When mandarins, tangerines and tangelos are in season, they’re IN SEASON. Aside from eating them fresh and dehydrating the peels to use in rich Asian stews, not many people know about things to do with them though, so here’s a simple recipe for making delicious mandarin marmalade.
You can of course make a refreshing cordial with them by adapting this recipe, and they make an excellent infused booze for Christmas (basically just combine cumquats, sugar and either brandy or vodka and let sit for 3-4 months before straining), but if you’ve got a bit of time, cumquat marmalade is a delicious way to preserve them. You can also try your hand at a tasty mandarin chutney as well, which pairs beautiful with hearty curries and strong cheeses.
Making marmalade is generally a 2-day job, but this recipe takes significantly less effort than most marmalade recipes, and aside from the bit where you have to cool down the boiled fruit, it’s really quick.
1 kg mandarins
0.5 kg lemons
1-1.5 kg sugar
- Wash fruit well in warm water.
- Just cover fruit with water in a large pot. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the skins are so soft they break apart when you poke them.
- Allow to cool. Overnight is good, otherwise allow a few hours.
- Pull out lemons, then chuck mandarins in a blender and chop coarsely.
- Measure the fruit/liquid mixture to your pot. Heat to almost boiling.
- Add 3/4 as much sugar, and stir continuously until it’s dissolved.
- Bring to a rolling boil and keep there until it reaches a ‘set’.
- Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal while hot.
Store in a cool dark cupboard for potentially years before opening, then in the fridge once you’ve cracked the jar.
* This recipe can be made with cumquat replacing the mandarins if you like.
* Adding lemon is important to help this marmalade set, as mandarins don’t have a huge amount of pectin or acid in them. Lemons contain high levels of citric acid, which can help reach a set. There’s also lots of pectin in lemon skin, pith and seeds, which is why we add them too.
* You can add the lemons to the marmalade if you want, but you might want to remove any seeds and scrape off some of the pith from the skins first, as it can turn your preserve bitter.
* It can still be tricky to reach a firm set with mandarin marmalade, so you may like to have some pectin on hand to add if it looks like your batch is struggling to gel enough. You can buy powdered or liquid pectin either on its own or in a mixture called Jam Sugar, but you can also make your own by boiling down really tart apples or crabapples (foraged ones are great for this) and straining the liquid. We freeze this in ice cubes so we can just add a few when making preserves with low-pectin fruit.
* For an extra special adult’s version of this marmalade, add a dash of orange liqueur and stir it through just before jarring up. This makes an excellent festive gift.
* When you’ve filled all of your jars, there will be some scrappy bits of marmalade left in the pot: scrape it out with a spatula and keep in a little container for adding to drinks. It makes a most excellent ‘solid cordial’, and it goes especially well with a G&T
Permaculture Principle 2: Catch & store energy; 3: Obtain a yield; 6: Produce no waste; 10: Use and value diversity.