Bitter orange marmalade

Bitter orange marmalade

Cairo Kitchen
12–16 medium jars
Jonathan Gregson

This recipe comes from Taya, an avid jam maker. She uses bitter oranges (laring), which are locally sourced. Marmalade is ten times better home-made than store bought and bitter orange marmalade, ‘marabet laring’, is especially addictive. Making marmalade is quite a lengthy process, but if you use bitter instead of regular oranges, the setting time is much faster thanks to their high pectin content.


Quantity Ingredient
1kg bitter oranges
1 large lemon
or 2 limes
1kg sugar


  1. Cut the oranges in half and juice them, saving all the pith and seeds for later. Using a spoon, carve out and reserve the white pith from the shells, then thinly slice the peel of the oranges. Repeat the same process for the lemon or limes.
  2. Place all the white pith and seeds in a muslin cloth (or wrap in a bandage if you don’t have a muslin cloth) and make sure the cloth is tightly tied so that nothing falls out during the cooking process.
  3. Place 1.7 litres water, the juice of both the lemon and oranges and the peel in a large pot (be sure to use a large enough pot, as you need space for the sugar). Tie the muslin bag to the side of your pot, allowing it to reach the bottom.
  4. Boil for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the liquid has been reduced by half and the peel has softened. Remove the muslin bag using a slotted spoon, pressing it on the side of the pot to squeeze out all the pectin juice. This is an important step because the more pectin you squeeze out, the better the setting of your marmalade. Remove and discard the bag.
  5. Place a small plate in the freezer to prepare for the ‘setting test’.
  6. Lower the heat and stir in the sugar. After about 10 to 15 minutes when the sugar is completely dissolved, raise the heat again to a rolling boil. Continue boiling for 30 minutes, or until the marmalade feels more syrupy and reaches the setting point. Occasionally stir the peel so that it doesn’t catch and burn at the bottom of the pot. Also keep an eye on it as it may overflow during this boiling time.
  7. Test for the setting point by removing the plate from the freezer and placing a few drops of marmalade on the plate. Allow it to cool for a minute.
  8. Push the marmalade with your finger. If it wrinkles and does not run back, you have reached the setting point, otherwise place the dish back in the freezer and try again after 10 minutes. Repeat the process until you reach the setting point.
  9. Once the setting point has been reached, take the pot off the heat and allow it to cool before ladling the marmalade into sterilised jars, using a steel funnel if you have one (you can sterilise the jars by washing and drying in the oven at 180°C).
  10. Store in a cool, dry place for up to a year.
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