If by now you still have a lot of mandarin oranges leftover from Chinese New Year, it’s time to make marmalade instead of letting them rot and go to waste.
By modern definition, marmalade is a jam or preserve made with citrus fruit, although historically the term was used for non-citrus preserves, specifically quince.
In one of the last recordings of Queen Elizabeth II before her death, she revealed to Paddington Bear that she too always kept a marmalade sandwich in her handbag. As a result, Paddington Bear became a symbol of mourning for the Queen and mourners left stuffed bears and marmalade sandwiches at various memorials to the Queen.
Marmalade may be made with any citrus fruit such as orange, mandarins, lemon, lime, grapefruit or a combination, and it usually includes its pulp and rind.
Unlike a jam, a lot of water is boiled with the fruit in a marmalade, and the extra water is set by the high pectin content in citrus fruits, particularly in the seeds.
Rather than picking out the seeds after the marmalade is ready it is easier, albeit a bit time consuming, to seed the segments beforehand and pack them in a bag for easy removal. I used a metal tea infuser to contain the seeds, but you may tie up the seeds in muslin cloth or a tea sachet.
If you like more rind in your marmalade, you may add more than the rind of two oranges. Do take note that rind imparts a bitter taste, so the extra rind will add more bitterness to the marmalade.
If you have made jam or preserves before, then you would be familiar with the test for jell point. Just be sure to have the dish properly chilled so that you can see clearly the parting of the sea of jelly. And chill more than one dish in the freezer so that you have another dish to use if the first test had revealed that the jam was not ready.
When the marmalade has sufficiently jelled, fill immediately into sterilised glass jars and twist on the caps while they are still piping hot. If properly made, marmalade can be stored in a cool dry place for about a year, and in the refrigerator for about three years.
- 2kg mandarin oranges, about 15 fruits
- A pinch of salt
- 2 cups hot water
- 750g granulated sugar
- 3 cups cold water
- Juice from 1 lemon, about 5 tbsp
- About 5-6 glass jars, sterilised in boiling water for 30 minutes.
- Scrub the oranges well over running water and peel the rind from the oranges. Save the rind of two oranges and cut into fine julienne.
- Soak the rind with a pinch of salt in hot water for 10 minutes and drain well.
- Separate each segment of the oranges, then remove the seeds with a skewer. Save the seeds, which are full of pectin, into a tea infuser or muslin cloth to be used as a jelling agent.
- Place the orange segments, water, lemon juice, sugar, rind and seeds into a large pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium low and let it simmer for about 90 minutes to 2 hours uncovered, stirring occasionally until the liquid is reduced to half and reaches jell point.
- To test for jell point, chill a small dish in the freezer for about an hour. Place a small dollop of jam on the dish and run a finger across the middle of the puddle. When the jam has reached jell point, the two separated pools should remain parted.
- Ladle the hot jam into sterilised jars, leaving a one-centimetre gap from the top and twist on the caps while the jam is still hot. Allow to cool completely before serving.
- Spread over bread on its own or with chilled butter over toast.