Bittersweet Boozy Goodness- Old Fashioned Orange Marmalade (with bitters and sour cherries)

IMG_0655Just before Christmas, I came home one night to find the teenage daughter of one of my neighbors sitting in our cold and dirty hallway.  She was locked out.  I invited her into my apartment and offered to feed her dinner.   Her mother found the note that we had left her when she came home, and actually came to get her daughter right as we were about to eat, but allowed her to stay and have a meal.  My friend Bethany also came over fro dinner, and the three of us had a nice evening talking about the books my young neighbor was reading and her school activities.   After dinner the young woman went home and Bethany and I continued to visit.  About a half hour later, there was a knock at the door.  The mom had sent her daughter over with a GIANT bag of oranges as a thank you gift.  So nice!

Bethany and I both like to make marmalade and we both blog about it.  Bethany has an amazing recipe for mulled wine marmalade on her blog Transported Tastes.  I usually make Seville orange marmalade because I like it bitter.  Sometime’s I like to add whisky to my bitter marmalade.  Bethany is in medical school so she did not have time to make marmalade with me, but she suggested that I make “Old fashioned”  marmalade with bitters and muddled cherries.  I thought that this sounded like a brilliant way to make a bag of oranges in to a big batch of bittersweet boozy goodness.  Bethany is really smart.  If this doctor thing doesn’t work out she could totally become a small batch gourmet marmalade entrepeneur.


  • 1/2 cup dry sour cherries
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 2 Tablespoons Angostura bitters
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds of oranges (4 large or 5 small)
  • 1 lemon
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 cups white sugar
  1. Put an empty plate in the fridge.
  2. Combine the dry cherries, whiskey and bitters and set them aside at room temperature.
  3. Simmer the oranges in water for about 1 and 1/2 hours or until the skin is tender and easily pierced.
  4. Remove the oranges and let them cool.  There should be about a cup of the orange cooking liquor left in the pot.
  5. Set a sieve over the pot.  Cut the oranges in half  squeeze all of the juice out  through the sieve into the pot.  Pulp can be tossed into the pot as well, but all the seeds and membranes should get tied up in a square of cheesecloth.  They get boiled along with the marmalade so that their pectin will help to thicken the mix.
  6. If you like you can take the time to scrape some of the white pith away from the peels and discard it.  It has a bitter flavour and if you like bitter marmalade you should just leave it.  Slice the peels into strips of the size you like to find in your marmalade.  You don’t have to add all the peels if you don’t want you.
  7. Add the peels to the pot, along with 1 cup of the orange cooking liquor and the cheesecloth pouch of pips and membranes.
  8. Stir the mixture over medium high heat, stirring frequently, scraping the bottom of the pot. After 10 minutes or so remove the pouch of seeds and membranes and set it aside to cool.
  9. The marmalade should simmer until the it has reached 220 degrees and stayed there for one minute (that is the highest temp on a standard meat thermometer). If you do not have a thermometer, wait until the marmalade has simmered for 20 minutes, put a small spoonful of it on the cooled plate and return it to the fridge for five minutes (you can keep the jam simmering meanwhile).  After 5 minutes you should be able to tell if the jam is set.  If it is still runny repeat the testing process in another 5 minutes.
  10. Once the Marmalade is done, stir in the cherries, whisky and  bitters.  Don’t forget to squeeze all of the pectin filled juice out of your pouch of pips and add it to your marmalade!  Remove the marmalade from the heat and allow it to cool for 15 minutes before potting (if you don’t wait all of the peels and cherries will sink to the bottom).
  11. This recipe is small, so you may just want to put your marmalade in the fridge and eat it all up in the near future.  It is good on buttermilk drop biscuits,  gluten-free popoversgluten-free buttermilk biscuitsgluten-free custard topped spoonbreadgluten-free pancakescornmeal, molasses millet muffins or gluten-free Irish soda bread inspired scones . If you want to save your marmalade, follow the directions below for potting your marmalade.
  1. On another burner, you can be sterilizing a pint  canning jar.  Boil the jar and lid for 10 minutes in a canner or a large 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 jar, leaving 1/4 inch head space at the top.  Wipe the rim of the jar 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.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Bethany says:

    Another benefit to this recipe: socially acceptable way to have whiskey in the morning!

  2. Bethany says:

    I also like to keep my sterilized jars on a cookie tray in a 200 degree oven while I make the jam. It keeps them warm and any jam you might spill while filling them falls on the cookie sheet for easy cleanup.

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