If you’ve got a pile of tangy, tart and delicious calamondin oranges at your disposal, put them to good use by making calamondin marmalade with baby ginger.
One of the reasons we love eating seasonally is because each season of the year brings new and different foods to look forward to – and to experiment with.
Many years ago before The Tyrant and I had our own garden, we didn’t much enjoy the cold months. Now, we even look forward to fall and winter because we know there are delicious, cold weather foods waiting for us.
Growing organic citrus in cool climate zones
We live in Ag Zone 7B on the outskirts of Greenville, SC. However, being explorative gardening nuts, we’ve decided that our geographical location shouldn’t stop us from growing things like avocados, bananas, and citrus.
Our citrus collection started innocently enough with one Meyer lemon, which we jokingly refer to as our “gateway citrus.” We now have about a dozen citrus trees growing in containers.
Mid to late November (right now) marks the beginning of citrus season for us.
Our trees are currently loaded with ripe Meyer lemons, pink lemonade lemons, makrut limes, finger limes, Buddhas hands, and calamondin oranges. Blood oranges and kumquats are only weeks away.
Of all the citrus varieties we grow, the only one that produces fruit virtually year round is our calamondin. However, each year it ripens the largest amount of fruit in the fall.
Calamondin oranges (Citrus microcarpa), or simply “calamondins,” are technically an intergeneric hybrid between a kumquat and (probably) a mandarin orange. Calamondins are hugely popular throughout southeast Asia.
Although they’re quite a bit more tart/sour than kumquats, we enjoy eating whole calamondins raw, skin and all. We also make them into mixed drinks, Asian-style sauces, and salad dressings. (You can buy your own calamondin tree from Hirts Nursery here.)
The intense sour-sweet juicy flavor of a calamondin gives you an indication of how much nutrition they pack. According to Texas A & M Department of Horticulture, a single calamondin orange provides a whopping:
- 37 mg potassium
- 7.3 mg vitamin C
- 57.4 mg IU vitamin A
- 8.4 mg calcium
Calamondin: Our most prolific citrus tree
Our potted, five year old calamondin tree produces an incredible amount of fruit relative to its size. Each branch is loaded with so much fruit, it almost looks like the tree is decorated with ornaments, not real fruit.
Having lots of fruit allows for experimentation!
This year, we’ve been yearning for some marmalade to go on our morning serving of Tyrant Farms 5 minute whole grain artisanal bread, so we decided to put some of our calamondins to use.
Since we just got through pulling a bunch of baby ginger roots from our garden, we decided to combine the two ingredients to make calamondin marmalade with baby ginger.
The result? The most intensely flavorful marmalade we’ve ever had. If you love the sweet, bitter, sour flavor of good marmalade, you’ll LOVE this recipe.
Cooking Tips: Making calamondin marmalade with baby ginger
Before diving in and making the calamondin marmalade recipe below, please have a quick look through this cooking tips section!
1. Best way to slice and de-seed calamondins?
There are two general ways to slice and de-seed your calamondins:
- Option 1 – Slice each fruit into 3-4 even-sized pieces and then de-seed them as you go. Even though the picture below shows this process on a cutting board, it’s best to do it over a large bowl or plate to trap all the juice that comes out of the fruit as you slice. This is the method I used and it took me about 1.5 hours to slice and de-seed 10 pounds of calamondins.
- Option 2 – Slice each calamondin fruit in half, squeeze the juice and seeds into a bowl then strain out the seeds. Once that’s done, you’ll need to slice the skins into strips on a cutting board. Some people prefer this method, but it seemed slower to me. Maybe time yourself doing both and see which method you prefer!
Either way, you want some degree of uniformity in your sliced pieces. We like a chunky marmalade, which is another reason I chose option 1.
2. Butter or no butter?
If you’ve never made preserves or jam before, you might notice that the calamondin mixture will start to produce a foam on top while cooking. This is perfectly normal.
You can either: a) skim it off with a strainer, b) leave it and have a foam layer on top of your jars of marmalade, or c) add a little butter. We added a couple tablespoons of butter to our batch and you can see the results below.
3. Quantity and cooking time?
We like a thicker, more intense marmalade so we cooked ours for about 1.5 hours. This allowed for a lot of water evaporation and more intense flavor.
Obviously, the longer you cook your marmalade, the less quantity you’ll have to can at the end of the process. When we make preserves, we usually end up with a jar that’s not quite full enough to can. Rather than putting it in the water bath and risking contamination, we just let it cool, then put it in the fridge for immediate use.
4. How much ginger (and “baby” ginger)?
As mentioned above, baby ginger is the younger, less fibrous, less intensely-flavored ginger that’s harvested earlier than mature ginger you get in the grocery store.
If you don’t have baby ginger, it’s ok to use mature ginger for this recipe.
We used 6 tablespoons of ginger per 10 pounds of calamondins. Since the calamondins are so intensely flavored, the ginger flavor didn’t come through much in our batch.
If you want to bump up the ginger pop in your calamondin marmalade, you could probably even double the amount of ginger we used and be ok. Taste as you go, so you don’t overdo it! You can always add more and cook for a bit longer.
How much sugar?
Most marmalade recipes call for a little less than 1 part sugar per 1 part orange. They also add lemons to get some extra tart flavor.
This recipe uses 100% calamondins – no lemons. That’s because calamondins are not as sweet as regular oranges, and pack more tart/sour as well. Nevertheless, we bumped down the sugar content in this recipe, added a little honey, and cooked it all down for a thicker consistency.
If you use the sugar-to-calamondin ratio in our recipe, be sure to taste your marmalade as you go to make sure it’s sweet enough for your liking. Add more sugar or honey if desired.
Recipe: Calamondin marmalade with baby ginger
This recipe produced 200 ounces of calamondin marmalade, which equates to 25 half pint jars or 12.5 pint jars. Cooking longer = less marmalade but a thicker final consistency; adding more sugar = more marmalade.
Calamondin marmalade with baby ginger
An intensely flavorful marmalade made with fresh calamondin oranges and baby ginger (young tender ginger root). If you like the sweet, sour, bitter flavor of good marmalade, you'll LOVE this unique marmalade recipe!
- 10 lbs calamondin oranges
- 5 lbs organic cane sugar
- 2 cups honey
- 2 tablespoons grass butter
- 6 tablespoons minced baby ginger
Slice and de-seed calamondin oranges over bowl or plate in order to catch juice.
Dice baby ginger.
Add all ingredients to large pot. Bring to low boil and cook for 1+ hours or until marmalade has reached desired consistency. (Put a spoon in the freezer, take out, and pour a small amount of marmalade on cold spoon to test - marmalade should thicken quickly when ready.) Add more sugar or diced ginger to achieve desired flavor, but boil for at least another 15 minutes any time you add new ingredients to prevent potential contamination in cans.
Pour marmalade into sanitized jars, then use water bath or pressure canner to safely preserve marmalade.
Need canning supplies?
One final tip: the best way to enjoy marmalade is on homemade 100% whole grain organic bread.
Don’t think you have time to make your own bread? Think again! Use our 5 minute artisanal bread recipe to make the bread we used in photographs for this article.