How to avoid foaming spillovers while making marmalade

A technique to keep the foam down while making marmalade so you don't have a syrupy stove.
(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

This story is a component of the feature “Seasons of Preserves: Citrus Marmalade,” which is part of a four-part series on preserving fruit at home called “L.A. in a Jar.”

Making marmalade, like all fruit preserves, can get a little sticky. All the bubbling fruit and sugar produces a lot of foam that threatens to billow over the side of the pot. That’s why I always cook my marmalade in the largest pot I own, to help prevent spillover. But even then, sometimes the foam will get scarily close to the edge and stirring the marmalade, counterintuitively, makes the foaming worse.

Instead, I like to do what I call “spooning the foam”: Rather than stirring the marmalade or even trying to stir the foam to get it to subside, I’ve found that if you take a slotted spoon and continuously spoon the foam at the surface in the center, it breaks the surface tension of the foam and keeps it from rising any further. I do this for about the first 10 minutes of cooking the marmalade and then the foam typically subsides on its own as the water content is cooked off and you are near the end of cooking the marmalade. It may seem a silly movement, but it’s better than wiping pools of sticky syrup off your stove afterward.