How to Thicken Orange Marmalade

Orange marmalade, a tart and slightly bitter combination of orange and lemon fruit and finely chopped rind, was traditionally thickened by adding sugar and slowly heating the mixture until the sugar, water and citrus juice formed a thick sugar syrup.

Today, many cooks use pectin to speed the process of thickening orange marmalade. Low-sugar pectin reduces the amount of sugar needed to gel the marmalade, making it an attractive option for health-conscious orange marmalade lovers.

Add 1 cup of sugar for each cup of cooked orange and lemon fruit and chopped rind in water. Stir the sugar into the fruit mixture with a wooden spoon.

Heat the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat on the hob. Stir occasionally.

Scoop up a spoonful of the marmalade in a metal spoon 10 minutes after adding the sugar. Allow the marmalade to drip from the spoon back into the pan.

Observe the drip pattern. When the marmalade begins to thicken, two large drips will form on the edge of the spoon. When the two drips combine and fall from the edge of the spoon in a smooth sheet, the marmalade has thickened sufficiently. This may take up to 30 minutes of cooking.

Remove the marmalade from the heat. Pour it into sterilised jars for further processing and storage.

Mix pectin in the amount recommended by the manufacturer with 1/4 cup of sugar. Stir the mixture into the orange and lemon fruit and rind.

Mix sugar in the amount recommended by the pectin manufacturer into the fruit mixture and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil on the hob.

Boil the marmalade mixture vigorously for one minute. Remove it from heat and pour it into sterilised jars for processing and storage.


A thermometer can be used to determine the gelling point of marmalade using the sugar syrup method. Remove the marmalade from the heat when the mixture reaches a temperature of 104 degrees Celsius.

Things You'll Need

  • Orange and lemon fruit and rind cooked in water
  • Sugar
  • Wooden spoon
  • Timer
  • Metal spoon
  • Pectin
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About the Author

Based in central Missouri, Rachel Steffan has been writing since 2005. She has contributed to several online publications, specializing in sustainable agriculture, food, health and nutrition. Steffan holds a Bachelor of Science in agriculture from Truman State University.