a journal of tea-inspired foods and recipes
Mandarins are little bursts of sunshine that appear during the chilly winter months and keep on shining through spring, just before the fruits of summer start to appear. I wanted to share the mouthwatering recipe before the peak season for mandarins comes to an end.
I adapted the recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks about canning called Preserve It! by Lynda Brown. The book has beginner-level preserving recipes and tips that make the whole concept of canning approachable for an impatient newbie like myself.
But for a holiday twist I infused the marmalade with Savory Spice Shop’s mulling spices, a combination of cinnamon, allspice, cloves, mace, and cardamom seeds. The mulling spices add just a hint of spice to complement the sweetness and brightness of the orange flavor. And if you don’t have whiskey on hand you can make do with brandy or dark rum. This is absolutely my new favorite way to make marmalade and it will be likely be an annual winter preserving project at my house.Happy cooking and sipping!
(Adapted from the Clementine Whiskey Marmalade recipe in Preserve It! by Lynda Brown.)
Makes about 6 half-pint jars. Recipe easily doubles.
2 pounds mandarins (any variety), scrubbed and quartered
2 tablespoons mulling spices (I used Savory Spice Shop’s blend)
Cheesecloth (or muslin bag) and twine
2 large lemons, juiced
4½ cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons whiskey, brandy, or dark rum
1. Make sure any seeds are removed from the mandarins and pulse them in a food processor until just shredded but not mushy. (If you want to end up with a fancier looking marmalade, you can squeeze out the juice and pulp from the mandarins then slice the skins into strips. I prefer the easier food processor method.)
2. Place the chopped mandarins in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Meanwhile, wrap the mulling spices in cheesecloth (or place in a muslin bag) and secure with kitchen twine to make a small bundle. Drop the spice bundle into the fruit mixture. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until the mandarin rind is soft.
3. Remove the bag of mulling spices and stir in the lemon juice and sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and cook at a boil for 30 minutes or longer until the setting point is reached.
4. Setting point tips: I’ve made this recipe several times and the time to reach setting point varied every time. I’m not sure if it’s the variety of mandarin or the weather or the altitude in Colorado or what, but I’ve had it take up to an hour to an hour and a half for this to set. Visually what you’re looking for is for the entire mixture to go from a fast boil with lots of frothing to a slow, sluggish plopping of the bubbles with no froth. This is when you know the mixture is thickening. The “flake test” tip from the Preserve It! book suggests transferring a spoonful of marmalade to a bowl and letting it cool a minute. Then scoop it up with a wooden spoon. If the marmalade falls off the spoon in flake rather than a stream, then it is set.
5. Once setting point is reached, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the liquor you decided to use. Ladle the marmalade into sterilized canning jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace (the unfilled space between the marmalade and the jar’s lid) and gently seal with a two-part canning lid with band. Lower the jars carefully into a pot of boiling water with tongs. Make sure the jars don’t touch and that the water covers the jars. Leave the jars in the boiling water for 5 minutes, then remove and let cool. You should hear a popping sound as each jar seals. Let cool for 24 hours. Make sure each jar sealed by pressing your finger on the top of the lid; you shouldn’t feel any movement. Refrigerate any jars that did not seal properly. Label the rest and store them in the cupboard…or give them away as gifts! The preserved marmalade should be enjoyed within 9 months.