On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me… five gold rings.

Festive whiskey marmalade

Let me start by wishing you all a Happy Christmas, I hope Santa delivered lots of lovely gifts.

So as the song goes today’s gift is five gold rings, the best line in the entire song; I save my limited higher register of my singing voice for this one every year.

So what recipe will I gift to you today?

I have been mulling over this one for a while and considered a few options including onion rings and donuts, but have decided to present you with bagels topped with my festive whiskey marmalade.

I started making whiskey marmalade a couple of years ago and while most recipes and greengrocers for that matter will say it must be made with Seville oranges, I am deviant and just use the largest oranges I can find with plenty of lemon juice and jam sugar to raise the pectin levels.

It works and waiting for Seville oranges to come into season in January defeats the purpose of making festive marmalade!

Ok so it seems I am avoiding the subject, get to the bagel recipe already I hear you say.

Well I have unashamedly copped out of making my own bagels and the lovely gold rings in the picture are shop bought, believe me though this marmalade recipe will more than make up for this slight … and with a turkey to roast and a mountain of vegetables to peel who has time to bake bagels on Christmas morning!

PS this marmalade is great with Applewood smoked cheese and crackers for a festive nibble.


  • 1 kg large oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 kg jam sugar
  • 1 shot of whiskey
  • 6-8 cloves
  • 2 star anise


(This makes about 6-8 jars)

  • Wash the oranges and lemons and place in a large pan with cloves and star anise, cover with 2 litres of water and bring to the boil.
  • Turn down the heat and simmer for around 2 hours.
  • Remove the fruit from water and set aside to cool – for best results leave overnight. Cover the pan of cooking water and reserve for the jam.
  • When the fruit has cooled, peel the oranges. Keep half of the peel and cut into fine shreds, put the rest back into the saucepan of cooking water.
  • Cut the lemons and oranges in half and return all of the fruit to the saucepan with the cooking liquid.
  • Bring this to the boil and cook for roughly one-hour.
  • Strain the contents into a medium sized saucepan using a sieve and a spoon to push through the pulp.
  • Put a couple of saucers into the freezer to chill.
  • Add the sugar and orange peel to the saucepan and gently bring this to a simmer until the sugar has dissolved.
  • When the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and bring the jam to a hard boil for 20 – 30 minutes until the jam has set – this could take a while.
  • After 20 minutes take one of the saucers from the freezer and test the marmalade – if a skin forms on top it has set. If not return to the heat and check the set at 5 minute intervals.
  • I have made this jam a few times and getting the setting point can be tricky, but don’t give up. It is also important to use the full quantity of sugar to help it set, it might sound like a lot, but trust me the jam will not taste over sweet.
  • When the jam has reached setting point, remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to settle for a few minutes before pouring in the whiskey. If you really like your whiskey don’t be afraid to add another glug!
  • Leave the jam to cool for 20 minutes before pouring into sterilised jars. If the peel floats to the top, the jam is still warm so don’t put the lid on yet.
  • Give it a stir to redistribute the peel and then tightly place the lid on and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Enjoy and Happy Christmas!






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