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  • Writer's pictureKate

Recipe: Rhubarb and orange marmalade

Yes, we've had a rhubarb and orange jam recipe before: This looks similar, but is definitely not the same- in fact, the flavour is very much marmalade not rhubarb jam. We like it very much!

Rhubarb and orange marmalade

This is a lovely no-waste recipe which produces a soft preserve. We all agree it’s the best marmalade we’ve ever tasted. The texture is more like a chutney than a standard jelly-type marmalade and it has a rich, subtle flavour.

It also has the advantage that it’s much, much quicker and easier to make than normal Seville orange marmalade (no jelly bags and overnight draining!) and, yet another bonus, it only needs 1kg sugar per kg fruit compared to the normal marmalade 2:1 sugar to fruit ratio. So it’s cheaper and relatively lower sugar, too!


· 1kg rhubarb

· 1kg sugar

· 2 large sweet oranges (not Seville- they’re not in season at the same time as rhubarb and, being sour, they would need more sugar to be added to the recipe too)

You will also need

· A large pan,

· A sharp knife and chopping board,

· A fork,

· A wooden spoon,

· A large spoon or ladle,

· A chilled small plate

· 6 or so standard sized glass jars with lids or cellophane covers to seal.

If you have a jam funnel this is also helpful. If you spill any jam you will also need a clean, wet cloth, and a teatowel to tighten lids without burning fingers is a nice extra to have too.

If your jars have other flavours lingering in them (eg if they had something like pickles or curry paste in them before), bicarbonate of soda (or baking powder) is a quick and easy way to get rid of the smell- unless you like garlic marmalade…


· Chop the rhubarb into pieces about 2cm long (smaller is fine, larger will take longer to soften) and put the pieces into your pan.

· Halve the oranges, and use the fork to help squeeze all the juice out of the oranges into the pan.

· Finely chop the orange peel, and add to the pan. This will stay in the marmalade so ensure you have chopped it to a size you’re happy to spread on your toast…

· Gently heat the rhubarb, juice and peel, stirring occasionally until the rhubarb has fallen to pieces and the peel is soft. During this stage you can also prepare your jam jars- see below.

· DO NOT add any extra liquid unless you’re really having problems with sticking- the juices as the rhubarb softens should be plenty.

· DO NOT add the sugar until the peel is as soft as you want it- it will not soften further once the sugar is added.

· Once the peel is soft, add the sugar. Stir regularly and bring the marmalade to a boil. The mixture will become much runnier as the sugar dissolves.

· Wrinkle test the marmalade for readiness every so often:

o Put a small drop of marmalade onto the chilled plate.

o Wait until it has cooled.

o Push the marmalade with your finger.

o If the surface wrinkles (rather than your finger just making a track straight through), the marmalade is ready to go into jars.

o The longer the marmalade is cooked, the firmer the set will be. You can choose to make a firm or a soft set marmalade- it’s completely up to you how long you cook the marmalade for, provided you boil it so that it is sterile.

Jam jar preparation

There are lots of ways to sterilise jars (and lids) for use. This is the one we usually use.

· Wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water with some bicarbonate of soda added (bicarb is optional). If you leave the jars to soak for a while, the labels usually come off easily.

· Do not dry the jars or lids.

· Put the lids in a bowl or pan and pour over boiling water. Leave covered (with a plate or lid).

· Put the jars on their sides or upside down in the oven at 160 degrees C for at least 15 minutes.

· Once your marmalade (or other preserve) is ready, take the hot jars out of the oven and fill them straight away, taking care to keep the rims of the jars clean (this is where a funnel is helpful).

· Use a clean wet cloth to wipe any spilt jam off the rims or the jars will not seal properly and bacteria or fungi could get in.

· Screw your lids onto the jars, tightening them using a clean tea towel so you don’t burn your fingers (or follow the instructions on the cellophane jam jar lids pack).

· As the jars cool, you will hear popping noises from the lids as the safety buttons pop down- this is a good sign that your jars have sealed properly.

· Once the jars are cool, push any safety buttons that haven’t gone down in and see if they stay down and check that any lids without safety buttons curve down a little in the middle.

· Any lids with safety buttons that pop up haven’t sealed properly- store them in the fridge and use them first. If you are concerned that any other jars haven’t sealed, store them in the fridge too.

· Properly sealed jars should keep in a cool dark place for at least a year.

* If selling your preserve it is recommended that you do not reuse lids, as the plastic seal on the inside can be damaged after the first use, risking the jam spoiling. We find lids are generally fine for reusing a number of times at home: Check that there is no visible damage to the inside of the lid, such as dents, scratches or rust spots on the plastic. Do not reuse lids (or jars!) with any signs of damage. Preserves containing vinegar are particularly problematic with damaged lids due to the acid reacting with the iron in the lid.

* Never put hot substances into cold jars- the change in temperature between the inside and outside of the jar can crack it, wasting your newly made preserve!

Alternatively, you can sterilise a few jars at a time by putting them damp into a microwave (check carefully for how long you need to do this depending on the power of your microwave) or using a hot cycle of a dishwasher timed to end a bit before your jam is ready.

NEVER put metal jar lids into a microwave!

Enjoy your marmalade on toast, in cakes, roly poly puddings or with crackers and cheese!

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