Celebrate winter’s best citrus with this easy Homemade Christmas Marmalade. What makes it Christmassy? Cranberries! They give the marmalade tart flavor and a gorgeous red hue.
I can’t think of a more perfect edible Christmas gift than a jar of this homemade cranberry marmalade. Two of the season’s most celebrated flavors are combined with sugar, then boiled down to sweet, jammy goodness that you can spread on toast. It looks beautiful divvied up in clear canning jars, and it’s so versatile! It’s delicious as the usual breakfast condiment, but it’s also wonderful served alongside roast turkey at Christmas dinner.
Prep the oranges.
The first order of business is to remove the peel (and not the white pith) from the oranges. After trying every peeler in my utensil drawer, I found that a Euro peeler like this KitchenAid variety did the job best. After all of the oranges are peeled, cut the peels into fine strips using a knife.
Cut away the white pith from the oranges using a serrated knife, then chop the oranges into pieces. No need to remove the membranes – they’ll cook down and help the marmalade to set because they naturally contain pectin. If you have any large extra-tough pieces of membrane from around the navel of the oranges, go ahead and discard them.
Into the cooking pot.
Place the orange pieces along with the juice, chopped fresh cranberries, and sugar in a large pot. Stir them together and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a full boil. Cook the mixture over the hard boil for about 30 seconds, then remove from the heat.
Add one pouch of liquid pectin to the mixture and stir well. Even though the orange membranes have natural pectin in them, it’s not quite enough to fully set the marmalade. So, we’re helping it along a little bit.
Off the heat, add the orange peel, some fine lemon zest, and lemon juice. Return the pot to medium high heat and bring back to a full boil. Cook the mixture for 3 minutes with a timer set. Skim any foam from the top of the mixture with a spoon, stirring intermittently to help dissolve the foam.
Pour the marmalade into sterilized 8 oz. canning jars. See my Port Wine Jelly blog post for pictures of the easy technique I use to prep my jars and lids. Wipe the rim of each jar with a damp towel to make sure it’s clean. This is especially important if you’re processing your jars in a water bath. The jars won’t seal if there’s a trace of sugar syrup on them.
To water bath, or not to water bath?
Immerse the jars into a simmering water bath that completely covers their tops. I use a canning set with a rack, but you could simply put the jars in a large pot without a rack. Boil them for 10 minutes, then remove them from the bath to cool at room temperature. When you hear the lids pop, they are sealed. Sealed jars of marmalade are shelf stable for up to two years.
However, if you don’t want to go the water bath route, the filled jars can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. If you plan to give these as gifts, make sure you tell the recipient that the marmalade requires refrigeration.
I used Avery printable gift tags (80511) with one of their online templates to create some cute hang tags for my gifts. You can make your own, or click here to download my printable version!
Homemade Christmas Marmalade
5 canning jars with lids, 8 oz. capacity
water bath canner with rack optional
- 4 large navel oranges
- 1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
- 4 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest grated fine
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 oz. liquid fruit pectin one pouch such as Certo
Scrub the whole navel oranges under running tap water with a scrub brush. Pat dry. Wash and dry fresh cranberries. Leave them to further dry while you sterilize the canning jars.
Sterilize jars and lids by dipping them in a pot of boiling water. Set aside on dishtowels to dry. They will dry almost instantly as the hot water evaporates quickly.
Remove the zest from the oranges, avoiding the white pith just below the orange skin. Use a vegetable peeler for quick work (see blog post for link). Cut the peel into fine strips.
Cut the white pith away from the oranges using a serrated knife. Chop the oranges with membranes into pieces and transfer them, along with their juices to a large cooking pot. (If there are any particularly tough pieces of membrane, such as the tough ring around the navel orange, discard it.) Add the cranberries and sugar to the pot. Stir well.
Bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat (this may take about 15-20 minutes) stirring frequently. When the mixture is boiling vigorously, cook for 30 seconds with a timer set while stirring constantly. Remove from the heat
Stir in the pectin and lemon juice (the acid from the lemon juice activates the pectin, so don’t skip this ingredient). Add the orange peel and fine lemon zest. Return the pot to medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the mixture boils, cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Stir the mixture and skim off any large areas of foam on top of the marmalade.
Pour the marmalade into the sterilized jars. Wipe the jar rims with a damp cloth and lid the jars. If you’re not using the water bath canning method, allow the jars to cool to room temperature before storing them in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
For the water bath canning method, immerse the jars into a simmering water bath that completely covers their tops. I use a canning set with a rack, but you could simply put the jars in a large pot without a rack. Boil them for 10 minutes, then remove them using tongs from the bath to cool at room temperature. When you hear the lids pop, they are sealed. Sealed jars of marmalade are shelf stable for up to two years.
This recipe was adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving.