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You put the whiskey in the marmalade…

September 30, 2011

And mix it all together! That sounds way better than “You put the lime in the coconut…” doesn’t it? Ever since I started canning I’ve been on a sort of mission to find unique (or at least fun) recipes to make, most of which so far have come from Punk Domestics or Food in Jars. However, I stumbled on this recipe while looking for something else, & as soon as I saw it I was done for. Lemon-Orange Whiskey marmalade.

Yes, I wrote Lemon-Orange Whiskey marmalade.

Do I really need to say anything else about this? No. I think not. But I will anyway. My very first encounter with marmalade was reading Alice in Wonderland as a child. Oddly enough, I don’t remember it from the movie, but I seem to remember from reading my very favorite version of it as a little girl that as Alice was tumbling down the rabbit hole, she saw a jar of orange marmalade. But alas, the jar was empty. This isn’t Alice’s kind of marmalade, though. And unless that white rabbit was knocking back a few down there himself, I doubt he had any whiskey marmalade. Though if he did it would make a lot of sense, actually…

Illustration by Marjorie Torrey © 1955


Not that that ever made me want to try it, especially once I found out it was like jam, which I hated as a kid. And jelly too- I never even liked PB&J’s. However as soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it, no matter what.

Unfortunately, as with most newspapers today, the Times now charges you to view the content online, but I had found the recipe & printed it out before that. Please, UK Times, don’t sue me. For £1 (which is what, like $1.60 American?) you can subscribe to it online & view all of their other recipes (& I think there are quite a few), which, if they are anything like this one, are well worth it.

LEMON-ORANGE WHISKEY MARMALADE (adapted slightly from the UK Sunday Times recipe, by Jill Dupleix, Nov 2004)

Makes 4 16-ounce jars


  • 2 lemons
  • 4 oranges
  • white granulated sugar (see recipe)*
  • 2 tablespoons good whiskey**
  • 4 16-ounce screw-top jars, sterilized


  1. Scrub the fruit well, and dry. Cut off the rinds and cut them into thin strips. Finely chop the fruit, placing the pips in a small muslin bag tied with string†. Place the fruit, rind and pips in a large bowl and cover with 1.5l of cold water (about 6 cups). Cover and leave to soak overnight. Transfer the mixture to a heavy-bottomed pan, and bring to the boil. Simmer gently until the fruit is soft, about 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the muslin bag and discard the contents. Weigh the fruit mixture, then measure out three quarters of its weight in sugar‡. Add the sugar to the fruit, stirring enthusiastically until dissolved, and boil rapidly for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you reach setting point (place a little of the mixture on a plate and freeze for 2 minutes — if set, it will wrinkle when moved).
  3. Add the whiskey and stir well, cool only slightly, then ladle into warm sterilized jars and seal, processing in a waterbath for about 10-15 minutes.
* I used half-white sugar, half-turbinado; I thought the deepness of the turbinado would compliment a whiskey-marmalade well, hence the darker color.
** I used Jameson Irish whiskey.
† I used a metal “tea ball” spoon that you’d use for loose tea.
‡ I basically eye-balled & guessed this part, based on other marmalade recipes, because I only have a small scale & so I used about 5 ½ – 6 cups sugar. If it’s runny after 20-30 minutes, I’d add a bit more. You can’t skimp on sugar with marmalade or else it won’t set & it’ll be way too bitter, especially if you’re using the rind… however add too much, and you’ll end up with candy.
Before settling them, removing the air, wiping the rims & putting the lids on…

I let it sit for 5 hours, but not overnight, per se. Just during the day while I did other errands, etc. I’d recommend you do that & not skip that step. It really helps to release all the pectin in the skin/pith of the citrus fruit. Citrus fruit peels have a whopping 30% pectin content! Don’t let that go to waste, take advantage of it. Without pectin, whatever form you get it in, you can’t have a successful jelly, jam or marmalade.

Pectin (from Greek πηκτικός – pektikos, “congealed, curdled”[1]) is a structural heteropolysaccharide contained in the primary cell walls of terrestrial plants. It was first isolated and described in 1825 by Henri Braconnot.[2] It is produced commercially as a white to light brown powder, mainly extracted from citrus fruits, and is used in food as a gelling agent particularly in jams and jellies. It is also used in fillings, medicines, sweets, as a stabilizer in fruit juices and milk drinks and as a source of dietary fiber.


I did not need to use added pectin with this, nor do you usually with any marmalade, but I have seen recipes with the addition of some added pectin. I suppose it also depends on how thick you like it or how much you want to leave things up to nature (see next paragraph down re: marmalade not setting fast). I also added the waterbath part, being an overly-anal and neurotic American, I’ve been tortured by fears of food poisoning & botulism so I figured the extra 10 minutes in boiling water couldn’t hurt matters any. Next time I’d also use wide-mouth jars, as for stuff like this I imagine it’s easier getting every last bit out, and perhaps use the 8 oz ones, since then I’d have more to share. It’s supposedly good for 12-18 months unopened, stored in a dark, cool spot.

Immediately after the waterbath, while cooling.

This marmalade did not have the “set” my previous marmalade had. On that note, I’ve read that sometimes marmalade takes a while to “fully set.” Meaning, in the jar directly afterwards, it will appear on the runny side, but after 2 weeks it should be fully set. Apparently, if your marmalade doesn’t look right, just store it in a cool, dark place and wait. Now I don’t know how scientifically sound that is, so don’t hold me responsible. Although the freezing test included in the recipe is an excellent way of judging, it’s not always a perfect method. Of course mine wasn’t 100% set right out of the gate, but it seemed like it was on the road there. I was a bit concerned because my lemon marmalade was set immediately, but after a few days of receiving this one (which was about a week or so after me making it) my mother opened her jar & said it was amazing. However… I would say let it rest at least a few days before opening it anyway. If after a week you turn the jar upside down, and it takes a while to slide, it’s good. If you turn it upside down and it just sloshes, or the liquid runs quickly, it’s not. If it never seems to set in the jar, it won’t be a marmalade, but that doesn’t mean it’s a waste! You could try opening it, reboiling it and totally re-canning it, using all new lids/rings, but I can’t tell you how to do that ’cause I never did it. Do a Google. Or… as long as the seal is good, you could save it & use it as a lemon-orange-whiskey-syrup thing or a glaze on cakes (like Julia Child’s gateau a l’orange from Mastering the Art of French Cooking… this in syrup form would be to die for poured on that cake while the cake is still warm, as a matter of fact, even in marmalade form it would be amazing on that cake!). So either way, all is not lost. From what they say on this forum, this website & this website, apparently marmalade is a notoriously slow setter, so don’t be alarmed. If it isn’t set after 2 weeks, try waiting another 2. If not, start making that orange cake!

Requisite lid labels!

Imagine if you will, how warming & delicious this will be on a cold winter day. Or even a fall day. Truly. Although, it was pretty damn bad-ass right now on some toast, too (see below). Other uses for marmalade: a delicious glaze for chicken, a filling for little tortes or tarts, on an English muffin/scone/crumpet, mixed into a muffin recipe, and some people use it on ham as well (as a glaze with honey). It will not go to waste, because even if you’re like me & think you don’t like marmalade, you’ll probably like this one. Maybe it’s the whiskey, maybe it’s the extra added lemon-y flavor, who knows. But I thought it was excellent. Speaking of whiskey, I used Jameson because I personally cannot handle Jack Daniels, but you could use any good-quality whiskey you like, including Jack. Just don’t use shit whiskey, it’s not worth it, you’ll wreck the marmalade. If you wouldn’t want to drink it, why the hell would you want to eat it!? Another idea: adding little things to it, like cinnamon or rosemary or a sprig of mint. I left mine plain according to the recipe, but many people like to sneak a little something extra in. I figured the Jameson was extra enough!

All melty on warm toast…

If you had told me 11 years ago that my Saturday’s would now be spent making marmalade, Googling Rick Bayless’ habanero hot sauce recipes (to use my homegrown hab’s) or searching for good plum jam recipes, not to mention that I’d get excited over a KitchenAid mixer or a 12-pack of wide mouth 8oz Ball® jars on sale, I’d have told you you were nuts. But really, you can spend your days doing meaningless shit with people you don’t give a fuck about & spend your nights getting hammered, or you can do something worthwhile & enjoyable. And at 30 years old, if you’re spending most of your nights getting hammered anyway, you sort of need a reality check. Or to just grow up. Unless you’re a rock star- then you’re exempt from judgement. However personally these days I take my whiskey in the form of marmalade. Or cupcakes *ahem*

Oh and by the way-

“Pip” is the correct term for the seed of a citrus fruit such as an orange, lemon or lime.source

Just in case you were wondering.

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  1. Divine. Just divine. I so look forward to all your recipes. This will go on my list for sure. But I’ve never made marmalade before so I hope the results are half as lovely as your’s are.

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