Why You Don't Need To Add Pectin To Homemade Marmalade

Fans of the "Paddington Bear" series all know that there is one homemade delight that fuels this trouble-prone little bear: marmalade. Of course, we mere humans will never come close to making marmalade as magical as Aunt Lucy's, but that is no reason not to try. Marmalade is a uniquely British obsession. However, the jam is made of a type of citrus fruit known as citrus aurantium that hails from Seville, Spain and is exported to UK markets, according to LongReads.

If you're looking to take a leaf out of Paddington's book and make enough homemade marmalade to feed a small army, there are a few fruit preserving tips you should know before you begin. One question you'll likely wonder before making marmalade is: Will I need to add pectin in order for it to set? That's a fair question. After all, as Food & Wine explains, several fruit preserves use powdered pectin as a setting agent. But, with marmalade, there is no need to add pectin at all. 

A natural gelling agent

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of why you don't need pectin in your marmalade, we need to establish the differences between marmalade, jam, and jelly. We all know that jam and jelly are different, but it's not widely known that marmalade doesn't technically fall into either category. Where jam is made with whole or chunks of fruit mixed with sugar, and jelly is fruit juice mixed with sugar, marmalade is a type of citrus fruit preserve that utilizes the entirety of the fruit, including the rind (via MasterClass). That's why you can find marmalades made of lemon or grapefruit.

Now, citrus fruits, like lemons and our marmalade making friends, the Seville oranges, have naturally high pectin levels, per SFGate. So, Food & Wine explains, the reason you do not need to add powdered pectin to your marmalade is because there is already a very high amount contained in the rinds of the oranges. As marmalade uses the whole of the orange, the pectin in the chopped rinds will act as the gelling agent that will set the marmalade. 

The addition of the rinds also adds the required sour side to the otherwise sweet marmalade. A simple spread of a good marmalade on a slice of toast will convince even the harshest skeptic that the little bear from Darkest Peru is on to something.