I used to be a picky eater as a child (and probably into my early 20’s, if I’m honest). Some of my food dislikes were due to strong tastes that I wasn’t used to (like blue cheese or olives). Other dislikes were due to a fear of the unknown (enter fish, of all types), and some might have been due to a texture dislike (mashed potatoes and cooked peas). Now that I’m all grown up, I can safely say that I’m over most of my picky tendencies – I will try anything at least once – and even though I still don’t love mashed potatoes, Grandma no longer needs to leave me one plain boiled potato to eat 🙂
One of those foods I remember not being keen on was marmalade. As a child, I think I found the jam too bitter with the pith and peel. Jonty attests to being in the same boat.
We were at the supermarket a few months ago, looking for another jar of honey, when we started perusing all the different jams. When we saw the marmalade, we bought a jar, wondering if our palates had changed over the years. I think we were both convinced that our adult taste buds would over-rule our childhood dislike.
And guess what? We were totally wrong! Our first spoonful had us each thinking, “Yup, this is what it tasted like as a child.” But because we’re loath to waste food, we finished the jar over the next few weeks.
The funny thing was, though, that by the time we finished the jar our taste buds had adapted and we didn’t mind the taste of the marmalade! While still a bit bitter for both of us, it was definitely elevated from our childhood memories.
Through the process of finishing this jar, I was convinced that I could make a better marmalade – one with the bitter edge taken off. I scoured the internet and found that marmalade is one of the easier jams to make, because citrus peel is naturally abundant in pectin, so you don’t need to add additional pectin to get the jam to gel. Most of the recipes, however, call to do crazy things with the pith + peel + muslin cloths + straining.
I couldn’t be bothered for that.
Then, the March issue of Bon Appetit came to my rescue – a recipe for grapefruit marmalade, and it looked really easy.
I tweaked the recipe and turned it into a ginger-citrus marmalade, the major difference being the amount of sugar I added. The original recipe called for 2 grapefruits + 2 full cups of sugar.
I couldn’t bring myself to add that much sugar!
Fruit is naturally sweet – there’s absolutely no need to add so much sugar, especially when you’re making a small batch and you don’t need to preserve it.
For my first marmalade attempt, I cut the sugar down by half, to 1 cup. It tasted fantastic! Jonty deemed it to be “what marmalade is supposed to taste like”! I told him about my sugar reduction and we both wondered if I could reduce it more, and so I did.
My second batch took the sugar amount down to a 1/2 cup (and from the original recipe, requiring 2 cups, this is pretty significant). We had a bit of the first batch left, so we did a blind-taste-test! Both looked similar, so there were no give-aways there.
Jonty ended up preferring the second batch with less sugar – he actually thought it was the first batch because he thought it tasted brighter. So there you go! Marmalade has officially entered our small rotation of Pearson-approved jams (raspberry being our first true love).
You start by adding the oranges, ginger, a small amount of orange peel, vanilla and water to a pot and reduce this down. This will take about 1 to 1.5 hours. Then add the sugar. I recommend tasting the orange mixture before you add the sugar. If you think it tastes pretty good as it is, add in 1/2 cup of sugar. If you would like your marmalade to be slightly sweeter, add a little bit more, up to 1 cup. Continue to simmer to reduce the mixture again, another hour or so. You know the jam is finished when it sticks to the back of a spoon without sliding off. At this point, stir in a bit of lemon juice and transfer it to a container with a tight-fitting lid.
That’s all it takes to make the best marmalade of your life! 😉
- 350 - 375 g (2 medium) oranges, diced (peel and white pith removed)
- Peel from of ⅓ orange, julienned (no white pith attached)
- 2.5 cm piece of ginger, peeled and diced
- 2½ cups water
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup sugar (I used ¼ cup brown sugar + ¼ cup white sugar)
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
- In a medium saucepan, combine the diced oranges, orange peel, diced ginger, vanilla extract and water. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium-low heat and allow to simmer until the mixture has reduced by ¾. This will take about 1 to 1.5 hours.
- Taste the reduced orange mixture to decide on the amount of sugar needed. If you prefer a very sweet marmalade, stir in up to 1 cup of sugar. Otherwise, ½ cup is enough.
- Continue to simmer until the jam starts to bubble and the mixture sticks to the back of a spoon, about 1 hour.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
- Transfer to a glass container with a tight-fitting lid and allow to cool, uncovered, before eating.
Enjoy this Ginger-Citrus Marmalade!