Spoonfuls of Germany

Why ‘Marmelade’ lost its name


Strawberry Jam

If you want to pick up what is commonly known as Marmelade (jam) from a supermarket in Germany, you will look for it in vain – not because there is none but because jam in Germany may not be called “Marmelade” unless it contains at least 20% citrus fruit. Everything else is called “Konfitüre”.

The German Konfitürenverordnung, (Jam Regulation) based on the EU Council Directive relating to jams, jellies and marmelades and chestnut purée and its amendments, sets standards for the fruit content and permissible ingredients of jams and jellies. As a consumer it is good to know that when the label says “Konfitüre extra”, the jam must contain a minimum of 45% fruit, and “Konfitüre” must have at least 35% fruit. For some fruits, there are exceptions from that rule, for example, currant or quince jam must only contain 35%, or 25% fruit respectively.

As a native speaker of German in a world of globalization of English, and the rampant use of Denglish in Germany, I find the loss of the word Marmelade a bit hard to swallow. Marmelade as the term for jam made of citrus fruit is particularly British. To me the word Marmelade has a comforting, homey, familiar ring, unlike the word Konfitüre. And indeed, before the German Jam Regulation became effective in 1982, Konfitüre designated only jam with whole or large pieces of fruit suspended in jelly. I do not understand why the German word Marmelade had to yield, after it has been around for more than 400 years.

Then again, what do I care? The renaming of all non-citrus jams to Konfitüre only applies to large manufacturers. An amendment to the German Jam Regulation cuts small manufacturers some slack and allows them to label their product “Marmelade” when selling only at local and farmers’ markets. And of course, as a private individual you can make as much Marmelade as you like and call it such.

Apricot Lavender Jam

Apricot -Lavender Jam (for the recipe click on the image)

And that is what a growing number of people in Germany do. Making your own jams and jellies, and canning in general, is such a trend that canning jar manufacturer Weck (see my blog post about the inventor of the jars) started to publish its own bimonthly print magazine this year.

I am always amazed by the new combinations that pop up in Germany: zucchini-pineapple jam, raspberry-banana jam, pumpkin-carrot jam… Leading jam manufacturer Schwartau releases special editions for a limited time and is also creative in its name-giving. Cherry jam with marzipan, one of the jams in its winter jam collection, is called Kufenflitzer (blade runner).

As the days get shorter and colder, it is time again in Germany to make Baked Apples (Bratäpfel), a dessert that has seen a big comeback in recent years. And, wouldn’t you know it, the apples also inspired a jam!

I experimented with it this weekend and I am happy to report that there are ten jars sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be labeled Bratapfelmarmelade.


Baked Apple Jam (Bratapfelmarmelade)

Most recipes I found contain pectin. Although I always make jams and jellies with pectin because it allows for faster cooking, hence fruitier jam, and the use of less sugar (see my blog post about comparison testing German and US pectin products), I skipped it in this recipe. Because the apples are baked first, the puree is already very thick.

I made two variations of the jam, one with almonds, yellow raisins and Amaretto, and another with walnuts, raisins and rum. Below they are listed separately. To make both, use 6.5 pounds (3 kg) apples for baking, then proceed cooking the jam in separate pots.

Any apples suitable for baking may be used. They do not have to be pretty or of equal size but they must have a good flavor. In fact I had a basket full of mismatched organic varieties and they worked fine.

Apples for Bratapfelmarmelade

For the jam with walnuts, raisins and rum:

½ cup (100 g) raisins

2 tablespoons golden rum

3¼ pounds (1.5 kg) baking apples, washed

½ cup (50 g) walnut halves

1¼ cups (250 g) sugar, more to taste

2 tablespoons vanilla sugar (see my recipe here, or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract + 1 tablespoon sugar)

1½ teaspoons German 9-spice gingerbread mix (see my recipe here), or pumpkin pie spice mix

¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely grated organic lemon zest

For the jam with almonds, yellow raisins and Amaretto:

½ cup (100 g) golden raisins

2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur

3¼ pounds (1.5 kg) baking apples, washed

½ cup (70 g) unpeeled raw almonds

1¼ cups (250 g) sugar, more to taste

2 tablespoons vanilla sugar (see my recipe here, or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract + 1 tablespoon sugar)

1½ teaspoons German 9-spice gingerbread mix (see my recipe here), or pumpkin pie spice mix

¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely grated organic lemon zest

sog baked apples

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (225 degrees C).

2. Wash the raisins and pat dry with paper towels. Place them in a small bowl with the rum/Amaretto liqueur.

3. Place the apples in an ovenproof dish and add a few tablespoons water. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the apples are very soft and start to crack. If using apples of different size, you might want to leave larger apples in the oven for a bit longer. Remove the apples from the oven and let them cool. Leave the oven on and place the walnuts/almonds on a small ungreased baking sheet and toast them until fragrant. Check often to prevent them from burning. When I have the oven hot anyway, I prefer to toast nuts and almonds this way, they turn brown more evenly than on the stovetop.

4. Cut the apples into large chunks and pass them through the food mill with a coarse blade into a pan. Remove any seeds than may end up in the pan. Add the juice that has accumulated in the baking dish to the pan.

5. Add the sugar, vanilla sugar, Gingerbread spice mix, lemon juice and zest. Taste for sweetness. If your apples were rather tart, you might want to add more sugar but bear in mind that the raisins will add some more sweetness. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the jam is so thick that the spoon leaves a trace.

6. Remove the pan from the heat. Coarsely chop the toasted walnuts/almonds. Add them to the jam together with the raisins and their liquid. Stir well to combine. Fill the piping hot jam in sterilized canning jars with new lids and process them in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes 5 to 6 half-pint jars


11 thoughts on “Why ‘Marmelade’ lost its name

  1. Great post! This was perfect for me to stumble on today–I went apple picking in a friend’s orchard yesterday and came home with buckets and buckets of apples! I’ll give your recipe a try. Thanks.

  2. Oh. I always thought marmalade was the term (in British English at least) given to jams that had the fruit rind in. More fool me!

    We can get various British marmalades in our Karstadt here, but I usually get friends to smuggle them over for me when they visit 🙂

    p.s. your baked apple jam sounds delicious!

    • You might be right about the rind of the citrus fruit, I did not look closer into the requirements for what in Germany may be called “Marmelade”, just that it must be made of citrus fruit.

  3. Nadia, I”m currently visiting Mainz, from Oregon, and I have even seen Weck Jars advertised in next week’s ALDI Süd ads. Weck has come a long way! Loved your post, as usual.

  4. Thanks for defending the german “Marmelade”… I like the word (prononced the westphalian way without “r”) “Maaaaamelaaade”: Homemade Strawberry Maaamelaaade on a fresh breadroll on a sunday morning – a real souldfood during my childhood!

  5. Pingback: Links: Seed Saving, Shrubs, and a Winner - Food in Jars

  6. I just wanted to inform you that The Telegraph has plagiarised your article, lifting an entire section without quotations or credit:


    • Thanks, Daniel for pointing this out. Yes, it is indeed some of my wording verbatim, and my blog post precedes the article by almost three years but there is nothing I can do. There is no copyright on this kind of thing, so I am trying to take it as a compliment that The Telegraph used my very words 🙂

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