It’s the season for Kinnow oranges here in India. They’re everywhere, in the stores and fruit stalls on the roadside, and quite inexpensive too. I’m the only one here who likes them, but that means more of them for me. I had a couple of kilos of oranges and decided to make some Whole Orange Jam.
This Jam uses the whole orange, minus the central white coloured core and the pips. This means that it takes a lot less prep work. You don’t have to peel the oranges, be careful to avoid the pith under the peel, and cut the peel into thin strips. You just cut the oranges into quarters, then remove the pips and the cut off the central whitish core. Then chop the quarters into halves and blend till chunky. That’s the prep work done! Just use a thin skinned orange so you don’t have a very bitter jam.
Kinnow oranges are juicy and can be sweet if you get good ones. Of course, they have a lot more pips than the average orange but that doesn’t bother me much. I recently made a moist and absolutely delicious Whole Orange Cake. The success of that got me thinking along the lines of a Whole Orange Jam. I love Marmalade but rarely buy any. Most commercially produced Indian jams including marmalade, tend to be too sweet for my taste. So I got thinking of making my own Marmalade with Kinnow oranges.
Why do I call this a Jam, and not Marmalade? After all, Marmalade is made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits cooked with sugar and water. However, I didn’t use just the rind and my preserve doesn’t have the typical appearance of pieces of fruit suspended in the preserve.
It is important to stir your jam constantly, especially once it starts thickening. Orange jam or Marmalade takes longer to cook and can get scorched on the bottom. I don’t use a candy thermometer to make jam. I test the readiness of my jams using the “wrinkle test”. Keep a plate in the freezer before staring the jam. Once the jam seems ready, drop a little on the cold plate. Push it a little from the edge with your finger. If it wrinkles, the jam is done.
Making Marmalade is not very difficult, and the nicest part is you can tailor it to your taste. You can choose if you want your Marmalade chunky or with delicate strips of peel. Just pick a juicy orange with thin peel and thin pith (the white part of the peel), for this jam. The pith is what gives Marmalade its characteristic bitterness. Too much pith can result in a very bitter jam. The trick around this is to boil the whole oranges three times, discarding the water each time before you start making the jam.
I find spicing jams gives them an extra layer of flavour that makes them stand out. Too much of spice can overpower the jams so be a little careful if using them. I always add ginger to my orange jam. A little cinnamon or/ and star anise adds a very nice warmth. Ideally, add the spices whole while cooking the jam. You can take them out later. A note on the amount of sugar in this jam. Do note that if you do reduce the sugar a lot, it will affect the jelling consistency of the jam. You might then have to add some other jelling agent to have a not-so-runny jam.
Whole Orange Jam
- 6 oranges
- 1 1/2 cups sugar or more, adjust to taste
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened orange juice
- 2 tbsp grated ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon or whole cinnamon
- 1 tbsp butter
- Wash the oranges well and pat them dry. Cut the oranges into quarters lengthwise, then remove the pips and the cut off the central whitish core. Then chop the quarters into halves and blend till chunky. Put all the pips in small piece of cotton cloth and tie it into a pouch.
- Keep a plate in the freezer to chill, before staring the jam. Put the blended oranges, sugar, orange juice and ginger in a heavy pot. Mix well, and bring to a boil. Add the whole cinnamon (if using powdered cinnamon add it later) and the pouch of the orange pips to the pot. Turn down the heat to medium and let it simmer until it starts thickening. Keep stirring frequently to ensure the jam doesn’t stick to the pan and burn. When the jam has thickened enough and seems almost ready, stir in the powdered cinnamon if you’re using it instead of whole.
- Once the jam seems ready, take the plate out of the refrigerator. Drop a little jam on the cold plate. Push it a little from the edge with your finger. If it wrinkles, the jam is done.
- Stir in the butter and then take the jam off the heat. Remove the pouch of pips and discard. Let the jam cool a bit. Then transfer it to sterile glass jars while still hot. Cover with airtight lids.