Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Simple Tangerine-Turmeric Marmalade Chutney

I have been pursuing the fruit pinups in The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook. Drool. But it's really just unattainable aspiration, what with the complicated recipes, the mainland stone fruit ingredients, and the author's more-Anthropologie-than-Anthropologie outfits. However, I did find Rachel Saunders's descriptions of different types of marmalades quite useful, since this time of year our six tangerine trees are loaded. Luckily, I decided to ignore the Saunders's indignant dismissal of citrus that does not stick to its skin. (Our tangerines are definitely loose-skinned.)

Inspired by Blue Chair, I turned to the internet to find a simple marmalade recipe. I found exactly what I was looking for through my friends the Evil Mad Scientists. I adapted their recipe to fit my own needs and vision.

I call this a marmalade chutney because I boiled the water out until the mixture was very thick, leaving very little "jell." It's mostly flavored fruit rinds and fibers. Because I like my desert-foods as healthy as possible, I used very low sugar, and I used palm sugar instead of cane sugar. Palm sugar is lower glycemic than cane sugar, but it also imparts a brown sugar taste and a dark color. In this recipe, it works well with the other flavors.

The recipe below makes a very bitter marmalade. When I first tasted it, I thought it was too bitter, but later I found that I love its complex, adult taste with sourdough rye bread, or bread with almond butter, or crackers and cheese, or really any way I can find to scoop it up. If you'd like a less bitter marmalade, try soaking the peals overnight in water (and discard the water).

I used turmeric root with the tangerines because it is so healthy, because I currently have a lot laying around, and because I love the yellow color. I also found that it deepens the flavor. I think other spices would be amazing as well, I put cinnamon in this last batch and will try cardamon next.

The recipe:

10 tangerines, about 3.3 pounds
2 cups water
2 oz fresh tumeric root
1 cup palm sugar
other spices?

Your marmalade can only be as flavorful as the fruit you use, so try to select ripe, juicy specimens of yum.

Cut up the entire fruit, including the skin. I trimmed some of the most fibrous bits and took out the seeds, but everything else is good. Cut up the skins in any size/shape that appeals to you. The slices break down during cooking. 

Here are the leftover bits from 10 tangerines - not much waste when making a marmalade.

Grate turmeric, and prepare any other spices, and add to tangerines.

Add about 2 cups of water to the tangerine pieces and boil for about an hour to soften them.

Add sugar. I used 1 cup, which is probably about the minimum amount for a condiment for sweet snacks. Add more if you'd like a more traditional (sweet) product. Simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours. Make sure to stir frequently, because it does like to burn. (The distraction of my neighbor's cows in my garden made me lose a batch. Drat!) A little bit of burn probably won't affect it too much, though, so make sure you taste it before throwing a batch away.

During this cooking time, pectin is oozing out of the peels and fiber. It's the pectin that will cause the marmalade to jell when cool. To see if it is ready, you can put a small dollop on a cooled plate and see if it forms a jell or skin or if it stays watery.

Pour into a jar to enjoy now, or can in canning jars. Opened jars should be refrigerated. Makes about 5 cups.

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