Mandarin Orange Marmalade

A couple of weeks ago, my granddaughter and I made a batch of grape jelly and a batch of strawberry jam. The jam turned out wonderful and I plan on making more soon. The grape jelly, not such a great success: it’s delicious but did not set up as firm as I had expected. Over time it’s likely to get a little more firm, but as it’s not my favorite jelly, that’s not really an issue for me.

A bag of juicy Mandarin oranges.

What I really like, however, is orange marmalade. The best that I’ve had is made from Seville oranges, tangy and bitter sweet. But I haven’t seen any Seville oranges in our local markets. Mandarin oranges, however, were on sale this week at our local Giant. So I picked up a couple of bags (6 pounds worth) and shopped the internet for a good marmalade recipe.

There are a lot of recipes available online, I’m surprised anyone buys cookbooks these days, and it was easy to find a recipe that suited my low-fuss cooking style. There aren’t a lot of ingredients involved as one can imagine (fruit, water, added sugar and possibly pectin); however I threw in a cinnamon stick to give it a little extra kick, and three lemons (juice and peels) to help recover some of the acidity that the mandarin oranges were missing.

Oranges cooking on the stove, jars and lids sterilizing in their water bath.

Homemade marmalade is a much slower process than I had expected. Just squeezing the juice from two bags of oranges, then scraping and slicing the peels to add to the mixture, took more than an hour. The recipe I used suggested starting the day before with this step and I’m glad I did. The kitchen was soon filled with the pleasant aroma of fresh-squeezed oranges and reminded us of our first taste of Florida orange juice on our honeymoon years ago. Really, it was that memorable.

Mandarin orange marmalade, canned and ready for the pantry.

The recipe indicated that 4 1/2 pounds of oranges, with the added quart of water and sugar, would yield 5 1/2 cups of jam after cooking down to about half the volume. I used 6 pounds of oranges, three lemons, and less sugar than called for but more pectin, and ended up with 5 1/2 cups. It could be that I have more juice to water ratio than the recipe, but the taste test was delicious!

If you are interested in taking a look at the original recipe, you can find it on the A Family Feast website. Do you have a favorite family recipe for jams and jellies? Share in the comments section below. See you in the kitchen!

Toast with marmalade, eggplant caponata, and smoky Gouda.

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