It looks pretty, but in reality it's a pretty big mess. This shot is not the greatest either.
I tried to get my Martha Stewart on last weekend and make marmalade. It didn’t go very well.
I found out that marmalade is a sticky, hot mess. Seeds will fly. Juice will spill and splatter and you’ll need to mop afterwards because your floor will be as sticky as a glue trap. Scraping the pith (the white stuff) off of a peel is the biggest pain in the rear I’ve ever encountered.
So what in the world possessed me to make marmalade? My uncle delivers food to restaurants for a living. He delivered a load of tangerines to a restaurant the week of Christmas, but they refused them saying they were too ripe. So, my uncle ended up with several boxes of them to make a long story short. When we gathered at my grandmother’s on Christmas Day, no one was leaving that house without taking a few bags of tangerines. I ended up with three bags and had no idea what to do with them since I’m not much of a tangerine person. My mom suggested marmalade, so that’s what I decided to do.
I did some Googling and decided to modify the orange marmalade recipe in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. It took 17 tangerines and one lemon to get the portions I needed. That wasn’t the hard part. The hardest part was peeling those blasted tangerines and then scraping the pith off with a butter knife so the marmalade wouldn’t be bitter. And don’t even get me started on finding all of the seeds in the fruit. I had no idea tangerines had so many freaking seeds.
The lemon, tangerine plup and rind before cooking.
I left it sit overnight as instructed by the recipe, but the marmalade would not set up when I cooked it no matter how much praying I did. I canned three pints of it and stuck the remaining two pints in the ‘fridge. It’s possible that this marmalade will set up after two weeks like some jams do, but I’m not holding my breath. It has a nice flavor, but it’s more tangerine goop than marmalade. I baked the remaining goop into muffins Monday morning. That actually turned out pretty well.
I suspect that the fruit was too ripe to have a lot of pectin remaining in the peel and that’s what went wrong with the gelling process. Or, maybe it was because I used an orange marmalade recipe when I should have used a tangerine recipe. Perhaps all citrus is not created equal?
If I do this again, and I think you might have to put a gun to my head to get me to tackle this a second time, here’s what I’m going to do:
- Save myself a migraine and buy seedless tangerines. But hey, these were free, and beggars can’t be choosers.
- Use this recipe for tangerine marmalade that I found online. There’s no need to scrap the pith in this version. This would be much easier to work with! Just throw in in a food processor and done.
- Wear gloves. Lemon juice in paper cuts are not a fun time.
- Read this tutorial first on how to properly cut the citrus for the pulp. It took me forever to get into a groove to cut these things.
If you want to get ambitious and make this, I would suggest that if you don’t have a food processor, borrow one or buy one before you make this. Chopping up citrus peel by hand requires the patience of a saint. I also suggest that you buy both ripe fruit and green. That will (hopefully) provide you with enough pectin for your marmalade to gel. Buy back up pectin just in case.
Anyone else ever tried marmalade? How did it work for you?