I’m not a fan of buying stuff for the sake of stuff. Gifts, no matter how small, need to have meaning. So when I got word that we were doing an exchange at a party we’re going to ($5 or less), I knew I was going to make something.
I enjoy making jam, and I’ve made many over the years. I love that it can be made in large or small quantities (like this small batch blueberry jam, which can even be made in winter with frozen berries).
Marmalade, while quite different from jam in that it doesn’t require pectin, is another preserve that can be done in small quantities. I daresay that it’s even easier to do in a smaller quantity, since it can be made from a simple ratio.
Basic marmalade requires peel, pulp and seeds, weighed. Equal measures of liquid and sugar are added. The rest is just method.
For this preserve, I chose to use flavours of the season, calling it Christmas marmalade. I started with clementines and lemons (for balance, lest the result be too sweet), and I finished up with some cranberries. The result was tangy and sweet, with just the right amount of bitterness. That said, the natural pectin in the cranberries makes for a very firm result, so if you’re looking for a looser set, maybe try adding a bit more water. I like the way it turned out. Three clementines, two lemons and a cup of cranberries gave me just enough for 3 pint jars, which was perfect for my purposes. Scale the recipe up as you please.
If you’re feeling adventurous, mix a bit of this with Sriracha and cream cheese and stuff the mixture into wonton skins and fry them up for a fun holiday appetizer.
Cranberry Clementine (aka Christmas) Marmalade
3 good size clementines (or 6 of those tiny ones)
1 cup cranberries (frozen is fine)
1 tablespoon grated ginger (optional)
Scrub the oranges and lemons well. With a sharp knife, remove the peel. It’s okay to get some of the white pith, since that’s what gives the marmalade it’s pleasing bitterness. Set the peel aside and juice what remains. Set the juice aside as well as the seeds and pulp.
Either by hand or in a food processor, chop your peel finely. You could cut it into very fine strips if you prefer your marmalade stringy. It’s up to you. I used my food processor.
Take the pulp and seeds and tie them all up in a double layer of cheesecloth. Tare a scale with a bowl on it. Weigh your peel with the cheesecloth bundle, make note of the number and add both to a large, heavy bottomed pot. Return the bowl to the scale and weigh out an equal amount of the reserved juice, adding water if needed. Pour over the peel.
Bring the pot to a boil and simmer the peel and pulp bag for about an hour, covered, until the zest is tender. In the meantime, weigh out your sugar and set it aside (remember, it needs to weigh what the peel and pulp weighed).
After an hour, remove the cheesecloth, scraping it and squeezing out as much liquid as you can. Stir in the cranberries, ginger (if using) and the sugar, and bring the temperature up to about medium high. Boil everything, stirring occasionally and skimming off any foam, until a candy thermometer reaches 220F.
Ladle the marmalade into the jars and proceed as you do for canning jam, using a water bath to finish them off. (I will say that because of the high sugar and acid content, I simply turned mine upside down to seal, and they did. This is not the recommended practice, so do as I say, not as I do.)
Makes 3 pint jars, perfect for gifts, or Christmas breakfast.