Each jewel-like jar of marmalade has four main components: fruit, pectin, acid and sugar. A balance of these ingredients creates the desired texture and flavour.
Use a single type of citrus fruit, mixed citrus or a citrus and other fruits to make marmalade. Use good quality, ripe fruit (under ripe fruit has poor flavour and less juice) to ensure as much natural pectin and acidity to help the marmalade gel (set), plus give a jewel-like colour to your preserve. Use excess rind to make candied peel. Other fruits may include apples, blueberries, cherries, coconut (dried only), cranberries, passionfruit, peaches, pears, pineapple, quince, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries or tomatoes. Check the recipe carefully for instructions about adding these other fruits into your marmalade.
Pectin is what helps marmalade thicken. All fruit has natural pectin and this pectin is extracted from the fruit during the cooking process. As most types of citrus have a high pectin content, you will not need to add commercial pectin unless you are making low-sugar/no-sugar marmalade (follow the low/no-sugar pectin packaging for directions for this type of preserve). Tying the seeds into muslin and boiling in the marmalade mixture helps to release extra pectin.
Citrus fruit is high in acidity to help the marmalade set. This acidity is also what helps to preserve your marmalade during long-term storage. Lemons are a base ingredient in most marmalade recipes to boost the acidity.
When combined with pectin and acid, sugar creates the marmalade consistency. Sugar quantities can be slightly lowered/increased for normal marmalade recipes (depending on how sweet the fruit is). However the sugar can be removed altogether (or lowered drastically) for low-sugar marmalade recipes (i.e. using low-sugar pectin and stevia). Sugar also helps to preserve your marmalade for long-term storage. White sugar or raw sugar is used in marmalade recipes. White sugar will deepen the fruit colour, whilst raw sugar will make a darker coloured marmalade. Honey can be used to replace up to 25% of the sugar in a recipe (i.e. replace 1 cup sugar with 1 cup of honey).
You can experiment by using other fruits, herbs, spices, liqueurs (non-dairy) and other natural ingredients to create a unique marmalade flavour! Examples of other ingredients in marmalade may include carrots, chillies, cinnamon, ginger, mint, onion, pepper, rosemary, tarragon, tea, vanilla or zucchini – follow the recipe for instructions on how to add these into your marmalade.
Author: Megan Radaich           
Image Credit: Megan Radaich            
Publication: www.foodpreserving.org 

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