Looking for a not-so bitter marmelade

tracydr(9b)October 28, 2010

My husband thinks marmalade is either Smuckers or British. He's never has anything else. To be honest, I've not had many others either, although I really liked what I had in Africa and find Smuckers disgustingly sweet.

We both like bitter and sour flavors but more sour, not too bitter. Living in , Mesa. AZ, I have access from now until May to almost all citrus fruits known except blood oranges or kumquats. Also, a fair amount of other fruits are easy to get.

My quest is to find a more sour, less bitter marmalade that my husband will love.

I have home grown Valencia and sour (Seville) oranges ready in January. Limes are really nice in the stores now, as are juicing oranges.

Cranberries on sale soon. I'm open to any and all ideas. I saw a recipe in small batch using baking soda. Also, the carrot recipe looks very interesting.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Incorporating the peel is optional in many marm recipes and it has always been my understanding that it is peel that gives it the more traditional bitterness. Why not just try making it without the peeling - any peeling - as many different recipes suggest?


    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 8:30PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

The main issue is to make sure no white whatsoever from the underside of the peel (the pericarp) is included in your marmalade. That's the principal source of the bitterness.

Other ways of reducing the bitterness would be to supreme the fruit (carve out the segments from the membrane) rather than slicing and to cut the citrus peel itself into small shreds, not large chunks. The shreds tend to "melt" into the marmalade and you avoid the sensation of the bitterness on the tongue.

If you prefer larger chunks of peel, I would peel the citrus, cut into batons and par-boil (pre-cook) with a bit of soda. This reduces bitterness for an American-style marmalade. I don't use soda, but at least this way it stays out of the preserve.

Remove the pre-cooked peel, dry, and cut/scrape off the white pericarp. Discard the water.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 8:47PM
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I'll try this. I have a bag of valencies and really juicy limes in the fridge. I'm just wondering if there are some other magic mixtures that give the right touch? Maybe cranberries?
Or, some other fruit, apples, apricots, strawberries.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 9:30PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

You can use any sort of fruit you wish. Raspberry marmalade is popular.

Generally, adding shreds of peel to any preserve improves its set, so using citrus with a low-pectin fruit can be effective.

Obviously, darker fruits that "bleed" like berries or cranberries will change the color of the marmalade and the presence of citrus will be much less obvious.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 10:08PM
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I have made apple marmalade when I had an excess of apples and it is quite mild. As Carol said though, it depends on the removal of the white from the peel, although some oranges seem more bitter than others.
I don't remember where I found this recipe, but here it is just as I copied it:
1-2 oranges
6 medium apples [use cooking apples or fresh apples with a tart-sweet flavor]
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 cups liquid [water, or apple juice, or orange juice]
5 cups sugar

Chop up oranges [removing any pits]. Peel and core apples and chop or slice them. Combine oranges, apples, lemon juice, and liquid.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until apples are tender [about 10 minutes]. Add sugar and bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Continue cooking until mixture becomes thickened and clear and jam stage is reached [jam slides off a cold spoon in sheets]. Remove from heat, skim off foam, ladle jam into hot sterile jars and seal.

This is one of the easiest and quickest jam recipes. I don't like bitter marmalade and this one has a nice delicate flavour. You can cut the oranges into large chunks or fine pieces to suit your preference. There's no need to add pectin, as apples are high in pectin so this jam will set very easily."
I did BWB for 10 minutes. This was wonderful in Linda Lou's cereal bars!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 11:26PM
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This sounds like a very nice introduction to marmalade for my husband.
Basically, looking for recipes not too sweet or too bitter. I guess that leaves out traditional American or British marmalades? I'm thinking the ones I had in Africa were traditional British but I'm not sure. When my husband spent time in UK he may not have even tasted him, thinking only of his Smuckers experiences.
So, I will try this apple recipe and then, perhaps trend towards something more traditionally British when my sour oranges and lemons start to ripen.
I was wondering for the longest time what those lumpy, sour tasting oranges were, BTW. They were Sevilles. Rootstock that overtook one of our Meyers lemon trees!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 11:46PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Although British marmalades will tend to lower-sugar and more bitterness than American, I don't think it's a matter of country so much as method and variety of citrus. There are a gazillion marmalade recipes out there and I wouldn't generalize as to which recipe, regardless of source, will best suit your taste.

I also wouldn't consider Smuckers "typical" except that as a mass-produced product naturally more people have consumed it.

You have to look for recipes which in their ingredients and method seem most in accord with your tastes. For example, Meyer lemons are milder and sweeter, so a marmalade made with those will reflect the character of the fruit. Seville oranges, which are the standard British marmalade citrus ingredient, tend to the bitter. It's entirely possible that the African marmalade used a British recipe but a different variety of orange.


    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 1:35AM
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That's a very good point,Carol. While any experience my husband had was most likely commercially made with Seville oranges, my African experience was probably a mixture of whatever citrus fruits the chefs could get their hands on. I stayed at very small, very remote places and for one week of the trip I was on a boat off the coast of Pemba Island which is about a 3 hour flight from almost nowhere.
So yes, I need to just get in the kitchen and play. Good thing I'm not at all afraid to do that. If it turns to syrup, is too bitter or too sour I can always find some recipe to use it in.
Now for the fun part. Discovering which combinations of fruits we like together.
Something about that pretty green lime marmelade, the carrot lemon marmelade keep calling to me. And, of course, I'll do some orange, grapefruit and sour/ bitter orange.
I need to plant a pigmented orange tree. Those blood oranges are so darn pretty and I can never find them here.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 11:07AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

June Taylor has a recipe for a three-fruit marmalade (Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, IIRC).


    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 2:17PM
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Will give that a try. Hubby confirmed, he has never tasted marmelade except for Smeckers. I think the lack of real fruit taste and overwhelming sweetness is the problem. He likes my no pectin recipes the best, even my cider syrup that didn't set.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 11:56PM
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mellyofthesouth(9a FL)

It is to bad you don't have access to kumquats because I really like that one the best. It has a nice tart orange flavor without being bitter. (These were the oval kumquats that have a sweet peel and tart flesh.) Calamondin marmalade would be my second favorite. I really didn't like the pink grapefruit and meyer lemon from June Taylor's recipe. I made an very small experimental batch of lime. I couldn't take it at all but added it to a big batch of kumquat with some habaneros and called it good. The ball recipe with the carrots and cinnamon stick is good.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 11:24PM
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I might buy a little kumquat tree. I've never even tasted them but I think they do okay here. Or just check out the Asian market during their season.
I would like anything with habaneros, too!
What is calamondin?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 11:51PM
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Just looked up calamondin. I think they might not tolerate our severe heat. Same with kumquats. I m going to try a heat tolerant variety of blood orange, though.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 11:58PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I agree with Melly on the grapefruit in particular. It's a different kind of bitterness I don't care for (though perhaps another variety of grapefruit would be another story). However, for us it's now a moot issue as grapefruit is off the menu anyway. It conflicts with DH's cholesterol-lowering medication.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 1:51AM
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mellyofthesouth(9a FL)

My friend's calamondin is really big (in the ground) but I have quite a bit of fruit on my little one in a pot. Probably only enough to make one jar but it pretty much fruits year round. Good luck with your marmalade adventures.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 10:21AM
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I will probably try grapefruit simply because when March rolls around many of our neighbors give it away. It's much better off the tree, fully ripened, than from the store.
I wonder if the grapefruit marmelade wasn't so good because the membranes were used? I can't stand the taste of grapefruit membranes. I have to use a grapefruit spoon to cut the meat away from the membrane. Just can't eat it any other way.
Kumquats somwtimws do OK here. I may try one in the shade under our front porch. That would be so pretty.
Kumquats and calamondins are cold hardy but not so heat tolerant. Same with most blood oranges. I'm going to try to find one of the heat tolerant blood orange trees this winter as the preserves are so darn pretty. I've never even tasted one!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 10:43AM
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