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Top 6 Orange Marmalade Substitutes

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Marmalade in a jar and a spoon

Marmalade is a citrus fruit preserve that is commonly made from Seville oranges or other fruit like grapefruits, lemons, or limes. Depending on the type of fruit used, the flavor will vary; however, it is usually a combination of sweetness from sugar and bitterness from citrus fruit peel.

If you don’t have any marmalade in the kitchen or you don’t enjoy its taste, then you’re going to need an alternative. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite marmalade substitutes so that you can complete any recipe without the original spread.

What can I use to replace marmalade?

To replace marmalade in baking or as a topping on toast, your best options are to use a jam, jelly, or a preserve. They will provide a similar flavor and texture although you won’t get the same bitter punch that you get from marmalade – for many this may be a positive. Citrus zest is another good option for adding fruity, bitter flavor to recipes without the sweetness. Finally, chutney or orange juice could also be used for marinades and sauces where there is liquid involved.

1. Jam

Do you need to replace marmalade with an ingredient that closely mimics marmalade? A good quality orange jam will work well. It is made in much the same way and has similar applications in cooking. The main difference between the two is that jam is a mix of fruit, sugar, water, and pectin, cooked until thick; marmalade is similar, but it also includes the peel

Jam won’t provide the same bitter flavor you get from marmalade. But you can still use it in the same way on toast and scones, stirred into puddings and desserts, spread on top of brownies, and used as a glaze.

Finding orange jam can be a challenge in supermarkets, but several brands do exist. If you can’t find any, check online or choose another flavor than orange. For example, if a cake calls for the addition of marmalade you could add apricot jam for results that are just as delicious.

Jelly will also work in place of marmalade although its texture is much smoother, and it also lacks the bitter burst of flavor. In most recipes, this textural difference will barely be noticeable.

2. Preserves

Recipes for fruit preserves vary depending on who makes it. But you will usually find that preserves have whole chunks of fruit, so the texture isn’t as smooth as jam. Instead, the fruit is preserved in a jar with chunks immersed in syrup or gel.

Use preserves in much the same way that you would use marmalade. They are delicious spooned into croissants and topped on scones or toast. Swirl any preserve into homemade ice cream and cake or use for fruity flavor and sweetness in puddings like fruit cobbler.

As with jam, a fruit preserve won’t have the same level of bitterness that marmalade provides. If you want something with a bit more tangy, bitter flavor then keep reading.

3. Citrus zest

Citrus zest is excellent for adding a zesty flavor without the sweetness. You can add it to baked goods, marinades, meat rubs, and even pasta sauce. If you’re trying to replace orange marmalade, then your best option is to use orange zest; alternatively, use grapefruit or lemon zest.

This option will provide more bitterness than what you would get from a jam or preserve. Zest won’t be appropriate if you need a marmalade alternative to use as a glaze.

Marmalade substitute infographic4. Chutney

Chutney is an everyday item at the supermarket, but it is also easy to make at home. Cook mangoes, sugar, onions, mustard, white vinegar, and ginger on a low heat until the fruit softens. This sauce is excellent for savory applications like flavoring curries or coating roast meat. For spreading onto toast or using in sweet recipes like ice cream or puddings, you’re better to use jam or a preserve.

5. Juice

In a pinch, you could use orange juice as a substitute for marmalade; however, this will only work in limited recipes where the liquid won’t ruin the dish. Some good options for using juice include sauces and marinades. To help intensify the juice’s flavor and thicken its texture you can reduce the liquid in a small saucepan before adding it to the other ingredients.

6. Homemade marmalade

If you enjoy marmalade but can’t find any at your local store then making a batch at home is an excellent option.

Homemade marmalade in a jarYield: roughly 2 pints

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds ripe oranges
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar

Method

  1. Fill a sink or a large bowl with water and wash the oranges, before drying with a clean tea towel. Chop off the ends of the orange and discard.
  2. Carefully slice off the thin layer of zest with a paring knife or peeler, ensuring the white pith remains attached to the fruit. Slice the strips into thin pieces and set aside.
  3. Use a sharp knife to carefully slice off the white pith that surrounds each orange and discard it. Cut the orange into segments, then remove any seeds and membranes and place them in a separate bowl for later use.
  4. Add the fruit, zest, water, and sugar to a large pot with a heavy bottom and bring the ingredients to a boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves and then leave to cook.
  5. Add a small plate to the freezer, allowing it to chill.
  6. Layer a bowl with cheesecloth and place the seeds and membranes from the oranges on top. This works as an effective natural pectin. Tie the four corners of the cloth together to keep everything intact then place it into the pot. Once the liquid reaches 220°F (104°C) allow it to boil for five minutes without stirring.
  7. To test the mixture, place a few drops of the marmalade onto the chilled plate and allow it to spread a little before moving the mixture with a spoon. The spoon will leave a trail if the marmalade is set. If not, continue cooking for a few more minutes.
  8. Remove the cheesecloth bag and discard it, then remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool for five minutes.
  9. Give the marmalade one final stir before ladling it into sterilized, sealable jars. Be sure to leave some space at the top of the jar (about a ½”) to allow for expansion.
  10. Add lids and store in a cool dry place for up to one year. Once opened, marmalade can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three months.

Fast facts

  • Marmalade was traditionally made from quinces and it dates back to the days of Ancient Rome. Back then, it was a lot like the texture of quince paste.
  • Although not a staple in the United States, marmalade is popular in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and NZ.
  • In 1910, captain Scott trekked through the Antarctic with a stock of marmalade, while Sir Edmund Hillary is believed to have taken a jar up Everest back in 1953.
  • Seville oranges are a great choice of fruit for making marmalade as they are high in pectin, an important component for helping to set the mixture.

Related questions

What does orange marmalade taste like?

Orange marmalade has a sweet, citrusy taste but it is different from jam thanks to its strong bitter flavor which comes from the use of rind.

What is marmalade used for?

The most common use for marmalade is spreading onto scones or toast. It is a versatile ingredient that can be used in sweet recipes like cakes and puddings. Marmalade can also be spread between layers of cake or pancakes for extra sweetness and flavor. In savory dishes, marmalade adds a sweet and bitter taste to meat and poultry rubs and is delicious incorporated into homemade barbecue sauce.

Summing up

Although marmalade is a common ingredient in some parts of the world, you may not be able to find it at your local store. If you’re having trouble locating a jar or you simply don’t like the taste, then use jam or preserve as a tasty substitute. Citrus zest is great for adding a similar flavor without the sugar.

To get the authentic taste of marmalade then you’ll do well to make your own at home. Get yourself some citrus fruit and preserving jars then follow our simple recipe above for a delicious tasting condiment.

What recipe are you currently working on that calls for marmalade? Please let us know in the comments below.