The Chinese love having mandarin oranges (or “kam”) in their houses over Chinese New Year because “kam” translates to gold in the Cantonese dialect. It signifies abundance and prosperity for the whole year.
These mandarin oranges are indeed auspicious to have in the house. However, every year without fail, we face the problem of trying to finish them before they rot. Honestly, I’m not sure how many mandarin oranges one can have in a single day.
Faced with a mountain-high pile of mandarin oranges, I decided that this year, I would intervene and not let them go to waste. An orange cake would be lovely but with kueh lapis amongst many other leftover Chinese New Year baked goodies, I decided that perhaps jam would be a better alternative.
I remember making grapefruit jam some years back. It was far too bitter for my liking -it may be due to the fruit itself and/or perhaps, I did not remove the piths completely. It was also a little too runny. Still, I can remember my euphoric state then (kind of like being on jam cloud no. 9) – it was just fascinating that I was able to make and bottle my own jam – au naturel, no preservatives added.
In fact, even though jam making sounds easy especially with its extremely short list of ingredients, there is a lot more science behind it than one can imagine. One has to understand how jam gels (due to Pectin), how sugar helps in the process of jamming (besides its function as a sweetener). Check out this article which I found really informative for first time jammers.
This time round, my mandarin orange marmalade is pretty good – no bitterness, it was simply citrus-y and sweet like the fruit itself. I must admit that when it got tiring trying to remove the pith from the zest, I took the easy way out by reducing the amount of zest in the marmalade! I am still having regrets over that. Aside from that, there might have been some mischievous seeds in the mandarin oranges that might have slipped past my vigilant eyes and made its way into the jam. I spotted some during the cooking process and fished them out. I do hope that I had managed to get all of them out!
Well, I’m still finding my way around the process of jam and marmalade making. It still holds as much fascination for me as it did a few years ago. Homemade jams just taste so much better than the store-bought kinds – on top of the fact that it was made with love. I have in mind a whole range of jams to experiment with: rhubarb and strawberry, mixed berries, plum and the list goes on!
I know what this marmalade will be perfect with: some warm raisins scones, or a wholemeal toast, pancakes….and also it will be a perfect filling for these thumbprint cookies!
So let’s jam on! What are you waiting for?
Recipe: Mandarin Orange Marmalade
Makes about 1.1 litre of marmalade ( I filled them in 1 big jar and 3 small jars)
7 medium mandarin oranges (each weighing about 100-120g)
juice from 2 whole lemons
750g caster sugar (Sugar needs to be about 60 -65% in concentration to form a gel)
Optional: 200g dried apricots, sliced (for luck)
1. Scrub the skins of the oranges well. Peel off the skin and using a paring knife, remove the pith(white parts) from the zest. Discard the pith and slice the zest into thin strips.
2. Fill a small pot with tap water just enough to cover the orange zest. Bring the water to a boil, and pour it away, draining the orange zest with a colander. Repeat this process three times. This is to remove the bitterness that the zest contains.
3. Chop up the flesh of the mandarin oranges into 1 inch pieces and remove the seeds.
4. Add the prepared zest, flesh of the mandarin oranges, lemon juice, sugar, water, dried apricots to a pot and bring to a rapid boil under medium heat, stirring occasionally.
5. Turn it down to a medium-low heat and continue to cook the jam until it thickens and gels. I cooked it to about 104 degrees celcius. The gelling point for jams is about 103 – 105 degrees celcius (This is so for countries at sea level like Singapore. On a higher altitude, the gelling point temperature falls to range of 97 to 100 degrees celcius.)
6. Pour your hot jam into hot sterilised glass or mason jars and seal while still hot. Store the jams in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate once opened.
Tips for jammin’:
*To sterilise the glass jar, wash the jar and lid with hot water and soap. Rinse well and place the jar in a preheated oven at 160 degrees celcius for 15- 20 minutes or until dry.
*You can test if your marmalade is set by spooning a dollop of it onto a cold plate that has been chilled in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Leave it for a minute or so before using your finger to run through the dollop of marmalade. It should wrinkle and not flood back onto itself.
The best part of orange marmalade to me is the peel. How industrious of you!
thanks… though I think I only added the zest of 4 out of the 8 oranges! My hand was cramping after awhile!
This looks so vividly orange and lovely! And a great idea to use up all of those oranges too Jo! 😀
Thanks Lorraine! Have lots more ideas for the mandarin oranges but no time to execute!
This is excellent- I bought a big bag of mandarins recently, and only realized after getting them home that I had no idea what to do with them. Your recipe has saved the day (and the oranges from going to waste)!
That’s great to hear!! Hope you like the jam as much as I do 😉
I just love your recipe and especially love homemade jam (orange marmalade is a favorite). You’ve made it look simple for a beginner!
Thanks! it’s really easy even for beginners. Do give it a go since you like marmalade!
Hi Jo, Thought I’d pop over and give your blog some loving 😉 absolutely ADORE the cute little labels and lid covers! Pretty please try the Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam sometime and post the recipe for me, sounds yum!
P.S. Is there a certain program you use to add the recipe title over the photo? I want to do something like that on my blog but can’t figure out how (so hopeless at photoshop type programs!)
Yeah I’ll try out the rhubarb and strawberry jam soon! (once they are in season!)
I use photoshop. It’s very simple – to insert text onto your photo, go to the Type tool icon (T). It is on your toolbox (appears on the left when you open photoshop). Then click on the area of your photo where you want to insert text. You can then type in your text. You can change the font size, colour, font by clicking on the top menu. Hope this helps!
Thanks Jo. Might have to invest in photoshop or something similar, your photos are always so beautiful (all of mine are just taken on my iPhone).
Looking forward to trying out your next jam 🙂
you are making me blush! I’m just an amateur and still learning everyday! and actually iphone photography (esp instagram) is really am amazing now!
So yummy! It turned out nicely … I had the hand-cramping problem too, but I scraped out the pith with a lemon zester, having discovered that it works better with much less strain on the hands. Thanks Jo!
Sounds like a great idea. I will try that with a lemon zester next time too! glad that the jam turned out nicely for you! =)
I am growing my own stevia and would like to use that for sweetening the marmalade. In this recipe, do the seeds provide enough pectin to make this marmalade instead of soup? And if additional thickening is required I thought I’d use chia seeds.
What do you think?
Yes. In fact, orange has enough natural pectin on its own. So you do not need additional pectin.
Have not tried making it with stevia but if you are familiar with it, I don’t see why not.
Hope this helps!
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