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Cutie Marmalade

Sometimes I wonder how we ever survived the winter, let alone the holiday season, before some very smart person started selling California clementines by the crate. I love that Cuties are (usually) seedless, portable, tasty, and especially that they’re good for you. When my kids come out of school — basically one big Christmas party these days — with sticky fingers and faces from yet another “special treat” (“Mom, we had candy canes and donuts today!”), you can guess what we’re having for snack! Plus the Cuties help keep me out of the toffee, spiced nuts, peppermint bark, cranberry bread, and other recent house invaders.

So when I was deciding what to make this year for holiday hostess gifts, I ditched my original plan of Berry Balsamic Jam (Too summery, right? Most of the berries are pretty pitiful these days.) in favor of something more seasonal like…Cutie Marmalade! Basically this is just orange marmalade using clementines instead of oranges. I added a couple lemons so it wouldn’t be too sweet, and, I must say, it’s delicious — and such a beautiful color, too. I plan to serve this marmalade with scones on Christmas morning, and my husband made an experimental sauce for duck breasts with it last night that was outstanding. It’s delish on toasted cranberry bread too…

The only thing that was even remotely hard about this recipe was peeling all those Cuties (Good thing they’re so easy — and kind of fun — to peel; as we all know, even kids can do it!) and lemons (a little more challenging; use a knife to get them started). Also, there is one tedious step, which I hope won’t turn you off from this recipe: I read somewhere that lemon seeds contain a lot of pectin (the stuff that makes fruit turn to gel), and since I didn’t want to be fishing seeds out of my marmalade, I made a little satchel from an emptied-out teabag for the seeds to simmer in. It only took about 90 seconds. Really.

Clementine Marmalade

24-30 Cuties or other fresh clementines/mandarins
3 lemons
4 cups sugar
8 cups water

First peel the Cuties, reserving the peel from about four of them (wash those four first!). Set the peel aside and cut the Cuties, first in half, then quarter the halves. Put the orange pieces in a large pot (not aluminum as it could react with the citrus; I used the enameled cast iron Dutch oven that I use for just about everything).

Peel two of the lemons. Cut them as you did the clementines and remove all the seeds (I cut them into smaller bits in order to get at all the seeds). Add the lemon pieces to the pot. Dice the reserved clementine peel into small (1/2-inch) pieces and add to pot. Add water and turn on the stove.

While the fruit and water is heating up, empty the tea from an unused teabag and fill it with the lemon seeds. Use the string to tie it tightly and drop it into the pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 25 minutes. Then add the sugar and juice of remaining lemon, and stir.

Continue boiling for about one hour, stirring occasionally. The marmalade should start to thicken, but remember it will gel more when it cools. I used an immersion blender while the fruit was still cooking to make it somewhat smoother, but it’s not completely necessary because the fruit breaks down a lot during an hour-plus of boiling. While it’s still hot, transfer to small (5 oz.) jars. Makes eight jars.

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This post has 23 comments

  • Kent Watson says:

    Wow. This looks a like a great recipe. I will need to try it. In fact, I just noticed my local grocer is running a special on Cuties.

    Last weekend, I cooked up a large batch of grapefruit ginger marmalade. I like to have some jars on hand for people that drop gifts off for the holidays.

    Hope you and your family are planning a wonderful holiday season. We are off to Austin, Texas and I am sure we will find some great food.


  • Therese says:

    I love all your recipies and pictures! Great gift ideas too! Thank you!

  • Cathy says:

    Bev, just as an aside – who takes your photos? They are excellent.

    Miss and love youall. Have a very merry Christmas!

  • Jo Conn says:

    Can’t wait to try it, Bevin. The photos are amazing! Nice job. Happy Holidays.

  • Lindsey says:

    I made this recipe last weekend and I can’t figure out what went wrong. I followed the recipe exactly and it didn’t gel. Was I supposed to add pectin to the recipe? I also have an immersion blender which I used to make it smoother, is it possible to over blend? Thank you for your time and any assistance, I really don’t want to throw it away.

    • Hi Lindsey,
      Thanks for getting in touch, and I’m sorry to hear the marmalade didn’t gel. I don’t add any pectin to mine, but do use some of the cutie seeds and also about one cutie’s worth of the peel, both of which contain pectin. Maybe tear up a whole cutie peel into little bits (washed first) and add it with some seeds (I put them in an empty tea bag, maybe partially crushed) to the mixture and cook it come more (an hour or so). I wouldn’t blend it much, although I don’t think that would be a problem. Also, it gels quite a bit when it cools. I hope this helps. If not, don’t throw it away. Even if it doesn’t gel much, it would still make a delicious syrup or flavoring! Bevin

      • Teri says:

        Mine didn’t gel last night. 🙁 Followed directions. Put lemon seeds in bag and cut up peel from 4 of the cuties. Don’t know what happened?

        • Bevin says:

          Hi Teri,
          Please excuse the delayed reply — spring break…! Anyway, I am sorry your marmalade didn’t gel. I’m not sure what happened, although I was thinking about it and I wonder if it has something to do with the quality of the clementines this time of year? I do notice that they seem to get worse and worse as the winter turns into spring… Just a thought. The other thing is you need to let it cook for a fairly long time (at least an hour). Again, I’m sorry about that; I hate it when people take the time to try my recipes and they don’t work! I hope you enjoyed the concoction anyway, I bet it would be good on ice cream or mixed with sparkling water!

  • Kelly Richardson says:

    Hi Lindsey

    I have been making Marmalade for a while, and I think you just need to cook it on med-high for about an hour or two. Stir it a little, goal is to steam off all that water.

    I followed this recipie but I only used 1 cup of water, and I used a JucieMan to get every bit of Pectin/Juice out of the Clementines. By using less water your cook time lessens.

  • Tibado says:

    I tried this recipe with some cuties and blood orange and the results were runny. I tried to save it with both homemade pectin and store bought pectin, but to no avail. I am thinking 8 cups of water is too much water.

  • trish says:

    You don’t have to water bath can them?? I have a bag I need to work with so this looks like a keeper!

    • I have done this both ways. The first time I made this, I did not water-bath can them, and it was fine. The jars kept easily long enough for us to go through them. The second time I made this, I did give them a water bath. Honestly couldn’t tell the difference in the shelf life, but we eat this stuff pretty quickly!

  • Teri says:

    I’m going to try this tonight. You just put the lemon seeds in the tea bag? Or put the cutie rind in with the lean sees too? And then do you only leave the tea bag in for just the 25 minutes or all the way to the end? I’ve never made marmalade but this one sounds pretty staight forward otherwise. Thanks!

    • Hi Teri,
      Yes, I put the lemon seeds in an empty tea bag and leave them as long as possible (obviously pull it out before you put in jars!). You can just put some of the rind in the pot (not in the tea bag), but make sure it’s cleaned and cut into little pieces because it will end up in your marmalade. Neither of these steps are crucial to making the marmalade, by the way, I had just heard that the seeds help it gel better and I like a little peel in my jam! Good luck!

  • Teri says:

    Thanks! I can’t wait to make with my 11-year old daughter tonight!

  • Minnie says:

    I just made this recipe last night and it turned out to be a great success with a couple of changes I made. I used 28 clementines, 3 cups of sugar (I don’t like sweet things much), 1 lemon (and the seeds) and 3 cups of water. Because the lemon seeds were slippery, I flattened each of them with a pair of pliers. Yes, I did them one by one. I put them in a tea ball and threw that in the pot. There was enough pectin in them to thicken my marmalade. The 3 cups of water felt like it was too much but it turned out to be just fine. All total it took about 3 hours to get it the consistency I liked. I didn’t use an immersion blender but I like my marmalade to have a little bit of structure to it. It looks good and tastes good. Great recipe and definitely a keeper. Thanks!!

  • Tracy says:

    Have you checked into the Ball electric jam maker? Just got one and love it.

    • Hi Tracy,
      I have not tried it but wondered about it. Thanks for the tip! And thanks for reading!

    • Sara Anderson says:

      I have a jam maker that makes my jam/jelly adventures a lot easier, and look forward to trying this recipe in it! I will have to alter it a bit to try a test batch and fit it in the jam maker. Thank you for this recipe, I look forward to trying it.

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