Marmalade is a from of fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of fruits and berries. The dessert has Greek roots but Portuguese name. The Greeks were the first ones who started to cook quince, a fruit similar in appearance to a pear with bitter taste when raw. However once slowly cooked with honey quince turns into incredibly delicious treat.
The Greek name for marmalade, μελίμηλον (melímēlon) consists of two words “μέλι” (meli), “honey” + “μήλον” (mēlon), “apple” The name appeared in Latin as melimelum, “honey apple”, and further settled in Portuguese marmelo, “quince”. In english language the word “marmalade” appeared in 1480, and initially was borrowed from French marmelade which, in turn, came from the Portuguese word marmelada -a preserve made from quinces.
The Greeks eventually passed this knowledge to Romans. The Romans documented the recipe in the Book of ceremonies of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. The very original marmalade was made of preserving whole quinces, stems and leaves attached, in a bath of honey. The Romans didn’t limit themselves with quince only and experimented with other flavours like lemons, roses, apples, plums and pears.
From the Romans marmalade recipe spread across Europe. The first printed recipe for modern marmalade was published in A Collection of Above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery by Mary Kettilby’s cookbook in London in 1714. Kettibly suggested to boil whole oranges with lemon juice and sugar, by that helping marmalade to solidify.
I personally would refrain from sugar in the recipe and would rather go for what the Greeks did – use fresh quince or oranges and replace sugar with raw organic honey.
Here’s a Guince-orange sugar-free marmelade recipe
- 1 quince
- 4 oranges
- 5 tbs raw honey
- Boil fruits for around 10 minutes, then remove from heat, strain the water, and let the them cool down. Once cool take the skins off and set aside.
- Cut fruits into tiny pieces and blend in some lemon juice and skin from 1 orange.
- Bring the mixture to a low boil in a pot and cook for 2 minutes, then add honey. Cook for 20 minutes constantly stirring. To check the consistency place 1 tea spoon of marmalade on the plate. If it has the consistency of soft spread, so ahead and transfer it to a jar. If you want to harden it, then proceed stirring for another 10-15 minutes. Your marmalade is ready! Kept in a fridge it should last for around 10 days.
Cookie: Before you proceed to your kitchen and start making your own marmalade, check The Book of Marmalade by C.Anne Wilson for more detailed history of marmalade.