by Dame Zabrina
December, 2002


Jams, jellies, marmalades, preserves, and conserves are sweet spreads made from fruit or juice; they differ in firmness, clarity and ingredients.
Marmalade is a soft gel with pieces of fruit and citrus peel.

Marmalades may have the appearance of being traditionally British, but the idea was actually from the Portuguese "marmalade style" preserve, more than 500 years ago.
The definition of marmalade has evolved over the centuries. Originally, it was a sweet spread made from the quince fruit. Quinces were considered to be medicinal and good for the appetite.

The world's first known book of recipes, Of Culinary Matters, written by the Roman gastronome Marcus Gavius Apicius in the first century, includes recipes for fruit preserves. Marmalade is thought to have been created in 1561 by the physician to Mary, Queen of Scots, when he mixed orange and crushed sugar to keep her seasickness at bay.
It has been suggested, in fact, that the word marmalade derives from the words "Marie est malade" (Mary is sick), but it is far more likely that the derivation is from the Portuguese word marmelo for quince, from which original marmelada was made. Marmalade first appears in English print in 1524.
In the past natures fresh fruity bounty did more than liven the table; the arrival of each new fruit occasioned a burst of activity in the kitchen as well, as cooks made it into jam or preserves for everyday use, and to carry a little bit of summer over into the winter months. Due to the rarity of the citrus fruit and the expense of the cloves, Marmalade wound up becoming a royal delight.

Marmalades were a kingly delicacy and many a royal sweet tooth demanded an array of fruit flavors rich with sugar. Chroniclers of more regal eras describe at length the magnificent feasts of Louis XIV, which always ended with marmalades and jellies served in silver dishes. Each delicacy served at Versailles was made with fruit from the king's own gardens and glasshouses, where even pineapples were grown and candied like less exotic fruits

The most well known marmalades are concocted of bitter, thick-skinned Seville oranges, and sugar. The key is the rind, which gives lends a bitterness to delightfully balance the sweetness of the jelly. The citrus peel is cut coarse or fine according to taste. The breadth of the shred is of prime concern to marmalade fans, and it is not uncommon for some to pick out the orange peel from their jelly and leave it on the side of the plate. In fact this huge diversity of taste has resulted in varieties that are chunky and full-flavored, with any size of peel, to fine shred and shred-less. Leaving the cooked pulp and the cooked peel soak overnight (or longer) seems to bring out both flavour and pectin.

Jam sets by means of "pectin", which is contained in most kinds of fruit (a few fruits, e.g strawberries, don't have enough, but it's no problem with oranges). Pectin is necessary for thickening or gel formation.

Sugar helps gel formation, adds sweetness, and acts as a preservative. A light-colored, mild-flavored honey can be used in place of one-third of the sugar. Too much honey will mask the fruit flavor and affect gel formation

Sugar is one of the oldest forms of natural sweetener. Research shows that during the Tang dynasty, 7th century, emperor Tai Zong sent a mission to India to study their techniques in sugar cultivation. The technique uses a boiling process to create granular substance known as sugar sand. In the 12th century Kublai Khan seeks knowledge from the Egyptians to improve the Chinese processing of sugar. This was due to the fact that "The Egyptians have acquired a reputation for making an exceptionally white sugar." Around the early 13th century sugar was said to be imported to England as a barter for some wool. Sugar was also used to preserve or candy certain foods and fruits for later consumption. In the later part of this century, Sweden uses sugar to help disguise the bad taste of medicines prepared by apothecaries. In Madeira, around the mid 15th Century, the spanish started to refine sugar thus creating an entire industry using forced immigrant labor. A few years later, Sugar from Madeira reaches Bristol, England. Englishman were given their first taste of the white granulated sweetener.

An orange is the fruit of an orange tree, of the genus Citrus, especially Citrus sinensis and Citrus aurantium. Oranges were not named for their color. The color is named for the fruit.. Oranges are orange in color. The word orange comes from the Sanskrit naranga which means "fragrant". The orange has a sweet-sour taste and is commonly peeled and eaten fresh, or squeezed for its juice. It has a thick bitter rind that is usually discarded, but can be used in cooking. The outer-most layer of the rind is called orange zest, and it has a similar flavor to the inner part of the orange. The white part of the rind is almost always discarded. The fruit originated in India and was called na rangi in Sanskrit. The na rangi or naranja was translated as "norange", and in English usage a norange was back-formed into the more acceptable an orange. The same thing happened in French and Italian, but in Spanish it is still naranja.
Vanilla first left Mexico in the early 1500s on ships bound for Spain. It was originally believed only to have value as a perfume. It wasn't until Cortes arrived in 1519 that the Spaniards learned it was also a flavor. Vanilla is the only edible fruit of the orchid family, the largest family of flowering plants in the world. Because vanilla has always been so valuable, it has a long history of robbery and intrigue. In Madagascar, vanilla rustling was a major problem for many years. Growers branded the individual beans when they were green and the markings remained after they were dried. Whenever someone suspected their beans were stolen, they could determine by their distinctive tattoo whether or not the beans were theirs.
Cloves during the 1500's were not only used to preserve meat and disguise spoilage but also in preserves ,syrups , sauces sweetmeats and clove tea. Cloves held several medicinal properties: a local anethestic, a carminative, and a breath freshner. Dentists used oil from cloves as an anesthetic to releive the pain of a toothache.

Notes about the challenge of Marmalade by Dame Zabrina
In mundane life, I was recently gifted with 2 large baskets of tangerines and lemons. What to create with this largess was an interesting puzzle. I remembered making marmalade as a child on my mothers knee and burning my arm on the cook pot as I struggled to see what my mother was creating. After cooking several batches of Apple butter (not period), I was ready for a real challenge.
There are quite a few recipes and techniques to create this preserve and none really fit the bounty spread before me. After reading the techniques for cooking Marmalade, I was ready to try my hand at making it.
The fruit was squeezed, zested and bagged on the stove cooking away when we had drop in company. The cook pot was removed from the stove and cooled off to store in the fridge. However it was several days later before it could be resumed to the stove for cooking du to mundane life. After returning the juice and water mixture to the heat with sugar added, it was a patience game waiting for the gel to set in. I decided not to store the preserve with the cloves still in it but to use the candied spice for other projects or for garnish. Enjoy


3 lbs. mixed fruit (approx 5 cups fruit juice)
(Approximately 3 grapefruit, 3 sweet oranges and 3 large lemons).
6 lbs. granulated sugar
4 Cups water(approx)
1 handful whole cloves
1 Table Vanilla Extract

1. Wash and dry the fruit, remove some of the peel using a citrus zester leaving the pith behind.set aside.
2. Cut the fruit into quarters setting the pits aside.

3. Measure the fruit and juice and place in a large bowl, with three times the quantity of cold water.

4. Tie the pits in cloth, add to the fruit and water and leave to stand for 24 hours.

5. Bring contents of bowl to the boil and cook over low heat for about 2 hours.

6. Place the zest in a small saucepan with 1 cup water and 2 Tablespoons of sugar. Cook for approx 1 hour or until tender. Drain reserving liquid .

7. Remove cloth bag with pits, measure fruit pulp and juice (about 6 pounds).

8. Return to pan with equal amount of sugar and the drained liquid from the zest.

9. Stir until sugar dissolves then boil rapidly until setting point is reached, 220 degrees. Remove marmalade from heat.

10. To test for consistency, drop a little marmalade on a saucer and put the saucer into the freezer until marmalade is cold, about 5 minutes. Tip the saucer: the marmalade should just barely run. If too thin, return the marmalade to medium-high heat and cook, testing often, until it has reached the right consistency.

11. Put marmalade into hot, sterilized pint or half-pint jars. Store in refrigerator up to 1 month or, for longer storage, seal according to reliable canning instructions.

12. Store marmalade in cool, dry place.

Making Fruit Spreads Preserve It Right PATRICIA REDLINGER & DIANE NELSON
The complete spice book-M Stuckey
The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book : Fannie Farmer
Oranges": Jennifer Wickes
International Jelly and Preserve Association
Jewish Cookery : Florence Greenberg
Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery
Vanilla History: