I’ve been on a compote-and-jam-making kick lately. Maybe it’s because we’ve arrive at that glorious time of year in Southern California when late-Winter citrus and early-Spring berries are both in season. That means I can make strawberry compote and pixie tangerine marmalade in the same week. And that is a good week.
When I make compote, I typically follow Ruth Reichl’s method of starting with a sugar syrup and then cooking down the fruit in two stages. (Check out my Facebook page for a step-by-step video tutorial.) I find this method works with nearly every kind of stone fruit or berries. But when it comes to citrus marmalade, you need to approach it a bit differently.
To know me is to know I love citrus. All kinds. All the time. In every dish. I can not get enough. So it should come as no surprise that my favorite jam/compote/spread is orange marmalade. It is the perfect blend of bitter and sweet. It is best, I think, slathered on a thick, buttery slab of whole grain toast, but I also love a big dollop of it on bowl of thick Greek yogurt.
Making marmalade is easy but requires a bit more time than making compote. It also requires a candy thermometer, which may scare you away from making it. But I hope it doesn’t because I promise it really is simple. The thermometer is just there to make sure the sugar cooks to the right temperature which ensures you get the perfect texture. And sadly, when sugar is bubbling away at around 200-degrees you can’t exactly dip a spoon in to get a taste and see how things are shaping up. So get a candy thermometer if you don’t have one already and make this marmalade. You won’t be sorry.
If you happen to be up in Ojai during the next couple of months, come visit me at Tipple and Ramble where we are serving this pixie tangerine marmalade. The pixie tangerine is a special treat grown only in Ojai and is sweeter and more fragrant that the other seedless tangerines you will find in the store. It’s worth a tip to Ojai in the springtime just to drive through the orchards and breath in the orange blossoms. Intoxicating and magical.
- 2 pounds citrus
- 5 cups water
- 1 vanilla bean OR 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- 3 1/2 cups sugar
- Cut the citrus into wedges and then crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Discard any seeds you find as you go.
- Place fruit in large bowl and cover with 5 cups water.
- Let sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to overnight.
- Pour the fruit and all the water into a heavy-bottomed pot (I like to use an enameled cast iron for this).
- Add the vanilla bean or paste.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about an hour until the rinds are starting to separate from the fruit.
- Remove from heat. Stir in sugar until dissolved.
- Place the candy thermometer in the pan and clip to the side.
- Return to heat and bring back to a boil.
- Cook for about 45 minutes - 1 hour until mixture is 210-degrees.
- Marmalade will look slightly thickened but not as thick as you want it. Don't worry -- it will thicken as it cools.
- Remove from heat and let cool completely in the pot before spooning into jars for storage.
- Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 months.