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Why hasn't my marmalade set?

(28 Posts)
zisforzebra Sun 06-Feb-11 21:41:14

I've made marmalade today from a grapefruit, a lemon and 4 oranges using the whole fruit boil method. It rolling boiled for a good 30 minutes, hit 105 on the jam thermometer but it hasn't set at all. My lovely three fruit marmalade is bits of peel floating in sugar water at the moment.

Why hasn't it set and can I turn it around or am I left with two litres of ham glaze? confused

CrystalTits Sun 06-Feb-11 21:45:14

Did you use preserving sugar? Might be worth ladling some of the liquid out to see if that helps it set...

Have just made marmalade this afternoon too, had to boil hell out of it before it eventually set so I am in no position to comment really ;)

Onlyaphase Sun 06-Feb-11 21:46:38

I've never used a jam thermometer, but have found that I've had to boil marmalade for a lot longer than 30 minutes sometimes.

Is it looking "marmalady" yet - has it turned darker, sticking to the edges of the pan? If not, I'd keep on boiling it for a while, testing every 5 or 10 minutes.

PigeonPie Sun 06-Feb-11 21:54:16

Try putting it back in the pan for a bit longer (tomorrow will do!).

I always have to boil mine for much longer than the recipe says. The easiest way to test is to cool a plate or saucer in the fridge, put a spoonful on the saucer and if it sets quickly it's done, if it doesn't, put the remains back in the pan and the saucer in the fridge and set the timer for another 10 minutes.

BTW, I never use preserving sugar, but I do warm the sugar in a roasting pan in the oven before putting it in.

zisforzebra Sun 06-Feb-11 22:20:06

I didn't use preserving sugar, just demerara. The actual liquid isn't looking darker but it is stickier on the side of the pan. I did try the cold plate method too but it just ran all over the plate!

It's in the pan under a tea towel for now but I'll give it another bash in the morning. I usually just use that Marmade in a can stuff (way easier!) so this is my first attempt at proper marmalade (i've done loads of chutney and jams though)

Thanks all smile

MumsieNonna Mon 07-Feb-11 09:53:09

I've had the same problem this year with Seville orange marmalade. You don't have to use preserving sugar BTW it is a quite a bit more expensive than ordinary sugar. Perhaps your batch of fruit is a slightly low in pectin which makes jam and marmalade set. You can buy a product called Certo to add some extra pectin. You can also use a couple of pinches of citric acid. In the end I added more sugar and boiled and boiled it until it finally set - 40 mins. I used Hugh F-W's whole fruit recipe too and Demerara sugar and it has gone a lovely dark colour. taste v yummy.

zisforzebra Mon 07-Feb-11 21:45:55

I'm reboiling it and will keep going until it either sets or evaporates into stiffness! grin

zisforzebra Mon 07-Feb-11 21:47:37

Sorry, meant to say thank you Mumsie!! My recipe is from the River Cottage preserves book but, as I bought demerara sugar by mistake instead of granulated, I used that. Smells great. grin

Catsmamma Mon 07-Feb-11 21:53:24

no need at all for preserving sugar! ...shouldn't need to add pecting either, citrus fruits are high in pectin.

I would say it needs more boiling, and do the cold saucer test, saucer in the freezer, drip on a spoonful of jam, let it sit for a couple of mins and push your finger across it

...if you get a wrinkled skin then it's ready to pot.

...if you just get a finger trail then boil it more

Mine had to boil for an hour! And I cut down the water advised in the recipe by two only have to boil it off to get a set so always keep that to a minimum.

You can over boil marmalade though, and it will go syrupy, but I doubt you'd get that after only 30 minutes.

Catsmamma Mon 07-Feb-11 21:54:49

oh and it splashed me, I have a blister!

shows pinkie finger with blister and looks for sympathy

Grockle Mon 07-Feb-11 21:58:02

You do need to boil it for aaages. I used half granulated and half preserving sugar (because I didn't have enough granulated) and must have boiled it for 45 mins - an hour. Has set, perhaps a bit more than I expected

MirandaGoshawk Mon 07-Feb-11 21:59:42

Grow up woman! Boil it again tomorrow for another half-hour and it'll be fine.

BTW don't let it stick to the bottom of the pan or you'll get toffee.

If it still has trouble setting -which- -it- -won't-, you can always give it a squirt of lemon juice, but be careful or you'll definitely get toffee. (I speak from experience.)

zisforzebra Mon 07-Feb-11 23:08:40

Yay, I boiled it hard for an hour and it's now set. It tastes great!

Catsmamma Thanks, hope you recover from your injury soon! grin

Miranda I managed to turn chutney into toffee once - it smelt revolting! [we need a bleuughh smiley!]

zisforzebra Mon 07-Feb-11 23:12:29

Grockle - Thank you! I prefer over set to dripping off the edge of the toast. smile

Grockle Tue 08-Feb-11 20:09:50


Mine looked a bit too well set yesterday but is perfect today. Have been eating it by the spoonful grin

phdlife Sat 08-Dec-12 04:29:49

do you know what I love about MN? Here it is, what, nearly two years later, and I google 'why won't my marmalade set' and end up back here, my web home from home...

am now off to do more boiling! smile

phdlife Sat 08-Dec-12 04:55:32

shoot, just boiled it alllllllll over the stove because i was in here organising xmas gifts online hmm

jlg77006 Sat 07-Sep-13 22:53:58

Right, have read the posts which some made me laugh. Being vexed by marmalade, am just about ready to pitch the whole mess into the garden! it's boiled for a solid hour, still just syrup. I may very well go th supermarket, repot store bought and lie!

dominicwilliams7 Tue 09-Feb-16 22:02:29

Marmalade making daddy Dom here - I found this thread because I had the exact same problem. I cured it by a combination of more boiling, a bit more lemon juice and a further salvaging of all of the mushy stuff (or 'Pectin' for you scientists out there) from the orange pith.
I was following a Delia recipe, with change of sugars used - 25% preserving sugar, 50% jam sugar, 25% demerara sugar.
First attempt at making it - started at 1100hrs - finished at around 1930hrs

GlomOfNit Mon 22-Feb-16 16:32:53

You shouldn't really need jam/pectin sugar with citrus. I've had the same problem with my second batch of marmalade this year, and think it's because I decided the first lot was too peel-heavy. Of course, that's got the pectin in...

Evelyn14 Tue 12-Jul-16 08:31:14

I made some lovely tangy reduced sugar marmalade..........used Seville oranges and half the quantity of preserving sugar. The first two batches were fine, then I did a third which I boiled for AGES and it's still in liquid will take advice from this thread, add lemon juice and give it another boil. Something which might have made a difference was that for the third batch I whizzed everything (peel, pith) in the blender because I was fed up with peeling and chopping. But my aunt does it this way and has never had a problem. Lemon juice, then!

BikeRunSki Tue 12-Jul-16 08:50:05

YY to preserving sugar, lots of boiling and a jam thermometer (£4 from Amazon).

Greataunt48 Fri 06-Jan-17 12:22:29

Made 18 jars of marmalade yesterday. Followed recipe ( Marguerite Patten) to the letter -simmered whole oranges until soft, cut up peel (with pastry cutter) boiled pips for 10 mins, removed and added warmed jam sugar, used Thermapen until 104.5 reached. Slight wrinkle on cold plate. STILL WON'T SET. Would reboiling with added lemon juice work? Am always afraid of passing setting point, after which only quickset concrete will work. Don't want to use Certo as you can taste it. Heeeelp!

Sallyann7 Mon 22-Jan-18 13:33:10

Having trouble setting batch of marmalade, any ideas anyone?

SpringFalls Sat 27-Jan-18 16:15:18

I have the same problem- reboil and added certo-don’t know if it has worked yet

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