We’re thrilled to be part of the 1,400 people participating in the Food In Jars Mastery Challenge this year. Each month features a different challenge and this one brought marmalade back in to our lives. We decided to throw our hat into the ring by making a no-fuss honey marmalade recipe that’s heavily inspired (and includes) one of our favourite nightcaps: Scotch.
I’ll be the first to admit there’s a whole lot going on here so let me get some of the core details out of the way for skimmers and they can skip to the recipe if they want while others may want to dig a little deeper below:
- This is an easy recipe. No need to zest your orange and I wanted simple from the get-go.
- Yes, you can make marmalade with honey – and it’s awesome! It’s a bit thicker than gooey jam but I tend to eat it for dinner (it’s awesome with goat cheese on toast or used to glaze a ham) but the texture is closer to thick honey than runny jam. You can cook it less if you prefer it to be runny.
- This is a 2-day recipe – although the overall time is longer than you might expect this is for good reason – it saves a lot of manual work in zesting your citrus! Day 1 is about 20 minutes of active time (and about 30 minutes total) and day 2 is about 20 minutes of active time (and about 2.5hours total cooking time)
- Yes, you can skip the Scotch. Replace it with 1/4 cup water. You should know it’s not boozy (the alcohol cooks off) and the Scotch takes it away from a sweet breakfast condiment (though it does fine there too) and transforms it into an ingredient that can be used at any meal. I’ve chopped some and tossed it with brussels sprouts and added other to a teapot with loose leaf tea (just strain before serving).
- Yes, I used a ridiculous Scotch for this. A 16 year-old Lagavulin. I would do it again – adding 2 ounces of an exquisite Scotch at the end of the process extends what would otherwise be a single drink into more than a pint (we had 7 * 4-ounce jars) of goodness. You can skip the Scotch or use something else but this was a lovely addition and I happened to have a bottle getting dusty on the shelf!
All the formalities are out of the way – let’s get on to the process (you can skip ahead for the honey marmalade recipe at the end if you’d rather):
The Inspiration for the Recipe
When we made this marmalade I wanted to avoid doing something that took a lot of manual work. I was starting to make the recipe at 9:30 at night after a long day of work and didn’t want something complicated and I stumbled on Ina Garten’s Marmalade recipe. She cut the oranges thin and cooked them twice (resting them overnight after the original cooking time) and this worked perfectly for me. I was able to split the recipe over 2 days and reduced the manual work significantly compared to other recipes. Sometimes it pays to be lazy.
I also knew I wanted to use honey instead of sugar. Honey led to to cloves and cinnamon and I remember thinking that I was describing a glass of Scotch (“it has honey on the nose a kiss of citrus and warm notes of clove and cinnamon before finishing with a subtle kick of spice“) and I couldn’t get that out of my head. I started imagining that the marmalade was a cocktail then found myself pouring myself a glass of Scotch and then the rest was history – it had to be done!
Using Honey for Marmalade
I have used honey for marmalade several times and found it to be a great replacement for sugar. I like it because I tend to use about half the amount of honey than sugar, can get it locally, have greater trust in the quality of the honey I get than the sugar and, more than anything else, I love the taste of it. On the flip side, honey is more expensive than sugar and can come from questionable sources/practices as well. I try to buy (as we did here) from reputable local beekeepers and buy in quantity to save cost in the long run.
Jelly Bags Explained
A “jelly bag” can be made of many things. It’s typically a piece of cheesecloth that you use to secure ingredients (such as cloves) that you want to use for flavour but remove before cooking completes. Think of it like a homemade teabag – it’s just a way to add more flavour to whatever it is that you’re cooking. In this case I used one to add flavour from cinnamon and clove and removed them before canning. There’s no real art to tying up the bag – just make sure it’s secure and won’t fall apart.
Orange Honey Marmalade Recipe
- Day 1 Ingredients
- 7¾ cup water
- 4 large oranges, organic preferred.
- 1 piece of cheesecloth
- 2 small (or 1 medium) cinnamon stick
- 10 cloves
- 2 dried chillies (optional)
- 3 cups honey
- Day 2 Ingredients
- 2-4 tablespoon Scotch. Per above, we used Lagavulin 16 for this.
- Day 1.
- Remove the ends off the oranges (I tried to ensure all pieces that went into the marmalade had at least some flesh of the orange). Cut oranges in 4 wedges each (like you were feeding a soccer team) then cut slices as thin as you possibly can. If you prefer smaller chunks (and more work) you can cut the oranges into additional wedges before slicing. Remove any seeds as you go. Place slices and juices into a stove-top pot for which you have a lid.
- Using the cheesecloth, tie the cinnamon, cloves and chillies into a jelly bag (explained above).
- Add the jelly bag and honey to the oranges and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Cover and allow it to cool overnight (I waited until the next evening).
- Day 2.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat before reducing to a simmer. Simmer for 2 hours, stirring to prevent burning and watching to ensure it doesn't boil over.
- Increase the heat to bring to a moderate boil (not violent enough to splatter as it will be very hot) and reduce for approximately 30 minutes. You can prep your waterbath and jars while it reduces. You can test it's thickness by placing it on a chilled plate and allowing it to cool to room temperature and running your finger through it - if the most liquid parts remain divided you are good to go! As Ina Garten pointed out in the inspiration for this piece, the jam should be set with the liquid reaches 220 degrees as well.
- Skim off any excess bubbles/foam from the marmalade, ladle into hot, clean mason jars and process for 10 minutes!
Would you make this orange honey marmalade recipe? Are you a fan of booze as an ingredient? In our cookbook we also have a recipe for a bourbon-saffron marmalade that uses a different technique but is just as fun!