Capture the bright orange of summertime in a jar with this slightly bitter, slightly sweet jam.
By Heather Schmitt-González
Okay. I’m going to admit something. Out loud. Right now. I prefer mandarin oranges from a tin. I don’t say that about many things. As a matter of fact, I can’t really think of anything else I can say that about at the moment. Maybe it’s just that I can never find a juicy mandarin here in Michiana (surprise, surprise). The ones in the tin are so sweet and they never have any of that pesky pith clinging to them. Soooo…when I mistakenly picked up a little net sack of mandarins thinking they were clementines, imagine my dismay. But, the kids didn’t seem to mind, they’ve been peeling them left and right. Now that the sack has dwindled down to just a few, I decided to try a making a jam from them. If nothing else, the bright, cheery, orange in a shiny glass jar will lift everybody’s spirits.
I adapted this from the original recipe in the fact that I only took the colorful zest from the orange and left the pith out. It can be thick and wrangly, bitter and pretty unpleasant if left in the jam. I followed the recommendation of leaving a few whole sections behind to stir in for texture at the end of the cooking time. The lighter color was a pretty contrast and I liked some of the bigger chunks, but since they weren’t really cooked down, it turned the final product a tiny bit watery. But really, it was still pretty thick and spreadable, so I think it’s okay to keep this step in or just forget it (personal preferance).
Try spread on thick, hearty toast with butter or use to make a coating for some roasted pork along with mustard and some rosemary or sage and some breadcrumbs.
Either way, I was right. The color alone brought a smile to our faces.
- 4 Mandarin oranges
- 1⅓ c. sugar
- 1 c. water
- Wash each mandarin orange in warm water. Remove the just the zest (leave the bitter white pith behind) from 2 of the oranges using either a zest that makes long, thin strips or a vegetable peeler (then slice or dice the zest).
- Place zest in a heavy-bottomed pot with sugar and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to cook for 20 minutes or until liquid is beginning to look a bit syrupy and peel is well-glazed.
- Meanwhile, peel the oranges and separate the segments. If yours is particularly juicy and falling apart, set in a colander over a bowl to catch any juices.
- After the 20 minutes is up, add all but a small handful of the orange segments to the pot and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer again and allow to cook for 30-40 minutes, or until thick and "jammy"; stir often to keep from sticking.
- Test on a plate if you wish by dropping a small spoonful of the jam onto it and seeing if it sits in a blob without running. Toss in the reserved orange segments during the last five minutes of cooking time.
- Transfer to sterilized jars and process for canning (will keep 10-12 months this way) or keep in the fridge.