Labour of Love Blood Orange Marmalade with Rosewater and Almonds

I don’t usually buy blood oranges.  They are expensive, and aside from being so very pretty, I have never been convinced that they are better than other (cheaper) citrus fruit.   I think that the ones that we get in New York are actually grown in California, but there are famously from Spain and Italy.  They are only able to develop their characteristic red color when the nights are cool, so blood oranges are only available for a couple of months when conditions are right.   I have to admit that they have a very dramatic color and  a lovely, delicate, perfumed flavour.

Blood oranges prices have been reduced  for the last week or so because it is the end of the season.   I bought a lot of them.  I wanted to take advantage of the relatively reasonable price to figure out a worthwhile use for these oh so romantic fruits.   My main interest in citrus fruit is making it into curds or marmalades, a process which involves boiling and lots of sugar.  Do I really need to pay full price for fruit that I am going to boil with sugar? No I do not.

I made A LOT of blood orange marmalade recipes.  I am usually a fan of unfussy marmalades that use the whole fruit like my favourite Bitter Seville Orange Marmalade recipe.  But with blood oranges, I found that the bitter white pith (which I usually love) overwhelmed that delicate perfumed flavour and make the marmalade pink instead of red.  It just as easily could have been grapefruit marmalade, which would have been way cheaper to make.  Also, I found out that there are three varieties of blood orange, Moro, Tarocco and Sanguinello.  The Moro variety has brightest red fruit.  Here are some pictures of the different batches of blood orange that I got and you can see how the color varies.  Of course, the shops never specify which kind of blood orange they are selling, but it might be worth asking about if you have your heart set on a very dark red marmalade.The recipe below is based on a fussy and time-consuming recipe way to make marmalade, but I think is worthwhile in this case.  This technique really lets the best qualities of the blood oranges, their intense color and their perfume, shine. It produces a lovely deep red jam with beautiful delicate wisps of citrus peel.  It is neither too sweet, nor too bitter.  It is good even without the rosewater and almond, but the they do bolster the natural perfume of the blood oranges.   Making a small amount of this marmalade for someone who you really love is very satisfying and well worth the time and cost!

This recipe makes only a small amount so you may just want to skip canning it and eat it soonish from your fridge.  I’ve included directions for canning though, in case you want to make some WAAAAAAY in advance for your Valentines Day 2013 while the blood oranges are cheap!


Inspired by Kitchenette’s Blood Orange and Meyer Lemon Marmalade and Delia Smith’s Traditional Seville Orange Marmalade and Bitter Orange Marmalade with Rosewater and Almonds in Saha by Greg and Lucy Malouf

  • 1 and 1/2 lb blood oranges (scrubbed clean)
  • 1 Meyer lemon (scrubbed clean)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons rosewater
  • 1/3 cup blanched, sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  1. Put an empty plate in the fridge. Cut the oranges and lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a large measuring cup through a fine mesh sieve.  Push on the pulp to get all of the juice out.  You should have a little over 1 cup of juice.  Save the pulp and seeds.
  2. Cut the peels in half again and place them, peel down, on a cutting board.  Using a sharp very knife (if you are brave) or a spoon (if you are accident prone), cut away all of the membrane and as much of the white pit has possible.  A little bit of pith left on is fine, but the peel should look polka-dotted.  Slice the peels into very thin slivers.  Set the membrane and pith aside along with the pulp and seeds on a square of cheesecloth and tie the corners up to make a little sack.  I found that I had enough of these odd bits to fill two pouches.
  3. Combine the juice, water, peels and sacks of odd bits in a nonreactive pot.  Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for half an hour.
  4. Remove the sacks and set them aside to cool.  Add the sugar to the juice and peel mixture and let the sugar dissolve before bringing it back to a boil
  5. When the sacks are cool enough to handle squeeze their liquid into the pot.  This liquid is full of pectin! Discard the sacks. Simmer the jam until it has reached 220 degrees  for a full minute.  If you don’t have a thermometer check the jam by dropping  a small amount of marmalade onto your chilled plate and put it back in the fridge for five minutes to see if it is set.  If not boil it for a few more minutes and check again!
  6. Let the marmalade stand for 10 minutes before potting.


  1. Boil the jars and lids for 10 minutes in a canner or a pot with some sort of rack in the bottom.  Be sure to add the glass jars before the water is boiling (to prevent cracking) and start the timer only after the water has reached a full boil. Allow the jars to air dry on a clean rack.
  2. Fill the jars with warm marmalade, leaving 1/4 inch head space at the top.  Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean cloth and seal the jars with the lid and the ring.
  3. Drop the sealed jars into to a boiling hot water (don’t forget the canner or rack) and process for 10 minutes.
  4.  Remove the jars and leave them alone.  The next day, tap the top of the can to make sure that the lid is sealed.  If the lid gives at all, the seal is no good.  Just put the unsealed ones in your fridge and eat them soonish.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Katherine says:

    I have never made marmalade before. I used to think I didn’t like it because the only marmalade I had ever had was that orange jam you find in diners, which I thought was gross. But thanks to you, i learned that good marmalade is a beautiful and delicious thing! Still. I have never made it. Do you have a recipe for grapefruit marmalade? Or is it made more or less the same way as orange marmalade?

    I was so excited about the canning thing on deep discount that I immediately bought two of them – one for myself and one for someone whose birthday is coming up! (being able to order things online easily and quickly from my PHONE is ridiculous and I should have a rule against it!)

    Anyway, maybe someday soon I will have time to make some marmalade with my new mini canner! Yay!

    1. Katherine,
      I am so happy that you got a canner. You are totally someone who will get use out of it. I have never made grapefruit marmalade, but if I was going to, I would use the same technique as I used for this blood orange marmalade (minus the almonds and rosewater) as opposed to the whole fruit method that I used for the seville orange marmalade. There is a WHOLE lot of bitter white pith in a grapefruit. I think that it would be too much. You could do this technique but simplify it by zesting the grapefruit before you juice it…that is faster than cutting the pith out and slicing the peel. I will have to try it next year. I have no more room for marmalade in my cupboards at this point. I also want to try marmalade curd!

  2. thePatternedPlate says:

    Oh you made it!!! And it looks and sounds gorgeous and I can see how well the perfume of the rosewater and that particular flavour of the almond would go with it. I have to be honest and say that, I would avoid the rosewater, simply out of personal preference. One too many Indian sweets (like me beloved Gulab Jamun) tainted with an unrestrained sprinkle of floral water. It’s all I could taste. Bah!

    But, I will so try this, when I can get blood oranges out here. That colour is mental!

    On another note; I know you love your canner so am loathed to ask, and yet, I simply must know what the difference is. I have never really boiled the jars after decanting the jam into them. I wash them really well with hot, soapy water, drip dry quickly and then put the lot onto a baking tray (lined with a clean, fresh tea towel) into a 160 deg oven until thoroughly dry. While hot, I ladle in the jam and seal down with the lid pronto. And that’s it really. No second boil. I’ve not had anything go mouldy on me yet, so was wondering if there was a difference in effect with your way.

    Also was wondering whether using a peeler, like one to peel tatties, would make it easier to get just the peel and not the pith.

    You need to make an ultra posh Victoria Sandwich (maybe with some orange water in there) with this jam spread in the middle with cream…drrrrroooool! Or Scones….

    1. Its good without the rosewater too, but in this case you just smell it, you don’t really taste it. I have two ancient bottles of “Industrial” kewra (seriously, it says “for industrial use” on the lable!) from my husband’s Indian grandma. This smells veeeeeeerrrry floral to me and I have not worked up the nerve to use it yet. Thanks for directing me toward the Delia Smith bitter orange marmalade recipe. It was a useful resource for this one!

      1. thePatternedPlate says:

        Glad to be of help! And that rosewater sounds lethal! O_o

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