Where jams end and marmalades begin…

We haven’t made marmalade for several years now; the thing is, much as we like it, we just don’t eat it anymore. Gone are the days of breakfast being cereal and milk or porridge, followed by something cooked, and ending with toast and marmalade. My dad always made the marmalade and it was dark and bitter, fruity and delicious, clear jelly and thick slices of peel – although he always made a jar ‘without bits in’ for my sister. We inherited his recipe, and each year my husband used to make it in January… but there a came a time when we hadn’t finished the previous year’s brew before the next was being made… and then there was the year when I took out a box of what I thought to be empty jars to find it full of maturing marmalade from two years previously – it was delicious, I do have to say. The other day my husband opened a five year old jar – matured to perfection, the jelly had darkened slightly but the flavour was immense… so much for sell-by dates!

This is what Ethelind Fearon had to say almost seventy years ago about marmalade:

There is no very clear understanding as to where jams end and marmalades begin.
One authority lays it down that marmalades are made of citrus fruit, another that jams are made of crushed fruit and marmalades from sliced or stripped fruits or small berries. But in the former case what of quince, green tomato and fresh fig marmalade, and in the latter, what of currant or pear jam.
It is all very confusing. My own personal definition is that jam is sweet and marmalade bitter – the kind of thing which does not cloy the palate and can be eaten for breakfast. Citrus fruit is bitter when cooked in any case and the various other fruit preserves which are termed marmalade – quince, green tomato, pineapple etc., all develop a refreshing tang by reason of treatment. And most marmalade is a thick mash rather than fruit suspended in jelly.

I have to say I disagree with Ethelind; I think only citrus fruit can make marmalade, and anything else is a jam or conserve. I certainly disagree that ‘most marmalade is a thick mash‘! Our marmalade certainly is not! Our marmalade is as she then goes on to say ‘fruit suspended in jelly‘ – and a crystal clear jelly too!

Here are the fruits – and vegetables she uses, as well as every citrus fruit:

  • apple
  • carrot
  • cherry
  • cherry and pineapple (sounds an unusual combination of flavours – I’m not tempted!)
  • fresh fig
  • gooseberry
  • grape
  • green tomato x2 (I tried making a green tomato jam once… much as I hate waste I had to throw it away!)
  • peach
  • peach and orange
  • apricots, dates, figs, raisins and lemons (surely that’s more like a chutney or mincemeat?)
  • pineapple – of this Ethelind says a recipe gleaned from New Zealand. An uncommon flavour…  that doesn’t exactly recommend it! As well s pineapple it has ginger.
  • pineapple and apricot
  • quince
  • rhubarb x2
  • tomato


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.