Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits boiled with sugar and water. The well-known version is made from bitter orange. It is also made from lemons, limes, grapefruits, mandarins, sweet oranges, bergamots, and other citrus fruits, or a combination. Citrus is the most typical choice of fruit for marmalade, though historically the term has often been used for non-citrus preserves.
|Place of origin||Portugal|
|Main ingredients||Juice and peel of citrus fruits, sugar, water|
The preferred citrus fruit for marmalade production is the Spanish Seville or bitter orange, Citrus aurantium var. aurantium, prized for its high pectin content, which sets readily to the thick consistency expected of marmalade. The peel imparts a bitter taste.
The word "marmalade" is borrowed from the Galician-Portuguese marmelada, from marmelo 'quince'.
Unlike jam, a large quantity of water is added to the fruit in a marmalade, the extra liquid being set by the high pectin content of the fruit. In this respect it is like a jelly, but whereas the fruit pulp and peel is strained out of a jelly to give it its characteristic clarity, it is retained in a marmalade.
The Romans learned from the Greeks that quinces slowly cooked with honey would "set" when cool. The Apicius gives a recipe for preserving whole quinces, stems and leaves attached, in a bath of honey diluted with defrutum—Roman marmalade. Preserves of quince and lemon appear—along with rose, apple, plum and pear—in the Book of ceremonies of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos.
Medieval quince preserves, which went by the French name cotignac, produced in a clear version and a fruit pulp version, began to lose their medieval seasoning of spices in the 16th century. In the 17th century, La Varenne provided recipes for both thick and clear cotignac.
In 1524, Henry VIII received a "box of marmalade" from Mr Hull of Exeter. As it was in a box, this was probably marmelada, a solid quince paste from Portugal, still made and sold in southern Europe. "Marmalet" was served at the wedding banquet of the daughter of John Neville in Yorkshire in 1530. Its Portuguese origins can be detected in the remarks in letters to Lord Lisle, from William Grett, 12 May 1534, "I have sent to your lordship a box of marmaladoo, and another unto my good lady your wife" and from Richard Lee, 14 December 1536, "He most heartily thanketh her Ladyship for her marmalado". It was a favourite treat of Anne Boleyn and her ladies in waiting.
The English recipe book of Eliza Cholmondeley, dated from 1677 and held at the Chester Record Office in the Cheshire county archivists, has one of the earliest marmalade recipes ("Marmelet of Oranges") which produced a firm, thick dark paste. The Scots are credited with developing marmalade as a spread, with Scottish recipes in the 18th century using more water to produce a less solid preserve.
The first printed recipe for orange marmalade, though without the chunks typically used now, was in Mary Kettilby's 1714 cookery book, A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts (pages 78–79). Kettilby called for whole oranges, lemon juice and sugar, with the acid in the lemon juice helping to create the pectin set of marmalade, by boiling the lemon and orange juice with the pulp. Kettilby then directs: "boil the whole pretty fast 'till it will jelly" – the first known use of the word "jelly" in marmalade making. Kettilby then instructs that the mixture is then poured into glasses, covered and left until set. As the acid would create a jelly, this meant that the mixture could be pulled from the heat before it had turned to a paste, keeping the marmalade much brighter and the appearance more translucent, as in modern-day marmalade.
The Scots moved marmalade to the breakfast table, and in the 19th century the English followed the Scottish example and abandoned the eating of marmalade in the evening. Marmalade's place in British life appears in literature. James Boswell remarks that he and Samuel Johnson were offered it at breakfast in Scotland in 1773. When American writer Louisa May Alcott visited Britain in the 1800s, she described "a choice pot of marmalade and a slice of cold ham" as "essentials of English table comfort".
Marmalade first appeared in the English language in 1480, borrowed from French marmelade which, in turn, came from the Galician-Portuguese word marmelada. According to José Pedro Machado's Dicionário Etimológico da Língua Portuguesa, the oldest known document where this Portuguese word is to be found is Gil Vicente's play Comédia de Rubena, written in 1521:
The extension of marmalade in the English language to refer to a preserve made from citrus fruits occurred in the 17th century, when citrus first began to be plentiful enough in England for the usage to become common.
In Portuguese, marmelada is a preserve made from quinces, quince cheese.
There is an apocryphal story that Mary, Queen of Scots, ate it when she had a headache, and that the name is derived from her maids' whisper of Marie est malade ('Mary is ill'). In reality, the word's origin has nothing to do with Mary.
In much of Europe and Latin America, cognates for the English term marmalade are still used as a generic term for pulpy preserves of all fruits, whereas in Britain it refers solely to preserves typically of citrus peel, such as from grapefruit, orange or lemon. The name originated in the 16th century from Middle French marmelade and Portuguese, where marmelada applied to quince jam.
Under the Food and Drug Regulations (C.R.C., c. 870), marmalade is a standardized food and defined as a food of jelly-like composition that consists of at least 65% water-soluble solids. The regulations permit the use of pH adjusting agents to prevent the marmalade from dehydration, antifoaming agents to prevent blemishes on surface coatings and enable efficient filling of containers, and an acid ingredient to compensate for the natural acidity of the citrus fruit used. If pectin is added, the marmalade must contain at least 27% of peel, pulp, or juice of citrus fruit. Class II preservatives may also be used.
The Canadian Food and Drug Regulations (C.R.C., c. 870) specify that pineapple or fig marmalade must be of jelly-like consistency, achieved by boiling the pulp of juice of the fruit with water, and a sweetening ingredient. Pineapple or fig marmalade should contain at least 45% of the named fruit.
Since 1979, the EU directive 79/693/CEE define marmalade as a jam made from citrus fruits. The directive was replaced on 20 December 2001 by the ruling 32001L0113. The translated versions of this document keep the english definition of "marmalade" as referring to citrus fruits, even if the other languages use the corresponding word normally in the broader sense of a "jam".
The Scottish city of Dundee has a long association with marmalade. James Keiller and his wife Janet ran a small sweet and preserves shop in the Seagate area of Dundee. In 1797, they opened a factory to produce "Dundee Marmalade", a preserve distinguished by thick chunks of bitter Seville orange rind. The business prospered, and remains a signature marmalade producer today.
According to a Scottish legend, the creation of orange marmalade in Dundee occurred by accident. The legend tells of a ship carrying a cargo of oranges that broke down in the port, resulting in some ingenious locals making marmalade out of the cargo. However, this legend was "decisively disproved by food historians", according to a New York Times report.