All About British Marmalade, Recipes and Varieties

Marmalade Facts and Recipe

Homemade Marmalade. Michael Boys/Corbis/VCG / Getty Images

Though marmalade can be bought all around the world, it is still considered a top choice for preserves on the British Breakfast table. Marmalade does not originate in Britain, despite claims that it does.

Marmalade on toast is most likely the most familiar use for the preserve, but it is also versatile across the whole menu, from toast to sauces, smothered on a duck and in puddings, baked goods and ice creams.


A Potted History of Marmalade

The name Marmalade comes from the Portuguese word Marmelos, a quince paste similar in texture to an orange spread popular long before the commercialisation of marmalade in the late 18th century.

Despite the belief that marmalade was 'invented' in Scotland by James Keiller and his wife it was not - though due thanks must go to the Keiller who are generally credited with making the delicious breakfast preserve commercially available. The romantic notion of James Keiller discovering a cargo of bitter oranges being sold cheaply which his wife then turned into jam has long been outed considering the existence of recipes for similar 'jams' dating back to the 1500s.

According to food historian Ivan Day, one of the earliest known recipe for a Marmelet of Oranges (close to what we know as marmalade today) comes from the recipe book of Eliza Cholmondeley around 1677.

A Comprehensive History of Marmalade from the World Marmalade Awards.


Types of Orange Marmalade

There are endless varieties of the texture of Marmalade and arguments abound at the breakfast table to personal preferences (I'm a thin cut). Amongst the most popular are:

  • Thick Cut - the orange peel in the jelly is cut into thick chunks creating a tangy bitter flavour.
  • Thin Cut - the orange peel is shredded finely resulting in a softer flavour and texture.
  • Flavoured - endless varieties with added flavours; whisky, Grand Marnier, ginger, or a mixture of citrus fruits. Purists think there should be nothing more than citrus and sugar.
  • Vintage - marmalade left to mature for a denser, richer flavor.
  • Black - made by the adding of brown sugar or black molasses.

Making Marmalade

The bitter Spanish Seville oranges needed for making true marmalade are only available in late-winter to early spring. Seville orange pulp is also available year-round in cans which it does make a good marmalade, though frowned on by purists.

Traditional Marmalade Recipe

Marmalade can be used in many other ways, not just on toast.  Here are 10 different ways to enjoy the tangy, tasty preserve.