Made my very first batch of marmalade from calamondins today. For years I’ve been making marmalade using honey bell tangelos or sometimes Hamlins, but my favorite orange for marmalade has always been Valencias. However I think I may have found a new marmalade citrus — the little calamondin. Until now we only used the cute little oranges for what we called “garnish fruit.” The clusters of bright orange mini-oranges were great for adding just the right touch of color to all sorts of meal presentations.
But lately I kept hearing about how “great” calamondin marmalade was, so I just had to try it for myself. To my surprise it was actually easier to make than the kind using full-size oranges, even though those tiny fruits are about five to 10 percent seed. Yes, the seeding of the calamondins is a bit tedious, because there are so many and such little seeds. But all-in-all the preparation was a lot less work. Anyone who has ever made marmalade knows how labor-intensive it is, even when using a box of that powdered fruit pectin.
I searched the Internet for a recipe, expecting to find one using powdered pectin, but of all those I found, none called for it. So it was with a bit of reserve that I went out and gathered the little fruits to make a batch. I found that if I cut the fruits in half and removed the seeds, and then sliced each half thinly that the prep work went quite quickly. The fruit has to be mixed with a bit of water, cooked and then refrigerated overnight. The following day the sugar is added and the marmalade is cooked. And you know what? Everyone was right! It is the best marmalade ever. I may never go back to the big oranges again.
Calamondin marmalade is different from marmalade made of oranges, a bit muskier in flavor. But that’s what makes it so distinctive. If you are lucky enough to have a ready supply of calamondins (some people even grow this type citrus in the far north because the trees are smaller than other citrus trees) give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.
4 cups thinly sliced, seeded calamondins (about one and a half quarts whole fruit)
3 cups water (or 3/4 cups water for each cup of sliced fruit)
4 cups sugar (or one cup sugar for each cup of cooked fruit)
Seed and thinly slice the calamondins. Measure fruit and mix with 3/4 cup of water for each cup of sliced calamondins in large kettle. Bring to a boil and boil 15 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cool and refrigerate overnight. The next day, measure cooked fruit, adding a cup of sugar for each cup of cooked fruit.
Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently, and continue boiling vigorously until the mixture reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove kettle from heat. Ladle marmalade into clean, sterilized, hot jars and seal. Store in refrigerator. Makes about six jars.