Bitter Orange Marmalade

Ballymaloe House Hotel Located in East Cork


Makes approximately 3.5 litres

1.35kg (3lb) Seville oranges

2 lemons

2.8l (6 pint) water

2.25kg (5 lb) sugar

Use bitter oranges (Citrus aurantium) in this recipe - those that grow in Seville, and the surrounding region of Andalucia in Spain, are prized for their perfume and bright bitterness - they make the most joyful marmalade. This recipe is a variation of the Old-Fashioned Marmalade found in Margaret Costa’s Four Seasons Cookery Book.


Wash the oranges and lemons well. Cut each fruit in half and remove the pips. Tie the pips in a square of muslin to make a loose bag. Squeeze the juice from the fruit, remove any tough membrane and slice the pith finley. Put the sliced fruit, juice, water and bag of pips to soak together overnight.

Place the mixture in a wide stainless steel pan, cover with a disk of parchment paper and simmer for about 2 hours, until the peel is soft and the liquid has reduced by approximately a half. It is crucial that the fruit is cooked completely, if it is not the peel will be tough in the finished marmalade, which is likely not to have a good set! Remove and discard the pips and wash and dry the muslin.

Stir in the sugar and when it has dissolved place on a high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for approximately 15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the mixture from sticking to the base of the pan.

Place a small plate in the fridge to chill. To test if the marmalade is done, turn off the heat and put a small amount of the mixture on the cold plate. Wait for it to cool and then gently push the tip of your finger through the marmalade - if it wrinkles on the surface it is ready. If not, turn the heat back on and cook for a minute or two more and retest.

Transfer the marmalade to sterilised jars while still hot and cover immediately.

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