100 ml next time. Can’t have too much of a good thing, right?


Aoife Mc January 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm

2012 is definitely the year for me to make marmalade. Thanks for this recipe, and for the inspiration! Looks so delicious.


Kristin January 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm

That was how I felt too. Funnily enough, I was out for a walk earlier and told myself that 2012 is going to be the year we finally buy an apple tree after talking about getting one for years!


Aoife Mc January 23, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Also, love your story about your college co-op preserving days. Glad you’ve gotten back into the jarring driving seat :)


Emily January 25, 2012 at 2:37 am

I am in love with your site & I just discovered it today! I’m preparing to move to Ireland this fall to work with human trafficking education & prevention, & I’ve been searching for good blogs by others living in Ireland. Plus I love food & cooking. So your blog is a sight for sore eyes! : )


Kristin January 25, 2012 at 7:54 am

Thank you so much! You might also like to check out these blogs from my fellow expat friends here: An American in Ireland, I Married an Irish Farmer, From China Village and Gunternation. Good luck with your move, I hope you’ll love it here as much as I do!


Deirdre January 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Was looking for a good recipe for marmalade with ginger and stumbled on this, hurrah! Looks great and I will be giving it a go this evening. Batch of normal marmalade made yesterday. Have been making marmalade for years, in the usual jam jars with waxed discs and lids. They keep for the 12 months necessary until the next batch. Not familiar with canning at all! Many thanks


Kristin January 30, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I’d love to hear how it turns out for you! I’m due to get a delivery of more jars tomorrow, hoping I can still find the Seville oranges in the shops to make one more batch myself this year.


Deirdre January 31, 2012 at 11:55 am

Well I made the marmalade last night and it was looking good! Left it to cool under waxed discs in jars overnight and will lid them when I get home this evening. Looking forward to tasting. Also left husband with the last 3 lbs of oranges to make whatever kind of marmalade he fancies!! It will be interesting to see as he is a very adventurous artist – could be delicious or a disaster!!
Thanks again for your recipe. Am looking at your other recipes now :)


Kristin January 31, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Thanks so much for popping back to let me know how it turned out. What kind did your husband wind up making? I just got my shipment of jam jars this morning so I’ll be stopping by the farm shop tomorrow to see if they still have the Seville oranges to make another batch.


Kristen January 17, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Hi there, I made this recipe last night and the flavor is gorgeous, but it’s quite runny…like a syrup this morning (after canning). Is this normal? I’ve read on other marmalade forums that it could take weeks to set. How long did it take for yours to set? Is it the pith that contains the natural pectin because the oranges I used didn’t have thick pith.


Kristin January 17, 2013 at 5:14 pm

I have to admit that I’m not sure what to advise here. Mine firmed up almost immediately once I took it off the heat. I believe that it’s the pips that contain a lot of pectin rather than the pith, so I’m not sure that would be the problem. Were they specifically Seville oranges that you used?


Kristen January 17, 2013 at 10:38 pm

I used navel oranges (which were seedless!)…no seville oranges in my little town in Canada. but i did read oranges other than seville require less water so that might be my problem. I read I could try adding more lemon juice and reboil (i didn’t have enough for what your recipe called for…but I didn’t realize it was packed with pectin…I thought it was for flavor – I’m a newbie at marmalade making). I’ll see if that works. if not, I’ll go the pectin crystals route.


Kristin January 24, 2013 at 10:21 pm

I’ve seen other recipes for marmalade that specifically call for navel oranges (the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook has two recipes for navel orange marmalade), so I’m sure it’s just a matter of getting the pectin right. Fingers crossed for you!


Kristen January 25, 2013 at 5:23 pm

i just added more lemon juice and boiled again and it set! (also added a little more whiskey as I was worried I’d lose some of the flavor by reboiling it). It’s the most gorgeous marmalade I’ve ever tasted. You are an angel wrapped in dreams. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

George Martin January 28, 2013 at 10:20 am

Good recipe – but what about the pips. I always keep them separate and boil with the oranges in a separate muslin bag – which also gives the pectin.


Kristin January 29, 2013 at 7:11 pm

The River Cottage Preserves book has this to say about pips: “For generations, marmalade-makers have cooked up the mass of pips found inside citrus fruits in the belief that they are full of pectin. However, most of the pectin is actually found in the citrus peel and I rely purely on this for the setting power in my marmalades.” But I know other recipes call for boiling the pips in a muslin bag, like you’ve said, so it sounds like it’s really up to you whether you incorporate that extra step or not. As for me, I find that marmalade sets just fine without them. Hope that helps!


Tim January 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Can anyone help. I tried the above recipe with a few alterations. (Mutiplied by 1.5 basically)
1.5kg Oranges (Pith / Fruit ratio seemed very high on the pith front compared to regular oranges). Squeezed the juice by hand and minced the rest (Peel,Pith), dis-guarding the pips beforehand (Probably mistake #1). Added 3L water and left all of that to soak in fridge for 24 hours.
Added 200g crystalised ginger
Added a further 0.75 L (3.75 total) water and brought to a rolling boil for almost 2 hrs.
Let come back from boil and added 2.5kg Sugar (1kg of which was Jam sugar, hence the slight reduction)
Boiled for 30 mins, tested with cold plate test, repeated this about 3 times every ten minutes. Boiled pretty hard (Maybe another mistake)
Jarred up and let cool
Runny as Orange Juice this morning
Going to Unjar, re heat with Gelatine and see if that salvages it.

Any ideas what went wrong?


Tim January 29, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Sorry, forgot to include that I used the juice of only 1.5 lemons. Again, another mistake.
Do you think the pectin would have survived the boiling process and perhaps adding juice of 3 or 4 lemons might just do the trick?


Kristen January 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm

i had runny jam too because i didn’t have the minimum lemon juice requirement when i first made it. I reboiled the next night and added the missing plus a little extra lemon juice and let boil for an hour…and let the temp rise on my candy thermometer to 225 and kept the boil there as long as I could. Also added more whiskey at the end. It firmed up wonderfully the next day.


Kristin January 29, 2013 at 7:25 pm

A few thoughts:

Perhaps adding ALL the water (i.e. the total 3.75 litres) to the oranges and the orange juice to soak overnight would have helped, instead of only using 3 litres and then topping up by 0.75 litres the next day?

I’m not sure if using jam sugar instead of regular granulated (or even caster) sugar had a negative effect. If anything, I would have thought that it would help to firm up the marmalade, but I’ve never used jam sugar in marmalade so I can’t be too sure of how it would affect the end result.

Did you measure out the lemon juice? If you multiplied everything else by 1.5, then you should have used about 125 ml. I don’t know offhand how much juice 1.5 lemons would yield. I’d be wary of using 3 or 4 lemons without measuring the amount of juice, I think it would affect the flavour.

When you did the cold plate test, did it ever wrinkle? Or if you have a candy thermometer, did it ever reach at least 215 degrees? The first time I made this, I had to boil it for quite a long time after adding the sugar before it finally set.

Do let us know if you’re able to salvage it!


Monica Cardarelli March 14, 2013 at 1:48 am

Just made this with Tullamore Dew and Blood (Moro) Oranges!!! Amazingly Delicious!!!
Thanks for the recipe!!


Kristin March 14, 2013 at 9:54 am

I bet the blood oranges give it an incredible colour. Happy to hear you like it!


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Xam October 18, 2015 at 4:46 am

Could you happen to tell me how the sugar-free version would be? I’m assuming some liquid would have to be added.

Thank you!


Kristin January 29, 2013 at 7:15 pm

That is high praise indeed, thank you so much! Delighted to hear that it set in the end.


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